10 crime writers to read while under house arrest

Maria L. La Ganga, left, talks with Steph Cha at L.A. Times Book Club's virtual event. Cha's basset hound, Milo, chimed in.
Reporter Maria L. La Ganga, left, talks with Steph Cha during the L.A. Times Book Club’s virtual event. Cha’s basset hound, Milo, chimed in.
(Samantha Melbourneweaver/ The Times)

During this week’s Los Angeles Times Book Club’s first-ever virtual meetup, authors Steph Cha and Joe Ide talked about their fictional heroes and noir stories.

They also discussed other crime writers and the books they admire — and wish they had written themselves. Watch the book club talk on YouTube or Facebook.

Times readers followed up and asked for a recap of the authors’ picks. So here’s a rundown of their recommendations to read while sheltering at home:


John Le Carré, the prolific author of espionage stories, including “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.” “It’s one of the few books I re-read over and over because of Le Carré’s writing,” Ide says.

Gabriel Tallent, author of “My Absolute Darling.” Ide calls it “one of the scariest books I’ve ever read. That’s a book that keeps me up at night.”

Ivy Pachoda, author of “Wonder Valley.” Ide calls it “a classic L.A. novel.” Cha also recommends Pachoda’s next novel, “These Women,” which will be released in May. “It’s even more of an L.A. novel than ‘Wonder Valley,’” she says. “It takes place up and down Western Avenue. Its loosely based on the Grim Sleeper case.”

Steph Cha doesn’t expect much in the way of good crime fiction to spring from the coronavirus outbreak.

March 30, 2020

Sara Gran, author of The Claire DeWitt mystery series. Cha calls the books “existential and strange” and says she wished she had written them.


Rachel Howzell Hall and Naomi Hirahara. Says Cha: “They write these amazing characters who live and work in contemporary Los Angeles. And they take you places you don’t typically see in other books.” Hall wrote the Lou Norton series. Hirahara is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mysteries.

Michael Connelly, author of the bestselling Harry Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer series. Cha calls Connelly a “fantastic writer” who creates police procedural novels that are “unique, nuanced and complicated.” Connelly joined the L.A. Times Book Club in October.

In a quarantine diary, “Your House Will Pay” author Steph Cha reads Ivy Pochoda , watches “Iron Man 2” and “Fleabag,” and works a “Starry Night” puzzle.

March 25, 2020

J. Todd Scott, author of “The Far Empty.” Ide recomends this 2016 mystery written by a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who moonlights as a novelist.

Rachel Kushner, author of “The Mars Room.” Ide likes this 2018 novel, which roves from a San Francisco strip club to a women’s prison in California’s Central Valley.

Katherine V. Forrest, author of “Curious Wine” and other books. Times reporter Maria L. LaGanga, who interviewed Cha and Ide on Monday night, suggested novels by Forrest whose heroine, Kate Delafield, is a lesbian detective in the LAPD.

Sign up for the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter for information about future events and book news.