10 Best Evan Hunter Books For Fans Of Thrillers

Evan Hunter is Known as one of the best American crime thriller authors. Here are the best Evan Hunter books you can read.

Born Salvatore Albert Lombino, Evan Hunter has written under many pseudonyms, including Ed McBain and Hunt Collins. While he’s best known for his 87th Precinct series, Hunter has written many other stories that have been met with wide critical acclaim. While he’s known as one of the best crime thriller authors in American history, Hunter has also written short stories and science fiction novels that keep fans on the edge of their seats.

Whether searching for more information on how to write a thriller or looking for your next favorite science fiction novel, you’re likely to find something by Evan Hunter that’s right up your alley. Here, we’ll explore the twelve best books by the author.

1. The Blackboard Jungle

Published in 1954, The Blackboard Jungle tells the story of Richard Dadier, a military veteran and teacher at a tough vocational school in the Bronx. This story follows life in a New York slum school, where young and mischievous teens develop crude ways, and teachers struggle to reign in their misbehavior. This is a story of a battle between teachers and students, where the theme is the struggle to live a decent life.

“Women, he had reflected had no such problem. Creation had been given to them as a gift and a woman was self-sufficient within her own creative shell. A man needed more which perhaps was one reason why a woman could never understand a man’s concern for the job he had to do.”

Evan Hunter
The Blackboard Jungle: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hunter, Evan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 332 Pages - 06/13/2017 (Publication Date) - Open Road Media (Publisher)

2. Cop Hater

Published in 1956, Cop Hater is the first book in Hunter’s famed 87th Precinct series. The series is based in a world similar to New York City’s and follows officers through the ups and downs of big-city police life. This story is a dark tale following Steve Carella, a city cop, who is faced with witnessing the death of a fellow detective. In this thrilling story, Steve must face his trauma, help solve the case and bring justice to his fellow cop.

“We can’t let a cop be killed because a cop is a symbol of law and order.”

Evan Hunter
Cop Hater (87th Precinct Book 1)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • McBain, Ed (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 226 Pages - 05/08/2012 (Publication Date) - Thomas & Mercer (Publisher)

3. Strangers When We Meet

This 1958 novel tells the tale of Larry Cole, a man in a happy marriage who decides to cheat on his wife with a married woman. While devoted to his family, he finds his mistress–Margaret– irresistible. The two must decide whether being together is worth changing their lives for good.

“Gray October and an early morning chill in the house and a sullen sky pressing against the window panes, the sound of the children in the kitchen, Chris heckling with David, hounding the younger boy over the fact that he wet his bed again the night before. Another day.”

Evan Hunter
Sale
Strangers When We Meet: A Novel
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Evan Hunter (Author) - Brittany Wilkerson, Nicholas Tecosky (Narrators)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 03/10/2020 (Publication Date) - Audible Studios (Publisher)

4. Criminal Conversation

Another addition to the 87th Precinct series, Criminal Conversation was published in 1994 and delivers a tale of drug dealing, New York crime families, and espionage–all during the holiday season. This story follows Michael Welles, an assistant district attorney with a burning hatred for organized crime. In this thrilling tale, Michael has a chance to bring down the mob, but at the risk of endangering his loved ones. This story is not for the faint-hearted, with detective drama and immense highs and lows.

“Georgie’s grandfather had been born in Italy, and lived in America for five years before he got his citizenship papers, at which time he could rightfully be called an Italian-American. In Georgie’s eyes, this was the only time the hyphenate could be used properly. His parents had been born here of Italian-American parents, but this did not make them similarly Italian-Americans, it made them simply Americans.”

Evan Hunter
Criminal Conversation
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • McBain, Ed (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 570 Pages - 10/25/2016 (Publication Date) - MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (Publisher)

5. Last Summer

Published in 1968, Last summer follows the tale of three teenagers who unexpectedly find themselves wrapped in an incident of violence. The trio must decide how to move forward with a horrible secret. Over the summer, a trio creates an illicit teenage paradise. . Peer pressure encourages shy Sandy to do whatever she is asked, even if that means taking an innocent life. Themes of alcohol, sex, and misbehavior turn this teenage drama into a thrilling tale with mystery and intrigue.

“I’m a very bad dancer, but I asked Sandy to dance anyway, and it didn’t bother me at all that I wasn’t as good as some of the other kids on the floor. We got into a conversation about the gull, and we were so very involved in it, so totally involved in the blinding glare that was only ourselves, that there just didn’t seem to be anyone else in the room.”

Evan Hunter
Last Summer: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hunter, Evan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 181 Pages - 06/13/2017 (Publication Date) - Open Road Media (Publisher)

6. Streets of Gold

This 1974 novel follows the story of an Italian citizen who comes to the United States in search of a happier life. Following the highs and lows of immigration, readers become attached to the characters in the story. The novel’s protagonist–Ignazio Di Palermo–is blind, beautiful, and excited to learn more about all America offers.

