What novels are like the Bosch series? That’s a question often raised by fans of the beloved Michael Connolly series looking for their next fix. Here are seven crime thriller gems featuring brilliant, angst-ridden detectives who will do anything to ensure justice is served:
- Thin Air, an LA Noir Crime Novel by Lisa Gray
- This Storm, an LA Crime Thriller by James Ellroy
- The Lumbermill, an LA Noir Crime Novel by Laya V Smith
- Tokyo Traffic, a Crime Novel by Michael Pronko
- Cold Heart Creek, a Nail-Biting Crime Thriller by Lisa Regan
- Bring Me Flowers, a Small Town Murder Mystery by D.K. Hood
- A Thin Line, a Crime Novel by Craig N. Cooper
👇 Check out the book reviews below to see full details. 👇
Bosch is on a Roll
Just as Amazon Prime is wrapping up the 7th season of the adaptation of the Bosch series, an entirely new Bosch series has been announced. The increased exposure is sure to send many casual fans ever deeper into the Connolly catalog.
But just like a fine wine, Bosch books are in limited supply.
The first Harry Bosch book, Black Echo, won the prestigious Edgar book award for best first novel.
Just what makes Bosch so appealing?
For starters, Connolly’s intrepid detective is a consummate rule-breaker, willing to do whatever it takes to put society’s scum behind bars. At the same time, he’s guided by a code of ethics that make him a good cop and an even better human being.
He’s also haunted by a dark past with grief that cannot be weighed.
And then there’s the jazz.
Bosch doesn’t just love jazz. He is in fact a reflection of it. He plays the moody, simmering head with the rest of the band, but once the case gets rolling, he’s a soloist.
Improvising beautifully, feeding off the gritty energy that Los Angeles exudes while his fellow cops, and his long-suffering family, play behind him.
Classic LA Noir.
Bosch Fans, here are seven crime thrillers that are strongly reminiscent of your favorite detective.
Books Like Bosch
Thin Air, an Impressive Work of LA Noir by Lisa Gray
One of the most impressive debut thrillers of the past decade.
Readers who love LA noir are in for a treat with Lisa Gray’s gripping debut novel, Thin Air. The driving force in the novel is a photograph sent anonymously to private investigator Jessica Shaw of a three-year-old girl who has been kidnapped. The little girl, it turns out, is her.
Who sent it to her, and why?
The answers lie in the shadows of LA, where her biological mother was killed the night she was abducted, 25 years earlier. The LAPD has forgotten all about the unsolved murder.
Meanwhile, veteran LAPD detective Jason Pryce is in the midst of a gruesome investigation into a murdered college student moonlighting as a prostitute. A chance encounter leads to them crossing paths, but Jessica soon realizes that Pryce is hiding something about her father’s checkered history and her mother’s death.
Gray’s protagonist, Jessica Shaw, battles serious demons that will test readers’ sympathy and loyalty. Does Gray know Los Angeles as well as LA noir specialist James Ellroy? Perhaps not, but for a first novel, Thin Air is amazing. Shifting perspectives keep readers on their toes. Those who stay on board until the final chapter are in for some terrific surprises.
Gray’s new fans can look forward to the second book in the series, which is due out in a few months.
This Storm, a Smoldering New LA Crime Thriller by James Ellroy
This Storm is strictly for fans of LA Noir and James Ellroy completionists.
With This Storm, the author of classics like LA Confidential and Black Dahlia has entered yet another novel in the canon of crime thrillers set in the city of angels. As torrential rain hits LA in 1942, a body is unearthed in Griffith Park. The cops rate it a routine dead-man job, but they’re wrong. The murder has everything and nothing to do with the war against the Japanese and the Nazis.
Ellroy is the undisputed king of LA noir, and he’s got the flavor just right, down to the World War II-era atmosphere and jargon of the early 40s. The city itself is a simmering, brooding character.
