Noir mysteries often star a hard-boiled private detective up against a violent city and a corrupt legal system.
Black tea or coffee
Why they go together:
Nothing says gritty, dark, and dreary like black tea and coffee. The added caffeine is a nice benefit as the protagonists tend to work long hours into the night while solving crimes.
Where to start:
Private eye Philip Marlowe made Raymond Chandler's name synonymous with America's hard-boiled school of crime fiction. The Big Sleep was an instant success when first published in 1939. It centers around a paralyzed California millionaire with two psychopathic daughters. He involves Marlowe in a case of blackmail that turns into murder.
Cain's first novel—the subject of an obscenity trial in Boston and the inspiration for Camus' The Stranger—is the fever-pitched tale of a drifter who stumbles into a job, into an erotic obsession, and into a murder.
On January 15, 1947, the torture-ravished body of a beautiful young woman is found in a Los Angeles vacant lot. The victim makes headlines as the Black Dahlia—and so begins the greatest manhunt in California history. Caught up in the investigation are Bucky Bleichert and Lee Blanchard: Warrants Squad cops, friends, and rivals in love with the same woman. But both are obsessed with the Dahlia—driven by dark needs to know everything about her past, to capture her killer, to possess the woman even in death. Their quest will take them on a hellish journey through the underbelly of postwar Hollywood, to the core of the dead girl's twisted life, past the extremes of their own psyches—into a region of total madness.
Suave Tom Ripley, a young striver, is newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan. A product of a broken home and branded a "sissy" by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley meets a wealthy industrialist who hires him to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley's fascination with Dickie's debonair lifestyle turns obsessive as he finds himself enraged by Dickie's ambivalent affections for Marge, a charming American dilettante.
The disappearance forty years ago of Harriet Vanger, a young scion of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden, gnaws at her octogenarian uncle, Henrik Vanger. Determined to know the truth about what he believes was her murder, he hires crusading journalist Mikael Blomkvist to get to the bottom of Harriet's disappearance. Lisbeth Salander, a tattooed genius hacker, possessed of the hard-earned wisdom of someone twice her age—and a terrifying capacity for ruthlessness—assists Blomkvist with the investigation. This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, an astonishing corruption at the highest echelon of Swedish industrialism—and a surprising connection between themselves.