My list of "books to read before I die" is quite long, and grows daily. There is a reason why. It is because I am stalked, haunted, HOUNDED by a massive number of authors that write crime series novels, often at a clip of at least one or more a year. How can I get anything done? I am compelled to read them all, no matter their quality. Here is a list of those that immediately come to mind, if you are looking for that sort of lifelong commitment. Please let me know if I have missed anything obvious! Best ones first:
Lee Child - Jack Reacher series: This is one of my favorites, even though it packs alot of testosterone. Ex-military dude, hard-bodied, attracts women like flies but is a commitment-phobe, only carries a toothbrush with him and has no address. Wanders all over the country sleeping with women and kicking the ass of anybody making bad choices. Love it, love it, love it. Stephen King calls this "manfiction".
Janet Evanovich - Stephanie Plum series: OK, so sue me. It's bubblegum and cotton candy reading, very little substance, but reading it is like catching up with an old college friend in your old sweats with a glass of wine. Perky, goofy, clumsy girl is a bond enforcer who is in love with both an Italian cop and a mysterious half-Cuban hard-bodied fellow bond enforcer named Ranger (yeah baby). She frequently chases trouble with her sidekick, ex-ho Lula. Good for a belly laugh when you are feeling down.
Sue Grafton - Kinsey Millhone (alphabet) series: I am afraid Ms. Grafton is going to die before she gets to Z (I think she is on T right now). About a single, middle-aged private investigator, a commitment-phobe, best friend is her landlord that is in his 80's. Half humorous, half serious, always a good read.
Lawrence Block - Matthew Scudder series and Bernie Rhodenbarr series: I haven't even scratched the surface of these series. I started with Matthew Scudder, who is damaged ex-cop, and the books are dark. Loved the few I read. Ambled into the Bernie "Burglar" series, and love it even more. These are very light (ala Stephanie Plum) about a bookstore owner by day, burglar by night. Oh by the way, he only burgles people who deserve it.
Kathy Reichs - Tempe Brennan series: Ms. Reichs also writes for the TV show Bones, which is loosely based on the Tempe Brennan novels. Tempe is a forensic anthropologist (bone chic), is a recovering alcoholic, and has an on again, off again relationship with a homicide detective Andrew Ryan. You learn something in each of these novels. I like that.
Barry Eisler - John Rain series: Badass assassin that wants out of the business to nurture his relationship with fellow female assassin, but keeps getting pulled back in. Lots of butt kicking if you're in the mood. More manfiction.
James Lee Burke - Dave Robicheaux series: New Orleans cop and his friend Cletus chase down bad guys. Both men are quite damaged but have good hearts. Very gritty novels.
John Sandford - Lucas Davenport (prey) series: Independantly wealthy due to starting his own online gaming company, he is a homicide cop that breaks a few rules, has a temper and kicks butt. Was a habitual lady-killer, but finally settled down with his doctor wife and had kids. Didn't settle him down too much, which is good. I think Lucas and Jack Reacher would find alot in common, or maybe they would beat each other to a pulp.
Stuart Woods - Stone Barrington series: Stone is a lawyer in private practice that hands the cases his buddies don't want. This man is the king of all sleezebags when it comes to women. A number of these novels will give you your dose of steamy sex.
Perri O'Shaunessy - Nina Reilly series: Author is actually two sisters collaberating. About a single mom attorney in private practice that always ends up in the thick of things. She has an ex-husband, a fiance that was killed by a bad guy in one of the books, and an on again, off again relationship with her investigator. Lately I've had a hard time getting into these novels...don't know what is happening.
Michael Connelly - Harry Bosch series: A private investigator that has personal demons. Usually very excited and gritty. Never lets me down.
Robert Crais - Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series: Elvis and Joe are investigators, and the series focuses on one or the other, but they are both in each other's adventures. Elvis is a nice guy, Joe is a stone-faced badass that doesn't say much. I like him best.
Jonathan Kellerman - Alex Delaware series: Alex is a child psychiatrist that always gets in harms way. He gets help from his best friend Milo, who is a gay policeman. I am always entertained by these books, but about halfway through the series I started accurately predicting who the bad guy was, when there would be a discovery of a dead body, etc. I don't like to be able to figure this stuff out so easy!
Patricia Cornwell - Kay Scarpetta: I considered not mentioning this series because I am so disenchanted with it. She hooked me in early, and I loved every book, but lately I feel has gone to hell in a handbasket. Kay is a forensic pathologist that chases murderers, has a neice in Quantico, and a long-term affair with an FBI dude.