But the novel is also crowded with characters whose relationships to one another aren’t always readily apparent. Ellroy has produced a gem, but due to the massive cast of characters and Ellroy’s style, which now very partial to short, clipped sentences and shifting points of view, be prepared to work to extract the plot from the art.
Corrupt cop Elmer Jackson is a flesh peddler and a bagman for the L.A. Chief of Police. Hideo Ashida is a crime-lab whiz, caught up in the maelstrom of the Japanese internment. Dudley Smith is an LAPD hardnose working Army Intelligence. He’s gone rogue and gone all-the-way Fascist. Joan Conville was born rogue. She’s a defrocked Navy lieutenant and a war profiteer to her core.
Up for a meaty, challenging read? By all means dive in, or listen to the beautifully narrated audiobook.
The Lumbermill, a Compelling LA Noir Crime Novel by Laya V Smith
This tasty 1950s L.A. noir crime novel goes down smoother than an Old Fashioned. Highly recommended.
Start with an intriguing balance of icy underworld, a down-on-his luck detective and his bitter past. Add tart and zesty characters that you can’t help but root for from the get-go, and stir vigorously.
Veteran fighter pilot-turned-detective Augy Small is down on his luck with no place to call his own, and he’s kept it mum to spare his sister worry and stave off any more gloating from his pompous brother-in-law. But in a freak moment that will change the trajectory of his life, Augy’s borrowed Ford truck collides with a woman running for her life across an LA canyon road late at night.
Soon Augy and this bloodied dark-haired beauty with a Russian accent are both running for their lives as the assailant emerges. The pair make a getaway, but before he can get her medical treatment she disappears. His only clue: a strange numerical brand he spied seared onto her shoulders. But is Augy prepared to find Katya, the mysterious woman who needs his help? And will he be able to keep it together as he dives into a dark case of human trafficking and medical experiments that force him to come to terms with his own painful past?
Author Laya V Smith proves that richly drawn characters and plot can make fine bedfellows in the noir genre. Smith’s cast is drawn with a deft hand that winks at the camp of the genre, yet feel real enough to draw readers in to be deeply invested in their journeys. Let’s hope Smith is already working on a sequel.
Tokyo Traffic, a First-rate Crime Novel by Michael Pronko
A first-rate hardboiled crime novel set at the nexus between porn, human trafficking, crypto-currency fraud and murder.
Michael Pronko’s third Detective Hiroshi series novel begins with a bang as Sukanya, a drugged Thai teenager, narrowly escapes a brutal mass murder at a well-known porn studio. In shock, she flees with a bag, an iPad and a computer containing damning evidence.
When Detective Hiroshi arrives to survey the crime scene, he discovers that one of the dead is a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Finance. He also finds a folder filled with passports for girls from five different Asian countries. What was the motive? Who would target foreign girls, a well-known film director, and a bureaucrat all at the same time?
Forensic accounting is Hiroshi’s superpower, and he wields it deftly to audit the porn studio’s systems – or at least what little evidence the sophisticated crime syndicate left behind. Meanwhile, a gangster named Kenta – the link between the studio, the girls, the government and the murders – turns on the tracking signal that he hopes will lead him to recover the incriminating items Sukanya stole from the studio.
While Pronko reveals the key players behind the crimes right from the start, riding along with Hiroshi as he meticulously hunts them down is intensively satisfying. Along with his forensic study, he employs a good deal of old fashioned shoe leather, and that’s where the novel’s texture really shines. Hiroshi’s Tokyo is an extremely evocative universe, and the places he visits in the course of the investigation – ranging from his favorite jazz-themed coffee shop to a basement nightclub or the cobblestoned Kagurazaka shopping district – are drawn with just enough sensory detail to induce the imagination without slowing the book’s perfect pacing.
With Tokyo Traffic, Pronko further establishes Hiroshi as one of the most distinctive and intrepid detectives in contemporary crime fiction.
Cold Heart Creek, a Nail-Biting Crime Thriller by Lisa Regan
A cult, a double-homicide and a decidedly dark tone add up to a satisfying thriller you can finish on a coast-to-coast flight.
