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Getting Gritty: 11 Authors like David Baldacci

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Brandie DeRusha

Staff Writer

With her MA in English from Rutgers University-Camden, Brandie spends her days chasing around her toddlers and writing. She loves to pair wine with her reading; preferably a Brontë, or an Elliot, or a Woolf novel. Depending on the mood. She currently lives in Florida with her husband, two kids and furry beast.

So you like thrillers with down-on-their-luck whisky drinking private investigators. You love digging into the dark underbellies of gleaming cities. Where, sometimes, the obvious answer is not always the truth. Now you’ve realized that you’ve read the entire library of David Baldacci during the pandemic, and start to panic. Thankfully, you are one smart cookie and head over to Book Riot to find authors who write like your favorite thriller guy. Which leads you here. Good sleuthing. Here is our list of authors like David Baldacci who write in the same style to get you through. Thriller. Private Investigator. Mystery. Maybe some FBI and spies thrown in.

(And if you like this list of authors like David Baldacci, you should also check out The (Legal) Thrill is On: Authors like John Grisham.)

1.) Alex Segura

Alex Segura is a novelist and AND a comic book writer. His best-selling Pete Fernandez Miami Mysteries is what gives him a spot on this list. We first meet Pete in Silent CityPete is everything we could wish for in a PI. Down on his luck. Going home after a series of failures. When a colleague asks him to help him find a missing girl, not only does he have to face up to murder, but also the underbelly of Miami, drugs, and even possibly a family connection to it all. The series follows Pete Fernandez in Down the Darkest StreetDangerous Ends, Blackout, and Miami Midnight

2.) Rachel Howzell Hall

If you’re looking for a kickass female protagonist, look no further than Rachel Howzell Hall’s homicide detective Elouise (Lou) Norton. We first find her in Land of Shadows, where we have to take a hard look at the gentrification of Los Angeles. Seventeen-year-old Monique Darson is found dead at a condo construction site that just happens to be owned by the millionaire who may have killed Lou’s sister 30 years ago. Is this a case of suicide, or something else? Lou has to trust her instincts if she is going to, not only give justice to a grieving family, but to also save her own life. You can also read City of Saviors and Skies of Ash.

3.) Keigo Higashino

Keigo Higashino is an award-winning Japanese author whose work has finally been translated so that we mortals can partake in his brilliance. Enter The Devotion of Suspect X, the first of his Detective Galileo series. Dr. Manabu Yukawa is a physicist who helps his friend detective Kusanagi with difficult cases, earning him the title “Detective Galileo.” This case should be easy—a woman kills her ex-husband in self defense—but she has help: a man who makes the case cloudy. The reader is brought into a battle of minds and ethics. Where does devotion end and obsession begin?

4.) Lee Child

Famous for his novels about an ex-military drifter Jack Reacher, Lee Child has been fulfilling that hard action, complicated hero niche since 1998 with his first Reacher novel The Killing FloorFor readers who want the action and easy mysteries with depth of product, this is a good author to turn to. With 25 Jack Reacher books you’ll have enough to last to the next Baldacci.

5.) Tracy Clark

Tracy Clark works as an editor in Chicago. She is the author of the Cass Raines series. If you’re looking for a badass female lead, look no further than Broken Places. Private investigator, and former cop, Cass Raines, is trying to live a quiet life after getting shot on the job left her reeling. When one of her close friends, someone she sees as a father, is murdered in an apparent break in, she is pulled back into the world of law and justice to make sure that justice is served for someone who wasn’t afraid to speak truth to power. You can follow Cass in the next two books in the series, Borrowed Time and What You Don’t See.

6.) Tom Clancy

Chances are, somewhere in you life, you’ve heard the name Jack Ryan. Tom Clancy is the creator of that name. Whether you’ve associated that name with Harrison Ford in Patriot Games, Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red Octoberor even as recently as John Krasinski in the recent Amazon TV series, the fact is the “Ryanverse” is larger than many know. So take a dive and see what the fuss is about.

7.) Steph Cha

What I love about Steph Cha’s protagonists isn’t that they’re gritty, but young. How do strong people become strong? They have to get through some tough stuff. This is what happens to Juniper Song, an aspiring PI, lover of L.A. Noir. She is a character that makes so many rookie mistakes, because that’s just what she is. There’s no hiding that fact. If you love that idea, I encourage you to pick up Follow Her Home, Dead Soon Enoughand Your House Will Pay

8.) Michael Connelly

With dozens of books within the same universe, Michael Connelly is sure to help you out of your book drought. He is the creator of the Harry Bosch series. Bosch, a veteran of the Vietnam War—sort of crusty, with a side of PTSD—is an LAPD homicide detective. In the first novel, The Black EchoBosch’s case turns personal when the victim turns out to be a fellow squad mate. Bosh has to relive desperate situations in order to bring his friend justice.

9.) Marcie Rendon

Marcie Rendon is a citizen of the White Earth Nation. Her work closely looks at the lives of Indigenous people. This is especially true in her Pinkney Award–winning novel, Murder on the Red RiverWe are introduced to Cash Blackbear, a young woman making a living driving a truck who has an uncanny ability of finding trouble. So, where is the surprise when one day she finds herself looking down on the body of a dead Indian man in the middle of a field? What happens next is a beautiful fusion of investigative mystery and Native belief.

10.) Nelson DeMille

If you want to jump into the fast-paced world of military mystery, look no further than Nelson DeMille. A veteran of the Vietnam War, DeMille has been writing military thrillers for decades. One of his most beloved, The General’s Daughterput his name on the world stage. Now he has a new book out with his son, The Deserter, about a man who just might know too much about Pentagon running from his post in Afghanistan to turn up in South America.

11.) Joe Ide

The beauty about Joe Ide’s private investigator is that he’s a high school dropout—and he is over the LAPD taking their sweet time with murders and abductions in his neighborhood. So he starts investigating them himself. Isaiah get’s tagged with the nick name “IQ” for both his actual intelligence and as kind of a dig at his living situation. In order to make ends meet, however, he does have to take on paying clients. You can read the first novel, IQbut also check out Righteous and Wrecked

If you don’t see anything here that will strike your mystery fancy, check out our Tailored Book Recommendations subscription service! Tell us your reading habits and what authors you like and we’ll find books to keep you going.

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