“They talked now not of Canosa, the nearest town of any size, nor of Barletta on the coast, nor even of the city of Naples, which was the largest city they had ever seen and certainly the most splendid. They talked of America. They talked of New York.”

Evan Hunter
Streets of Gold
  • Novel by Evan Hunter from 1974
  • It is about to typical life of new American immigrants in a large city
  • This book tells the story of 1 Italian immigrant family
  • Hardcover Book
  • Evan Hunter (Author)

7. Come Winter

Like Last Summer, 1973’s Come Winter follows the story of the same three teens who went through a time of horrific violence. Coming together years later, the three go on a ski vacation together and are met with a predicament similar to the first time they met. Sandy, David, and Peter are haunted by a past crime that they committed a horrific crime. This story follows a friendship bonded in blood and how they are set on a path toward destruction.

“He looked freshly shaved and talced, resplendent in black and white, and he made me feel like a shabby bum, even though I was wearing imported Italian pants from Bloomingdale’s and a crew-neck sweater that had cost forty dollars of my father’s hard-earned loot. Come to think of it, I always felt shabby in David’s presence.”

Evan Hunter
Come Winter: A Novel
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hunter, Evan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 193 Pages - 06/06/2017 (Publication Date) - Open Road Media (Publisher)

8. Privileged Conversation

Hunter’s 1996 novel follows a therapist named David who encounters a young Broadway dancer named Kate. The two begin a passionate affair–and David must decide just what he’s willing to risk. With love, lust, and mystery themes, this novel is a thrilling tale for fans of romance and drama.

“She is an extravagantly beautiful woman, and he is stunned each time he discovers this anew. David is the only one in the family who doesn’t have blue eyes…David calls the kids the Blue-Eyed Monsters. They burst into giggles whenever he quavers the words and backs away from them in mock fright; it is easy to delight daughters of their age.”

Evan Hunter
Privileged Conversation
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • McBain, Ed (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 556 Pages - 10/25/2016 (Publication Date) - MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (Publisher)

9. Candyland

2001’s Candyland follows Benjaman Thrope, an architect obsessed with finding a female companion–although he has a wife at home. Thrope finds himself mixed up as a suspect in a murder, and a detailed police investigation puts him closer and closer to the center of the crime.

“He has known a great many women in his lifetime, you see. He won’t even try counting them all. He started to do that once, and first found himself getting excited by the various memories, and next feeling guilty as hell when he realized the magnitude of his transgressions–well, perhaps that’s too harsh a word, he thinks. No one’s committing any crimes here.”

Evan Hunter
Candyland
  • Audible Audiobook
  • Evan Hunter (Author) - Mark Blum, Linda Emond (Narrators)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 01/02/2001 (Publication Date) - Simon & Schuster Audio (Publisher)

10. Rocket to Luna

This 1953 science fiction novel follows the story of Richard Marsten, a young astronaut who is forced to prove his worth to his lunar-bound crew. In a surprise turn of events, neither the crew nor authorities are prepared for the last-minute switch in the ship’s complement, which upsets carefully planned schedules. This story follows the ups and downs of unplanned changes in space discovery. Teenage Ted Baker has to navigate this unprecedented journey with the world watching.
 

“It was worse than he ever imagined it could be. Far worse. At first he wanted to scream. He tried to open his mouth, but his jaw muscles didn’t seem to be working. He wondered about this, and he tried to lift his hand to touch his jaw, but something was holding his arm down tight against the foam-rubber cushion. And then the force of acceleration got to work in earnest.”

Evan Hunter
Rocket to Luna (Winston Science Fiction Book 18)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Hunter, Evan (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 156 Pages - 01/07/2014 (Publication Date) - Thunderchild Publishing (Publisher)

FAQs About The Best Evan Hunter Books

Why did Evan Hunter change his name?

Originally born Salvatore Albert Lombino, an editor told the author that he would sell more books if he wrote under the name Evan Hunter. So he legally changed his name in 1952 and wrote under pen names Ezra Hannon, Richard Marsten, Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, and Ed McBain.

How many 87th Precinct novels are there?

There are 55 87th Precinct novels. Hunter wrote the collection under the pen name Ed McBain. Many works have been adapted into TV shows and movies, although the adaptations are often only loosely based on Hunter’s novels.

What is the name of Evan Hunter’s most famous book?

According to many, Hunter is most well-known for his 87th Precinct novels, including titles such as Cop Hater, The Con Man, Killer’s Choice, Killer’s Payoff, Lady Killer, and The Heckler.

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of the best Clive Cusser books!

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