Still reeling from the news that her abusive mother is dying, Josie suspects this is more than just accidental poisoning, and she’s right: someone jammed a crudely carved pendant necklace down Valerie’s throat before she died.
Combing the area, Josie’s team discover a third sleeping bag indicating there could have been an extra guest around the fire that night. A lucky escape? A missing victim? Or a suspect on the run? Finding this person is the key to the entire investigation…
Trawling the couple’s photo albums for clues, Josie can’t imagine why anyone might want to harm these smiling, carefree young lovers. Until a face in one of the pictures stops her in her tracks and leads her to a farmhouse hidden deep within the forest – a special place where people go to escape, and to hide. There they meet a young girl with frightened eyes and bandaged wrists who knows more than she is saying. But the next day she’s found dead, choked with a matching necklace…
With her mother’s life hanging by a thread, Josie has an impossible decision to make. But first she must find the meaning of the pendant and catch this twisted killer before another innocent life is taken. Is she already too late?
While this may be the series’ 7th installment, newcomers won’t have any problem jumping right in. As protagonists go, Josie isn’t particularly deep or complicated, and the investigator’s personal life with her live-in boyfriend is fairly disposable. Author Lisa Regan really shines as a deft constructor of taut whodunnits, and this book is bound to satisfy most crime thriller fans.
Bring Me Flowers, a Small Town Murder Mystery by D.K. Hood
Fans of small town murder mysteries will love this gem of a novel.
Hidden deep in the forest, schoolgirl Felicity Parker is found carefully laid out on a rock with nothing but a freshly picked bunch of flowers next to her. The body lies just off a popular hiking route, and Detective Jenna Alton thinks the killer might be a visitor to the town, until another girl’s body is found at the local swimming pool, once again posed with a bunch of flowers.
Jenna recognizes the signs of a serial killer, and thinks it could be a local. As the town is gripped with fear, Jenna must examine each person the girls knew, and trust between neighbors starts to crumble.
Both girls went out on their own, and were found where they shouldn’t be. Were they taken by chance, or did they know their killer? How were they lured so far from safety? And can Jenna and her team find the killer before another life is lost?
There’s little fat on this fast-paced murder mystery, as Hook gets right to the point and never lets go. Not for the faint of heart.
A Thin Line, a Crime Thriller by Craig N. Cooper
Fans of Michael Connelly’s Bosch series will love Agent Garrison Chase.
When FBI Agent Garrison Chase’s old mentor Slim shows up unannounced and badly beaten, he knows trouble can’t be far behind. Years earlier, Chase and Slim had been recruited to kill a Thai General and human trafficker called The Rat. They failed, and now Slim is set to testify against him – if he can first survive an attempted poisoning.
Chase knows that simply by association, his own life may already be in danger. Meanwhile, he learns that Slim has been hired by congresswoman and presidential candidate Henrietta Valenzuela to investigate her opponent Barrington Bradford Bollinger III. She purportedly suspects that the candidate is faking his blindness, and Slim asks for Chase’s help. But before he can make much progress, Chase is framed for the murder of someone he’s close to.
The second installment in author Craig N. Hooper’s Garrison Chase series begins with a bang, featuring one of the greatest opening lines we’ve seen all year: “The man who taught me two different ways to kill a person with my index finger showed up on my doorstep at twenty past six.” As with Hooper’s stellar debut, The Greatest Good, The Thin Line manages to operate within the dirty world of politics without being remotely political while delivering a thoroughly satisfying FBI procedural. While Chase has his theories as to the complex network of human trafficking, murder and politics at the book’s core, Hooper manages to deliver surprises until the very end.
Much like Harry Bosch in Michael Connelly’s outrageously successful series, Chase is obsessed with two things: delivering justice in a hopelessly unjust world, and protecting the fragmented remains of his family. Written in the first person, Chase exudes humanity and a depth of character that is rare for the genre. In particular, his relationship with Karla is expertly written, beautifully exploring the reality that those close to him always seem to pay a high price. Highly recommended.