Throughout the history of popular fiction, the New York Times Book Review and the literati have done their best to focus public attention on writers of the Left but readers have confounded them by tending to choose heroes with a more traditional, pro-American outlook and a decidedly un-nuanced view of good guys and bad guys.
So while Fletcher Knebel was cranking out critically acclaimed hardcover political thrillers like Seven Days in May from the Left, he and his ilk were being vastly outsold by paperback writers like Donald Hamilton, Mikey Spillane, Edward S. Aarons and other pulp paperback writers who featured he-man heroes.
In a more modern era, Tom Clancy, Dean Koontz and Vince Flynn have all dominated the bestseller list, leaving series like Sara Paretsky’s ultra-feminist private eye, and James Lee Burke’s (excellently written but decidedly left leaning) series in the dust.
So, here, in somewhat chronological order, are 18 of the best heroes to star in their own series of mysteries, thrillers, and espionage novels. Some are not overtly political, but none are politically correct—still others deserve mention because they swam upstream against the prevailing literary trend of the time.
Note: Such stellar authors who definitely lean to the right as Dean Koontz, Andrew Klavan, Ralph Peters, and Joseph Wambaugh, are not included because they primarily write stand alone novels, and their work is not primarily identified with a dominant hero.