Monday, November 15, 2010

Jonathan Woods' Essential Noir Novels

Jonathan Woods is the author of the deeply, brilliantly depraved Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem, from the venerable New Pulp Press. I asked him to contribute not because we're both associated with NPN, but because Bad Juju absolutely blew me away with its sheer wickedness and warped vision. As you might expect, his list is wildly eclectic. You can visit Jonathan's website at

Jonathan writes:

"As you can see my list is very personal and idiosyncratic and wanders fairly far afield to include some “literary” types such as Conrad, Camus, Nabokov and Burroughs. Besides the fact that the listed books by these writers are great examples of noir, I think it shows how the influence of the noir sensibility extends far beyond the traditional boundaries of crime fiction.
Many great crime writers, such as Hammett, Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Ross Thomas, Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke, are not on my list because I don’t think of them as writers of noir per se. Others, like David Goodis, are not there because I’ve actually never read a David Goodis novel. Hopefully this deficiency will be remedied soon.
So, for better or worse here, in no particular order of preference, here are my favorite 30 noir crime novels plus one collection of noir short stories."

1. Young Adam by Alexander Trocchi
2. Children of Light by Robert Stone
3. The Stranger by Albert Camus
4. Double Indemnity by James M. Cain
5. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
6. Miami Blues by Charles Williford
7. The Complete Tales by Edgar Allan Poe
8. Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
9. I Was Dora Suarez by Derek Raymond
10. Muscle for the Wing by Daniel Woodrell
11. Wild at Heart by Barry Gifford
12. The Real Cool Killers by Chester Himes
13. Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
14. Port Tropique by Barry Gifford
15. The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad
16. Clandestine by James Ellroy
17. As God Commands by Niccolo Ammaniti
18. I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti
19. Shear by Tim Parks
20. The Two Faces of January by Patricia Highsmith
21. Jack’s Return Home (Get Carter) by Ted Lewis
22. The Book of Revelation by Rupert Thomson
23. The Oldest Confession by Richard Condon
24. Angels by Denis Johnson
25. Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov
26. The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips
27. The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins
28. Sanctuary by William Faulkner
29. Rilke on Black by Ken Bruen
30. An American Dream by Norman Mailer
31. Duffy by Dan Kavanagh

Here's the trailer for Jonathan Woods' Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem:
Bad Juju Trailer.


  1. That's a good un too. Camus of course, good choice of Highmsith and barry gifford, yep.The Ice Harvest, yes, yes, yes!

  2. Very eclectic choices. You strike my curiosity by naming Nabokov, Faulkner and Mailer

  3. Child of God is McCarthy's single most overlooked--and most disturbing--novel. Great choices, John.

  4. I put Child Of God No. 6 in my list of most top 10 disturbing novels as a part of "The Broke & Bookish" top 10 Tuesdays. A novel like no other.