Ring in the Noir Year: 2016 Edition — 8 More Promising Crime Titles

Header Image by Randy Kashka

I've been made aware of the fact that it's 2016, but in my post-holiday fog it still seems unlikely. Another 12 months have vanished since I wrote a New Year's roundup of 2015's most promising noir, mystery, and true crime. Writers will keep writing, of course, and there's a whole new selection of grim and gritty tales to choose from. Break out the smokes and champagne, because it's that time of the year again. 

'The Verdict' by Nick Stone

December 7th (2015)

The only title on this list already in print, The Verdict can be your New Year's hangover cure. If you were a lawyer, would you be able to defend a man that you loathed? The trial could make your struggling career, but the defendant also happened to ruin your life once upon a time. These are the circumstances that Terry Flynt finds himself in when a millionaire is accused of murder. In the end he must decide which is sweeter—revenge or justice.


'While The City Slept: A Love Lost to Violence and a Young Man's Descent into Madness' by Eli Sanders

February 2nd

While The City Slept is a true crime story that stems from Sanders' Pulitzer-winning news reporting about one young man's descent into insanity. It's the portrayal of a real case with real people, handled carefully by an author who paints every character as human. Pick this one up for some intelligent discourse on crime and mental illness.


'Shutter Man' by Richard Montanari

Februrary 9th

Billy is an unusual killer. A member of Philadelphia's notorious Farren family, he has a disease that prevents him from recognizing faces. As a result, he carries a photograph of his target at all times. As Detective Kevin Byrne traces the murders to his own childhood home, Shutter Man begins a dizzying journey through multiple generations of crimes and their perpetrators.


'Hidden Bodies' by Caroline Kepnes

February 23rd

Hidden Bodies is Kepnes' continuation of her 2015 debut, You. It's a title that Booklist called “the love child of Holden Caulfield and Patrick Bateman.” Her writing has also received high praise from Stephen King and Lena Dunham, respectively. Make of that what you will. Joe Goldberg blends in easily with the young professionals in his new L.A. neighborhood, but that could change in an instant if the bodies he's buried ever find their way back to the surface.


'The Passenger' by Lisa Lutz

March 1st

In case you were wondering, I didn’t do it. I didn’t have anything to do with Frank’s death. I don’t have an alibi, so you’ll have to take my word for it...” Lutz's protagonist changes her identity so often, she has three names in the book's Amazon synopsis alone. If you like unreliable narrators, Tanya-Amelia-Debra sounds like she has a lot to offer. After abandoning her dead husband at the bottom of the stairs, she embarks on a quest across the country, hoping to leave her past with him. 


'A Burglar's Guide to the City' by Geoff Manaugh

April 5th

Do you ever find yourself wondering how difficult it would be to pull off a heist? Maybe you see it as a puzzle, not something you'd ever do in real life (or so you emphatically insist to worried friends and relatives). If so, A Burglar's Guide to the City is a dream come true. A combination of architecture, technology, and true crime, Manaugh's research for the book includes expert opinions from both sides of the law.


'The Killer in Me' by Margot Harrison

July 12th

Harrison's young adult psychological thriller is already garnering praise from early reviewers. It tells the story of Nina Barrows, a teenager who is hunting the Thief, a killer who dumps his victims down a mine shaft in the middle of a desert. When Nina hunts the Thief down, however, she finds a different man than the one she was expecting. The blurb asks, “which is more terrifying: the possibility that your nightmares are real. . . or the possibility that they begin and end with you?” 


'The Knife Slipped' by Erle Stanley Gardner

December (2016)

The Knife Slipped was originally written as the second installment in Gardner's Cool and Lam detective series, but Bertha Cool's tendency to "talk tough, swear, smoke cigarettes, and try to gyp people" was apparently too much for publishers back in 1939. Even though you'll have to wait another year for this title to make its long overdue appearance, I wanted to mention it because Gardner's work got a bit of a revival in 2015. The American Bar Association's new consumer-oriented publishing imprint just released a number of Gardner's popular Perry Mason titles as reprints, making it easy to enjoy these classics right away. Amazon link to the first of the reprints included below.

There you have it, just in time for the darkest months of the year. Is there a title you're looking forward to in 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Leah Dearborn

Column by Leah Dearborn

Leah Dearborn is a Boston-based writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in international relations from UMass Boston. She started writing for LitReactor in 2013 while paying her way through journalism school and hopping between bookstore jobs (R.I.P. Borders). In the years since, she’s written articles about everything from colonial poisoning plots to city council plans for using owls as pest control. If it’s a little strange, she’s probably interested.

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