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Top 10 Manly Contemporary Authors


Not every story has explosions and car chases. That's why they have nudity and espionage.
- Barnes and Ambaum, Unshelved, 09-14-08

Fists and Brains: My Top Ten Manly Authors and Their Protagonists That I Read or Re-Read in 2008*

I've mentioned before that my favorite guilty pleasure is reading mystery and adventure novels in which the protagonist is a manly kind of man. Each of the characters listed below can be a violent fellow when the situation calls for violence and usually takes some degree of abuse himself. He is smart and follows an internal moral code. He is our Walter Mitty-ish alter-ego.

Oh, and his author tells a damn fine story.

I've chose only characters who appear in series. The title listed is a book in the series I felt good enough to re-read, but it's not always the first or most recent book . So, in no particular order...

10. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher (One Shot)

9. Stephen Hunter's Earl and Bob Lee Swagger (Pale Horse Coming)

8. James Lee Burke's Dave Robicheaux (Tin Roof Blowdown)

7. Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch (Trunk Music)

6. Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon (The Confessor)

5. Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt (Inca Gold)

4. Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford (Twelve Mile Limit)

3. John Burdett's Sonchai Jitpleecheep (Bangkok 8)

2. Matin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko (Havana Bay)

1. John D. McDonald's Travis McGee (The Green Ripper)

And I am always looking for recommendations.


* Paul C at Quoteflections "respectfully" began this meme: Life is One Big Top Ten (2008). He writes:

It's an outgrowth of Time's ultimate Top Ten Everything of 2008. I appeal to my readers and anyone else so inclined to write their own Top Ten list for 2008 on a topic of their choice. You are invited to link to my site , use the title Life is One Big Top Ten (2008) to help with a web search, and tag several people to carry the meme forward. This topic has the potential to be interesting and fun as we close out the year.

I purposely chose this topic hoping to tweak Paul's literary sensitivities. He's somewhat more high brow than I am. But then we are probably both guys who'd you'd rather have at your side in a spelling bee than a gun fight. But then I've never met Paul. Could be he is a hit man who only uses his teaching career as a cover.

I'd enjoy reading a Top Ten list from these interesting bloggers who don't live in the U.S. ...

Lee Cofino, Artichoke, Gladys Baya, Ann Krembs, anyone from the NESA Librarians' Group, Susan Funk..

Of course everyone is welcome to play the Top Ten meme.

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Reader Comments (7)

Hey, Doug, don't blow my cover...Thanks for your list. I'm adding several of these books to my Christimas wish list.

December 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPaul C

What a neat idea, Paul and Doug! here's my list of top 10 spirituality books (parables really).

I'm tempted to make a list of my top 10 on writing books.
Take care,

December 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin

My list of authors...


December 14, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMiguel Guhlin

This is a good start to a list. I am a big fan of Hunter, Burke and Cruz Smith. They are all top-notch writers. One I would add to it is Tom Clancy. Jack Ryan was a good hero fitting this mould, but John Clark (especially in Without Remorse) is the best protagonist I've found in this genre. It is too bad Tom Clancy's writing has gone way down in quality over the last few books.

December 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKarl

Try out the Andrew Vachss "Burke" series. I am guessing you would love Burke. I do he is a man with a plan (A,B,C,D,....).

December 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVal

Hi Doug -

Great list of series! You might also enjoy Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar and Robert Crais's Elvis Cole series. Those are two of the top of my fav list.


December 15, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Harvey

Hi Miguel,

Thanks for playing!


Hi Karl,

I loved Without Remorse as well. Is Clark the main character in any of Clancy’s other books? I know he appears in some.



Hi Val,

I've read some Vachss's books where the detective seems to investigate a lot of child abuse/child abduction cases. I couldn't handle them! But I'll check out Burke.



Thanks, Carl. I’ve read some Elvis Cole (and his sidekick) and have enjoyed them, but I need to check out Bolitar. Appreciate the recommendations.


PS. I live Richard Stark's Parker too. But most of the books are out of print, not in the local library system, or in any of the used bookstores! - Doug

December 16, 2008 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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