12 Best Authors Like Walter Mosley: Exploring Mystery and Intrigue

Discover a world of gripping crime fiction with these authors like Walter Mosley, who masterfully weave intriguing plots, complex characters, and atmospheric settings.

Walter Mosley, a distinguished writer in the realm of crime fiction, has captivated readers with his immersive storytelling and unforgettable characters. Mosley has crafted a literary legacy that has inspired countless fans of the genre. As the creator of the iconic Easy Rawlins series, which began with the groundbreaking novel Devil in a Blue Dress, he skillfully explored themes of race, social injustice, and morality.

The crime fiction genre has long been a staple of popular literature, offering readers a thrilling escape into a world of mystery, intrigue, and danger. With its deep roots in hard-boiled detective fiction and noir, this genre has evolved to encompass many subgenres and styles, appealing to a diverse audience.

As fans of Walter Mosley search for new literary adventures, many talented authors continue to expand the horizons of crime fiction, providing readers with captivating tales that challenge and entertain. Get paid to write essays! Find out how in our guide.

Best Authors Like Walter Mosley Ranked

1. Chester Himes, 1909 – 1984

Chester Himes
Black and white photo of author Chester Himes

Chester Himes, an African-American author, gained fame primarily for his crime fiction contributions. Hailing from Jefferson City, Missouri, he eventually relocated to Los Angeles during the 1940s. He began his published career by penning stories for various pulp magazines while he served time in the Ohio Penitentiary for armed robbery. His literary work centered on racial and class-related social issues, employing a raw and genuine tone that struck a chord with readers.

Himes is renowned for his Harlem Detective collection, which introduces Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones as key characters. The series commenced with A Rage in Harlem in 1957 and extended to eight additional novels, chronicling the duo’s escapades in Harlem’s crime-infested streets. Himes’ signature style in this series blends wit, violence, and intelligent dialogue.

“Only a fool would believe that policemen are not human.”

Chester Himes, A Rage in Harlem
A Rage in Harlem (Harlem Detectives Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Himes, Chester (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 226 Pages - 07/20/2011 (Publication Date) - Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Publisher)

2. Raymond Chandler, 1888 – 1959

Raymond Chandler
Black and white photo of Raymond Chandler smoking a pipe

Raymond Chandler, a British-American author, and scriptwriter, gained recognition for his imaginative and expressive crime fiction. Born in Chicago, he later relocated to Los Angeles, where his enthusiasm for crafting detective narratives blossomed between his odd jobs of picking fruit and stringing tennis rackets. Chandler’s literary works are celebrated for their vibrant imagery, elaborate storylines, and unforgettable characters, shaping the noir genre.

Among his most highly esteemed novels is The Big Sleep, starring the legendary private investigator Philip Marlowe. Released in 1939, the book unravels a convoluted and captivating narrative of deceit and homicide in Los Angeles. Chandler’s writing in this novel demonstrates his skill at constructing atmospheric environments and lively, captivating conversations.

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.”

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep (Classic bestseller)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Raymond Chandler (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 177 Pages - 04/03/2020 (Publication Date) - Aegitas (Publisher)

3. Dashiell Hammett, 1894 – 1961

Dashiell Hammett
Black and white photo of Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett is an American writer and political advocate who significantly shaped the hard-boiled detective fiction style. Hailing from Maryland, Hammett utilized his background as a private investigator to compose novels imbued with realism, grit, and tension. His literary style is marked by succinct prose, skepticism, and vibrant, ethically complex personas.

Hammett’s most well-known work is The Maltese Falcon, starring the tough-minded sleuth Sam Spade. Published in 1930, the novel presents an exhilarating enigma centered around pursuing a valuable relic. Hammett’s adept way of storytelling, intelligent dialogue, and elaborate plots have solidified The Maltese Falcon’s status as a cornerstone of detective crime fiction.

“When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it.”

Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

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4. Ross Macdonald, 1915 – 1983

Ross Macdonald is the pseudonym for Kenneth Millar, a Canadian-American crime fiction writer. Even today, Macdonald is esteemed as one of the genre’s exceptional talents. He was born in Los Gatos, California, and delved into literature and history studies before embracing a writing career. His novels stand out for their psychological profundity, complex narratives, and emphasis on his characters’ driving forces and ethical decisions.

