In a 2013 piece for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik observed that Florida crime fiction “may have supplanted the L.A.-noir tradition as a paperback mirror of American manners”—a mirror driven by, as author Dave Barry put it, a bunch of “South Florida wackos.” Our lower peninsula, stretching all the way down to the freewheeling Keys, has proved fascinating to read-ers across the country and beyond ever since John D. MacDonald began writing series thrillers here in 1964. Here’s a look at four of the best writers currently carry-ing the South Florida crime-mystery torch.
Her prologue: Sharp spent nearly two decades as a Florida-based news reporter for USA Today, covering the police beat, environ-mental issues, and the occasional interview with a zombie (back when director George Romero shot “Day of the Dead” on Sanibel Island). It all changed shortly after 9-11. “I turned 50 and just realized that almost everything I was doing was sad news,” recalls Sharp, who lives in Fort Lauderdale. “I found that I was doing profiles of the wounded and the casualties in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a lot of stuff related to terrorism. It was kind of unrelentingly depressing. … I always loved to read mysteries and particularly liked humorous mysteries, so I thought, why not give it a shot?”