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Authors like Michael Connelly: Detectives, Lawyers and Cops

mel_candea_itcherMichael Connelly is known for his story-driven novels with tight dialogues, plot twists and indelible characters. We’ve come up with a list we think will satisfy your Connelly cravings, including John Connolly, Karin Slaughter and (of course) Raymond Carver. ~ Mel Candea

Michael Connelly is probably most famous for his creation of the noble LAPD Detective Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch, who deals with the seedier side of the City of Angels. To find authors like Michael Connelly isn’t an easy task, but it isn’t impossible. You simply need some key features:

The atmospheres are dark and detailed, many L.A.-based. The stories wrap as they twist and turn, sometimes turning back again.

 All of Connelly’s protagonists share similar traits- they’re stoic, fight the good fight and manage to retain a strong sense of righteousness no matter what darkness they face.
– The dialogues should either make your grin or keep your head spinning.
What authors are similar to Michael Connelly, and which will resonate with you? Take a look at our list for some great suggestions!
Raymond Chandler

As one of the founders of hard-boiled detective fiction- and a heavy influence on Michael Connelly- he’s considered one of the all-time best.

Chandler was a novelist and a screenwriter, and he created one of the most famous noir characters: Philip Marlowe. His books are almost all Los Angeles-based.

The plots are roller-coasters of clues, usually with a vixen/damsel involved. And the endings can force you to immediately begin at the start to find out what you missed.​

Book Recommendation: ‘The Little Sister’ (1949, #5 Philip Marlowe Series)

A seemingly-innocent young woman goes to Los Angeles and asks for Marlowe’s help to find her missing brother. The clues lead him to gangsters and a Hollywood connection; murders galore (with icepicks, no less); and a super surprising who-done-it reveal.

The settings, the detailed characters and the sardonic humor underlying the dialogues are very similar. Probably a perfect match of an author like Michael Connelly.

P.G. Sturges

P.G. Sturges grew up in Hollywood and has been a Jack-of-all-trades: a sailor, a playwright and a musician, to name a few.

His books starring Dick Henry have the hard-boiled noir feel with a sympathetic and humorous edge.

Book Recommendation: ‘The Shortcut Man’ (2011, #1 Dick Henry Series)

A stellar introduction to Dick Henry, the ‘shortcut man.’ He’s called that because he finds the shortest solutions to difficult problems (using not-strictly legal methods).

He’s hired by a man who wants to find out if his wife is cheating. She is. With Dick Henry. It takes all of his professional ingenuity to try to get out of the mess.

They both have characters you can instantly connect with as they struggle with the seamy side of Los Angeles. While Sturges uses more irony and wit- creating a lighter read- he’s a writer similar to Michael Connelly in how he creates compelling stories to solve.

Steve Martini

Image Source: Bookzangle

Steve Martini is an author like Michael Connelly thanks to his smart and complex courtroom thrillers. A former journalist then lawyer, his Paul Madriani series delivers believable characters with page-snapping plots.

Book Recommendation: ‘Compelling Evidence’ (1992, #1 Paul Madriani Series)

Paul Madriani has exiled himself to a small, private practice after a messy affair. When his mentor Ben Potter is killed, the evidence points to his wife, Talia Potter. Who also happens to be Paul’s ex-lover.

The prosecution is trying for the death penalty and it’s up to Madriani to prove her innocence.

If you’re a fan of Connelly’s Lincoln Lawyer (2005), then Martini is a great reading option for you. They both have introspective lawyers who unravel complicated cases for truth and justice. The books are fast and furious reads.

John Connolly

The Irish author began as a freelance journalist before exploring his passion for crime fiction. His hero, Charlie Parker, is an ex-NYPD Detective with his own very personal (and real) ghosts.

Book Recommendation: ‘Dark Hollow’ (2000, #2 Charlie Parker Series)

Charlie goes to Maine to recoup and regroup his energy when he gets caught up in the murder of a mother and child, which echoes his own loss. He joins the manhunt for the serial killer.

The two main differences between the authors are that Connolly’s novels have a much more modern feel and they touch on supernatural elements. Pacing, great characters and moody backgrounds, however, are very similar to Michael Connelly’s books.

Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is an Atlanta-based author that is famous for her Grant County series and a very graphic, grim who-done-it writing style.

Book Recommendation: ‘Fractured’ (2008 Will Trent #2)

Will Trent is a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent who was responsible for a lot of ill will from the Atlanta police force. A kidnapping/murder case forces him to pair with homicide detective Faith Mitchell- and she’s not happy about it. The mishandled case leaves them uncovering clues to find out if a victim is still alive.

While Slaughter is certainly not for squeamish readers, she is a Michael Connelly type author in her creation of complete characters you invest in and top-notch, rich atmospheres as a backdrop for the crimes.


Honourable Mentions

– Robert Crais: ‘L.A. Requiem’ (1999, #8 Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Series)

– Lawrence Block: ‘When the Sacred Ginmill Closes’ (1986, Matthew Scudder Series)

– Dennis Lehane: ‘Gone Baby Gone’ (1998, #4 Kenzie & Gennaro Series)
– Interview: ‘How I Write: Michael Connelly

What about You Connelly Fans? 

Have you found replacements or other authors like Michael Connelly to sate your detective or courtroom appetite? What do you think of our list?
Let us know in the comments below!
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