Macdonald’s most famous character is private investigator Lew Archer, who first appeared in the novel The Moving Target. The series continued with seventeen more novels, including the highly acclaimed The Chill. Archer’s cases often delve into complex family histories and explore guilt, redemption, and human frailty themes.

“Nothing is wrong with Southern California that a rise in the ocean level wouldn’t cure.”

Ross Macdonald, The Moving Target
The Moving Target (Lew Archer Series Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Macdonald, Ross (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 257 Pages - 12/08/2010 (Publication Date) - Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (Publisher)

5. George Pelecanos, 1957 –

George Pelecanos
Photo of George Pelecanos at the 2013 Texas Book Festival

George Pelecanos is a contemporary author of crime fiction and a television producer known for his true-to-life and evocative portrayals of urban existence. Born in Washington, D.C., Pelecanos has an insider’s understanding of the city’s diverse neighborhoods and cultures, which he vividly depicts in his novels. His literary works frequently explore themes of race, class, and the aftermath of violence.

Pelecanos’ renowned series highlights private investigator Derek Strange, starting with Right as Rain and extending to three additional novels. Strange is a multi-dimensional and relatable character whose cases often bring to light the darker facets of society. Pelecanos’ masterful description of locations and multifaceted characterizations distinguish this collection within the contemporary crime genre.

“Sometimes you gotta live by the rules of the streets to survive ’em.”

George Pelecanos, Right as Rain
Right as Rain (Derek Strange and Terry Quinn Series Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Pelecanos, George (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 326 Pages - 10/23/2008 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

6. James Ellroy, 1948 –

James Ellroy
Photo of James Elroy at a book signing

James Ellroy, a distinguished American crime fiction author, is known for his powerful and somber writing style. Hailing from Los Angeles, Ellroy’s early life was influenced by a tragic psycho-sexual event, leaving a lasting impression on his subsequent works. Complex narratives, steady pacing, and an honest examination of the darker aspects of society characterize his novels.

Ellroy’s most celebrated series is the L.A. Quartet, a collection of novels in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s. The sequence initiates with The Black Dahlia, inspired by an unsolved real-life murder case, and continues with three further novels featuring the highly praised L.A. Confidential. Ellroy’s skillful narrative techniques and vibrant, unyielding prose have solidified the L.A. Quartet’s position as a crucial component of the crime fiction genre.

“Some men get the world. Others get ex-hookers and a trip to Arizona.”

James Ellroy, L.A. Confidential
L.A. Confidential
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Ellroy, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 510 Pages - 01/01/2013 (Publication Date) - Grand Central Publishing (Publisher)

7. Sara Paretsky, 1947 –

Sara Paretsky
Photo of Sara Paretsky wearing a black hat

Sara Paretsky, an American writer, is celebrated for her trailblazing contributions to establishing strong female leads in the predominantly male crime fiction sphere. Born in Ames, Iowa, Paretsky has widely recognized for her series centered around private detective V.I. Warshawski, a tenacious and self-reliant woman who never shies away from challenges. Paretsky’s novels are marked by their complex narratives, genuine authenticity, and social critique.

The V.I. Warshawski collection debuted with Indemnity Only and has since expanded to over twenty novels. Throughout the series, Warshawski confronts formidable opponents and tackles intricate cases, frequently spotlighting social injustice concerns. Paretsky’s captivating writing and innovative characterizations have garnered her a loyal fan base.

“I could hear a heavy tread ahead of me and guessed it was my anonymous visitor.”

Sara Paretsky, Indemnity Only
Indemnity Only: A V. I. Warshawski Novel (30th Anniversary Edition) (V.I. Warshawski Novels Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Paretsky, Sara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 323 Pages - 04/29/2010 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

8. Sue Grafton, 1940 – 2017

Sue Grafton
Photo of Sue Grafton speaking at a media event

Sue Grafton was an American author of detective novels best known for her alphabet series featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone. Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Grafton began her writing career as a television screenwriter before turning to novels. Her books are known for their strong, independent female protagonist, clever plotting, and engaging writing style.

The Kinsey Millhone series began with A is for Alibi and continued with 25 more novels, ending with Y is for Yesterday. Sadly, she passed away before she could write a book for Z. Each novel in the series is a stand-alone mystery, with Millhone solving cases that often have personal connections or consequences. Grafton’s distinctive voice and memorable characters have made the Alphabet series a beloved staple of the crime fiction genre.

