The list author says: "Having recently published my first ("Blood & Ashes - The Debut Oscar Jade Thriller!), I've decided to list my favorite books in this genre, which in my world ranges from hardboiled P.I. to escapist spy/espionage classics, in order to hopefully give some insight as to where I was coming from when I decided to start writing about a fellow named Oscar Jade. I hope you find it interesting. Honorable mention goes to Donald Hamilton's dynamic Matt Helm series, which sadly is unavailable on Amazon...one of the greatest spy series ever!"
"A masterpiece. Economy of prose, crisply authentic dialogue, and incredibly remote third-person perspective distinguish this 1929 classic from every other hard-boiled private eye novel ever written. Dashiell Hammett is THE MAN."
"Another groundbreaking classic, this one from 1939. Raymond Chandler could turn a phrase as well as anyone who ever sat in front of a typewriter. His lyrical use of simile and metaphor---and the melancholy that punctuates his prose---is beyond peerless. Philip Marlowe is the prototypical 'first-person' private eye protagonist."
"Mickey Spillane took the template for characters that had come before (Hammett's Sam Spade, Chandler's Philip Marlowe) and unashamedly shot it full of steroids and booze to create Mike Hammer, the baddest tough guy who ever carried a P.I. ticket and a Colt .45 semiauto. Sex, violence, and sex. Buckle your seatbelt, because Spillane makes no apologies!"
"John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee---retrieval artist and philosopher from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida---is one of the most interesting characters ever created. Reading MacDonald's prose is like watching Eric Clapton play the guitar. "Deep Blue Good-by" is the first of the series, and they only get better."
"Another P.I. from Los Angeles of the past, Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer walks the same streets as Philip Marlowe (albeit a few years later), but has a style all his own. You can't go wrong with any of his books."
"The debut of a certain British Secret Service Agent 007, from 1953. One of the great opening lines in all of popular fiction: "The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning." The next paragraph opens with the line: "James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired." If you think you know Bond just from the movies, you don't know Bond. Read Fleming's books."
"I love to watch Trevanian work. His Jonathan Hemlock---college professor, art collector and part-time assassin---really put some spice into my youth. Clint Eastwood's film adaptation is worthy...but, as ever, the book is better."
"The second Philip Marlowe novel. Great stuff. It's no wonder Chandler and Fleming became friends; surely Fleming admired the way his American counterpart could paint pictures with words, and weave apparently unrelated plot lines into a unified tapestry. This one cements Chandler as a master of the genre."
"Arguably Fleming's best Bond novel---certainly the one which, by making JFK's 'favorite books' list one year, catapulted Fleming and his character into superstar status---this one is fantastic. Check out the Chapter entitled "Ten Pints of Blood"..."