In honor of all the Forgotten Books recommendations on blogs these days, here are two I'd like to add:
BLOOD MARKS by Bill Crider is sleek, sly and shows the influence of Fredric Brown at his best. Set in the Houston of 1991 and partially narrated by the sanctimonious killer himself, the novel features a relentless homicide detective, a possibly sociopathic police department shrink named Romain and a cast of possible victims living at an apartment house. The mystery element works well against Crider's portraits of the residents of the place, believable ordinary people trying to make sense of a situation that unfolds like a slasher movie. The sinewy plot propels us into a startling ending that is made richer by the way Crider handles the stories of the people he's introduced us to. Get yourself a copy real soon.
TEXAS WIND isn't really forgotten, its cult status having kept a small audience praising its wonders for decades. And wonders they are. This book demonstrates how durable the private detective form is. While the set-up is familiar, a missing daughter job as Hammett once began a story of his, the op here, named Cody, gives us a Texas I'd never seen before and a private eye who might be the guy you have coffee with at the donut shop counter a couple days a week. The reality is what makes the dark surpises of the book stay real. A real person is telling you the story. Filled with exciting incident and humane observation, this is one of those books that should be read by everyone who wants to write a mystery novel. This will show you how.