“Wherever there is sex, we work to create a relationship that’s worthy of it.”

Sue Grafton, A is for Alibi
"A" is for Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Grafton, Sue (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 04/01/2010 (Publication Date) - Holt Paperbacks (Publisher)

9. Elmore Leonard, 1925 – 2013

Elmore Leonard
Photo of Elmore Leonard at the Peabody Awards

Elmore Leonard, a celebrated American writer and screenwriter, gained fame for his distinctive and humorous literary style and memorable and often unconventional characters. Leonard is from New Orleans, Louisiana, and has authored many novels over six decades – many of which were successfully adapted for both film and television.

Among Leonard’s most renowned literary accomplishments is Get Shorty, which chronicles the experiences of a Miami-based loan shark who becomes embroiled in the world of Hollywood filmmaking. The book offers a satirical perspective on the movie industry, showcasing Leonard’s clever dialogue and insight into human nature. Eventually, it was adapted into a film. Leonard’s unparalleled fusion of crime fiction and dark comedic elements has cemented Get Shorty as a timeless classic within its genre. You might also like these authors like Tony Hillerman.

“A man can only be in so many places at once.”

Elmore Leonard, Get Shorty
Get Shorty: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Leonard, Elmore (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 10/13/2009 (Publication Date) - Mariner Books (Publisher)

10. Lawrence Block, 1938 –

Lawrence Block
Photo of Lawrence Block speaking into a microphone

Lawrence Block, a distinguished American crime fiction writer, is celebrated for his extensive array of intriguing characters and captivating narratives. From Buffalo, NY, Block has penned over 100 novels and many short stories, delving into themes such as ethics, compulsions, and the intricate web of human interactions.

One of Block’s most popular series features a character named Matthew Scudder, who’s an unlicensed private detective and former police officer. The series commenced with The Sins of the Fathers and spanned over 15 novels. Scudder’s cases frequently explore New York City’s darker corners, revealing the reader a gritty, atmospheric world. Block’s captivating storytelling and multi-dimensional characters have made the Matthew Scudder series a favorite among crime fiction fans.

“There’s not much to know,” I said. “I used to be a cop.”

Lawrence Block, The Sins of the Fathers
The Sins of the Fathers (Matthew Scudder Mysteries Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Block, Lawrence (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 10/13/2009 (Publication Date) - William Morrow Paperbacks (Publisher)

11. Robert B. Parker, 1932 – 2010

Robert B. Parker
Photo of Robert B. Parker seated as an audience member

Robert B. Parker, an American writer, is best known for his series centered on private investigator Spenser. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, Parker’s writing was inspired by the hard-boiled detective tradition and is marked by its crisp dialogue, swift pacing, and captivating personas.

The Spenser series debuted with The Godwulf Manuscript and continued with over 40 novels. Spenser is a tough, witty, and cultured detective who often finds himself embroiled in cases involving organized crime, political intrigue, and personal vendettas. Parker’s engaging narratives, including the novel Looking for Rachel Wallace, and unique personas have established the Spenser series as a cherished component of the crime literature domain. Check out these authors like Mary Higgins Clark.

“Sometimes the past is best left buried.”

Robert B. Parker, Looking for Rachel Wallace
Looking for Rachel Wallace (The Spenser Series Book 6)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Parker, Robert B. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 219 Pages - 09/22/2010 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

12. Ruth Rendell, 1930 – 2015

Ruth Rendell
Photo of Ruth Rendell with folded arms

Ruth Rendell was a prolific British author renowned for her crime fiction and psychological thrillers. Born in London, Rendell’s writing career spanned five decades, producing numerous novels and short stories. Her work is known for its intricate plotting, astute psychological insight, and exploration of social issues.

One of Rendell’s most acclaimed works is the Inspector Wexford series, beginning with From Doon with Death. The series features Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, a thoughtful, empathetic detective who solves various intriguing mysteries. A fan favorite is A Sight for Sore Eyes. Rendell’s attention to detail and skillful character development contribute to the series’ enduring popularity.

“People’s memories are maybe the fuel they burn to stay alive.”

Ruth Rendell, A Sight for Sore Eyes
A Sight for Sore Eyes: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Rendell, Ruth (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 418 Pages - 09/14/2011 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

Looking for more? Check out our guide with the best Swedish authors!


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