Growing up in a small town in Texas, I was so obsessed with L.A. stories that all I wanted to do was pack my bags and head west. Unfortunately, my mother wasn’t on board with my plan and I was forced to settle on reading about the City of Angels instead.
Now that I call L.A. home, I understand there’s so much more to this place than the walk of fame and sunset strip. Here are five of my favorite L.A. thrillers that showcase the good, the bad, the glamorous, and the places in between.
A classic L.A. crime novel, my original obsession with Hollywood noir began here. The Black Dahlia stands the test of time, exploring one of the most famous unsolved Hollywood murders while taking the reader on a tour of post-war Hollywood and its sinister underbelly.
Related: Hollie Overton’s tips for creating tension in thriller novels and TV scripts
Joe Ide burst onto the thriller scene with his New York Times debut novel, IQ, which follows Isaiah Quintabe, a high school dropout turned private investigator, working to solve crimes for his neighbors in his East Long Beach neighborhood. Ide grew up in South Central, far from celebrities and TMZ culture, and he incorporates his knowledge and love for his neighborhood.
Related: 4 Reasons Why Joe Ide’s IQ Series is a Must-Read
A master of L.A. noir, Michael Connelly’s novels are always a true love letter to L.A. Though it’s hard to pick a favorite, I’ve got a soft spot for Angels Flight, a Harry Bosch novel, which explores the murder of a high-profile lawyer found on Angels Flight, a cable railway in downtown L.A. that became a historical landmark in the city.
Related: Explore more of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch books.
Hollie Overton is the author of The Runaway. Hollie is a television writer and resides in Los Angeles.
The search for a teenage runaway sends her foster mother, a psychologist working for the LAPD, on a dangerous journey through Los Angeles' criminal underworld, in this gripping new thriller by the author of the international bestseller Baby Doll.
You'll do anything to protect her.
But you'll have to find her first.
When LAPD forensic psychologist Becca Ortiz agrees to foster teenage runaway Ash, she knows she will love and protect her as her own daughter.
Ash may have turned her back on her old life on the streets, but there is still one person who she can't bear to lose. Now he is about to drag her back into a dark world where nothing and no one is safe.
How far will Becca go to save her daughter?
And can she find her before it's too late?
For more from Hollie Overton, check out these books:
Looking for the best crime fiction of the year? We’ve lined up our favorite award-winning mysteries and thrillers of 2018 just for you! If you haven’t read these yet, we recommend adding them to your 2019 reading lists, too.
2018 Edgar Award for Best Novel and 2018 Anthony Award for Best Novel
Best novel, indeed! Attica Locke is a master of unfolding a mystery that will keep you turning the page, creating characters that immediately come to life, and placing you in her settings where you’ll be fanning yourself from the heat even in the dead of winter. With her latest novel, we follow Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger who is technically on suspension. But his suspension isn’t going to keep him from investigating a small town after a black man from out of town and a local white woman end up dead. An exploration of race and justice in the U.S., set in East Texas, this is a crime novel not to be missed. Don’t believe me? It won Best Novel!
2018 Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author
2018 Agatha Award for Best First Novel and 2018 Anthony Award Winner for Best First Novel
2018 Lamda Literary Award for Lesbian Mystery
2018 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Crime Novel
I’ve become a bit obsessed with Australian crime novels the last few years, so any list that points me to more titles to read is always good. Especially, an award list. Set in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock takes the case of a former high school classmate who has been murdered. Time to unravel all the secrets! Why did Rosalind move back to her small-town? Why was she in a rundown apartment when her father is rich? And is this case going to be what drags Woodstock’s own secrets out into the light? Definitely time for a dun-dun-Dun!
2018 Audie Awards for Best Female Narrator and Young Adult
Enjoy these award-winning mystery and thrillers!
Sandra Brown is well-known for her heart-pounding plots and sizzling will they-or-won’t they relationships. If you want a thriller with tantalizing suspense and romance, we recommend devouring her newest novel, Tailspin (now in paperback). If you love it as much as we do, you’ll want to add these other fast-paced reads to your shelf, too!
Pilot Rye Mallett is a bit of a maverick, willing to deliver his cargo no matter the weather, location, or goods—so long as the price is right.
But when a mysterious Dr. Lambert asks him to deliver a black box to an isolated Georgian town, Mallett finds that he may have taken on the most dangerous assignment of his life.
