Life in Books: George Pelecanos

My Five Most Important Crime Novels

1. " The Long Goodbye " by Raymond Chandler. A melancholic ode to loss and the passage of time.

2. " The Burglar " by David Goodis. Hypnotic prose and a shocking ending. Call it pulp if you have the need to. It's disturbing art.

3. "The Last Good Kiss" by James Crumley. The post-Vietnam stunner that reinvigorated the genre and jacked up a generation of future crime novelists.

4. "Swag" by Elmore Leonard. Down-and-dirty, this one smokes front to back, and the voice is one of a kind.

5. "Clockers" by Richard Price. My generation's "Grapes of Wrath."

A CLASSIC YOU'VE REVISITED WITH DISAPPOINTMENT: "The Godfather" by Mario Puzo. Except for the page that features Sonny and the bridesmaid. That page never disappoints.

A BOOK YOU HOPE PARENTS READ TO THIER KIDS: "True Grit" by Charles Portis. A great adult novel with a strong, teenage female protagonist.