It’s hard to imagine any fan of the modern private detective series who hasn’t at least brushed up against Elvis Cole. Robert Crais’s “World’s Greatest Detective,” along with his no-nonsense partner Joe Pike, have been wowing readers for decades with their relentless pursuit of the truth. And in recent years, the series seems to have taken on new momentum. Cole is as moral of a man as can be imagined, and he is willing to sacrifice anything for the good of those he decides to help, clients or not.
But what makes the series shine is Cole’s witty comebacks and roll-with-the-punches style. He is the epitome of what a hero should be, and almost any reader with a pulse will fall in love with him.
Fans who like a little noir in their modern private detective series need look no further than David Swinson’s Frank Marr. Swinson is an ex-police detective, and that experience lends a realism to the way his protagonist, disgraced ex-cop Frank Marr, goes about his work. All three installments in this short series, The Second Girl, Crime Song, and Trigger, bring with them both Marr’s streetwise dialog, and the constant reminder that the line between good and evil is often transgressed even by those we consider to be just.
Marr is likable in spite of deep character flaws, and this makes him a fresh voice in a genre that occasionally flirts with white knighting. Although Swinson has apparently moved onto a new series, readers will not regret getting to know Frank Marr.
Much like our own series author Michael Pool, Michael Koryta spent time working as a real-life private investigator. Koryta’s experience shines through in the Lincoln Perry series without derailing the storytelling in his books. Perry’s fieldwork has a realistic rhythm to it, but Koryta never sacrifices the larger-than-life storytelling that makes a good P.I. mystery work.
Perry has a quiet dignity that climbs off the page. He has hopes and dreams that echo the reality of real working private investigators, and these imbue him with a familiar and engaging quality that keeps the pages turning.
Koryta is a master of the genre, along with being an incredible thriller writer outside of it. These books do not disappoint, period.
Engaged fans of the P.I. genre have been buzzing about Sam Wiebe since his debut P.I. novel, the Unhanged Arthur Award-winning Last of the Independents. And although rights issues kept what would have been an incredible series featuring protagonist Michael Drayton from ultimately getting off the ground, Wiebe bounced back a few years later with Invisible Dead, his first novel featuring Vancouver private eye Dave Wakeland.
The series displays to perfection why we feel Wiebe is one of the premier artists writing in the P.I. genre. Wakeland is tough and introspective, with a keen eye that tracks social change but never misses an inch of the behavior displayed by those he questions.
He has a deep longing for a past that may or may not have existed, as well as a future that may not arrive if things keep going the way they are. The second novel Cut You Down only added to Wakeland’s depth as a series character while continuing to display Wiebe’s developing mastery of mixing the genre with modern social issues. Last we heard the series was in momentary limbo, but we hope to see much more from Dave Wakeland in the future, fingers crossed.
Find your next modern private detective series, Riley Reeves
Psst… We’ve got a pretty great detective series of our own coming out. Yeah, you knew we were gonna say that, right? Shameless… But the truth is, we’re excited about the launch of the Riley Reeve’s series via her debut novel by Michael Pool, Throwing Off Sparks. We know readers will fall in love with her fearless commentary and boundless devotion to her clients.
And like the other detectives on this list, she possesses a fearless focus bordering on obsession. Readers of each series mentioned above will find much to love in Riley. We hope you’ll consider checking out Throwing Off Sparks when it is released on May 12, 2020!