Top 10 Noir Novels "L.A. Noire" Should've Used
5. "The Big Bounce" by Elmore Leonard
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Elmore Leonard is a beloved writer, mostly because he's awesome. Okay, so he's responsible for "Get Shorty," but "Jackie Brown" (Tarantino is a big fan) and "Justified" more than make up for it.
Why It's Perfect: It's got a former criminal, a psychotic maneater, a $50,000 payroll robbery, and dozens of double-crosses. Also a character who would come on to Phelps in a meaningful way, and frankly, we're a little surprised the guy doesn't get hit on more often. Don't these people watch Mad Men?
4. "The Outfit" by Richard Stark
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Richard Stark is the pseudonym of Donald Westlake, one of the most beloved crime writers in American history. Stark is the kind of total badass who steals from the mob just to tell them they annoyed him.
Why It's Perfect: L.A. Noire actually features two real-life mobsters as a part of the main story: Mickey Cohen and Johnny Stompanato (and before you ask, yes, Stompanato's johnson really was that legendary...and so was his murder at the hands of Lana Turner's daughter...and getting his ass kicked by none other than Sean freaking Connery). But one thing it lacks is a criminal that's a real challenge to Phelps: while they probably can't use Richard Stark for that, they could use a stand-in. Maybe Nico's ancestor would like to show up and show Phelps how to drive.
3. "A Touch of Death" by Charles Williams
Williams is one of the great unappreciated noir writers...a million-selling writer beloved by crime writers who mostly wrote paperbacks for the great crime fiction house Gold Medal. To find most of his books today, you need to be Cole Phelps: a lot of his stuff is out of print, but worth hunting down.
Why It's Perfect: One thing L.A. Noire never does, and should, is find a patsy who's been framed and break the frame. And this one's ideal because you'd have to do it not once, but twice, since it's a book about a former football star being set up by two different women. Kind of like the song "Gold Digger," but with less money and more violence.
2. "Cotton Comes to Harlem" by Chester Himes
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Okay, we admit it: Himes' stories largely take place in New York City...but L.A. Noire needs a caper, and this entry in the Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones mysteries is a good one.
Why It's Perfect: Essentially, it's a heist. L.A. Noire loves chasing people around the city...so why not have a case where you figure out where the money is hidden, and chase it around the city? Also helpful is the fact that a lot of people are after this cotton bale, and Himes uses the story to comment on race relations. Because, let's face it, L.A. Noire has, what, five black guys in it?
1. After Dark, My Sweet" by Jim Thompson
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Jim Thompson might just be the patron saint of L.A. Noire; a lot of his books were based on actual crimes perpetrated in L.A., just like the game. But only one of his novels makes an ideal case for the game...and it's not a murder.
Why It's Perfect: One of the problems with L.A. Noire is that the cases are all pretty much murders, but Los Angeles has had plenty of other crimes...like kidnappings. Why doesn't Cole Phelps hunt down a kidnapper or two? Especially if the kidnapper is an escaped mental patient being manipulated by a femme fatale and a criminal? You've got detecting, car chases, and shootouts...probably the best mix of action you can get in this game. Oh, and also the bleakness of the protagonist being a man unable to distinguish between right and wrong and tortured by it...but that's only if you decide NOT to shoot him.