Top 10 Noir Novels "L.A. Noire" Should've Used
10. "A Game For the Living" by Patricia Highsmith
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Highsmith wrote nothing but awesome thrillers: you might know her better as the author of "Strangers on a Train" or "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Unlike a lot of noir authors, she was dense and literary...but she was also intense, like in this novel about a devout Catholic and an atheist discovering that the woman they were both sleeping with has been brutally murdered...and each think the other did it.
Why It's Perfect: L.A. Noire loves making you choose between suspects, especially with murder cases. Think "The Golden Butterfly" or "The Gas Man." It also would have let them touch on political concerns in the late '40s, which was when atheism was really gaining traction in the US. Remember, this is a game where your first major case deals with anti-Semitism...this is right up Team Bondi's alley. About the only political problem they didn't touch on was immigrant rights, and we're assuming that's because they're saving that for the sequel or something.
9. "Dark Passage" by David Goodis
Goodis, like any great noir author, inspired a lot of movies: he wrote the book that Francois Truffant based his first movie on, "Down There"...and also wrote this novel, which inspired "The Fugitive."
Why It's Perfect: L.A. Noire is actually all about ambiguity, and this story has it up the wazoo: a man convicted of murdering his wife escapes from prison, changes his face, and hides with a friend...but the spiteful, evil witness who got him jailed keeps showing up. You could find him out and decide whether he's really guilty. And then charge him even if he's not guilty. Hey! Spin-off!
8. "The Postman Always Rings Twice" by James M. Cain
James M. Cain is the classic noir writer who also wrote "Mildred Pierce" and "Double Indemnity," a movie that L.A. Noire loves so much, it actually cribs a few shots for your visits to California Fire and Life.
Why It's Perfect: It's the classic story of love, corpses, and double-crosses. Way too often, Cole Phelps comes in after the fact, but this time around, he can actually find the corpse before it's disposed of. Just as long as it doesn't trigger yet another scripted run across rooftops or something.
7. "The Black Angel" by Cornell Woolrich
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Cornell Woolrich pretty much created noir singlehandedly: his stories and novels have more adaptations than any other crime writer, partially because Alfred Hitchcock loved adapting his stuff for television. But of all his stories, this one of a wife getting revenge on the men who ruined her husband is ideal.
Why It's Perfect: First off, it's got that great ambiguity: you've got four possible suspects, all with good motives, and the wife, who is...not really all there, to put it mildly. Oh, and the guy might actually be guilty. Also, there are plenty of clues in the novel itself: it's all about hunting down suspects. And a competing detective might be useful as a time limit, since it's pretty hard to figure out this game really does have actual time limits (seriously, you can actually lose cases if you take too long to get to locations).
6. "In a Lonely Place" by Dorothy B. Hughes
Source: Columbia Pictures/Wikipedia
Hughes was pretty rare in noir fiction: a woman who was not only openly female at a time when being a female writer meant writing recipes, but also one who was highly successful and had pretty much everything she wrote also come to the screen...especially this classic.
Why It's Perfect: If you've played the Homicide desk, let's face it: the overarching story of the desk is pretty frickin' weak. If you know mysteries at all, you've got the climax of the arc nailed by the second case. Way more compelling is Dix Steele, who volunteers to help out with a serial killer case only for...well...we won't spoil it, but let's say they could really amp up the hints of corruption in the LAPD and leave it at that. You know, beyond the hints they drop heavily.