Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal about vintage Hardboiled novels. I’ll wait…
Plenty of excellent suggestions for your reading list, but I have issues with the author’s claim that “…the genre used to be a lot more interesting.”
Not to take away from the classics, but I can’t imagine anyone who has read Ray Banks, Megan Abbott, Cathi Unsworth or Frank Bill would say something like that.
Also, I can’t help but feel like the snarky little barb about “a wisecracking private eye who is an icy femme fatale” is directed at me, though clearly no one who’s actually read my novels would refer to them that way. I certainly can’t think of very many other modern books that fit that description. Can you?
Bottom line, tons of formulaic crap got published back then, just like now. And there are a few authors who rise above the sea of crap, just like now.