Dr. Brynn O’Neal, Lambert’s beautiful colleague, joins Mallet on the quest to deliver the package in only 48 hours, all the while dodging some very dangerous assailants.
Harley McKenna has never been more than her father’s daughter—a quick-witted wild child and the heir to his rural drug empire. But now that her father's biggest rivals are moving into his territory, they're ready to kill Harley just like they killed her mother.
Unwilling to let her father’s violent world destroy her, Harley decides to turn against him and try to take down both her father and his rivals. Harley will have to betray his trust, blow up meth labs, and avoid getting caught, but she knows it's the only way she can save her own life.
Related: The Most Badass Women in Mystery & Thriller
Dan Simmons’ The Terror is sure to give you chills. This suspenseful novel based on real events follows the men of the HMS Terror as they search the Arctic for the Northwest Passage.
However, when their leader comes to a gruesome end, the remaining crew must try desperately to travel south. They hope to find safety, but neither nature nor the terror stalking them is kind.
We highly recommend the AMC series adaptation of The Terror, too.
Nola Brown is an Army painter and trained soldier. Or, at least, she was.
The US government confirms that Nola is dead after her body is found on a plane that mysteriously fell from the sky as it left a secret military base.
Much to his surprise, when Jim “Zig” Zigarowski, who is responsible for interring the bodies of soldiers who die on top-secret missions, tries to lay her to rest, he learns that is she actually alive and on the run.
Together Zig and Nola set out to uncover a secret that the government has been keeping for centuries.
Related: Brad Meltzer's All-Time Favorite Books
Valentine Pescatore is a globetrotting former Border Patrol agent finally back on US soil. However, he’s not here for pleasantries. He's investigating the brutal killing of a group of women in their motel room.
When Pescatore realizes that the killer is tracking a witness who knows too much, what seemed to be a straightforward gang-related murder quickly takes on a more sinister tone.
Cindy Butor is currently finishing her Master’s in Library Science at the University of Kentucky. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her girlfriend Sam and their perfect, yet exacting cat Dinah. She’s a Book Riot contributor and can be found Tweeting @babble_drabble.
Hello, August! We are now deliriously hot and debating breaking up with summer. But before we do, there are a lot of new books that our crime loving hearts need. Please, and thank you!
Rye Mallett takes on more than he bargained for when his plane is ambushed upon delivering a mysterious black box in a town in Georgia. He was only meant to deliver the cargo, but he’s intrigued by Dr. Brynn O'Neal, and soon they’re running from the law and those willing to kill for the cargo—but can they trust each other?! Mystery, romance, and suspense—what more could you ask for?
Related: Sandra Brown's All-Time Favorite Novels Might Surprise You
We have another Texas Ranger, except this one is a suspect in his ex-wife’s murder. Ooh, ever since The Fugitive we've have been big fans of main characters suspected of the crime having to go and solve the crime in order to clear their names. We have no doubt that Yates has his work cut out for him, and being a James Patterson novel, this will surely be a page-turning thriller.
Bluebird, Bluebird is now in paperback, so if you’ve yet to read this fantastic mystery, go forth and read! Attica Locke is one of the best crime writers. That’s it, that’s why you should read this novel.
Ha, okay, but we’ll give you more. Darren Mathews is a black Texas Ranger, technically on suspension, who can’t walk away from the mystery of a white woman and black man who were murdered in a small Texas town. No one wants Mathews there trying to solve the case, but he’s not leaving until he does. Bluebird, Bluebird is a great mystery, rooted in setting that takes a deep look at race and the justice system in the U.S.
When we saw The Toronto Star call Camaro Espinoza the “female Jack Reacher,” we were immediately all-in. Camaro, an ex-army medic, lives an uncomplicated life spent fighting at the gym and drinking at the bar.
When a terrified woman begs for her help to stop a violent stalker, Camaro uncovers a web of federal agents, money-launderers, crooked security contractors, and paramilitary killers who all have a reason to take her down. But Camaro doesn’t flinch when violence comes her way, and she has a singular talent for making her enemies sorry they ever heard her name.
Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam, and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. But when an old friend visits their Swedish paradise, she sees the things that others might miss—treacherous things almost impossible to believe when looking at this perfect family. The truth is that some families have very dark secrets, and the truth is rarely what they want the world to see.