Could I please get some recommendations on some good caper novels to read? I'd prefer a mix of all-time classics and new ones.

My WIP is a strange amalgam of the caper, the police procedural, and the legal thriller, and I'm not as familiar with the caper as I am with the other subgenres and plan to do some background reading.


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Oh, me too! I so want to write a caper. I have to admit, I haven't read one but I've seen plenty on the big screen.
How about the book "Ocean's 11?"
Or the movie The Italian Job. I am not sure if there is a book on it, but it was a '69 movie w/Michael Caine and remade last year, I believe, with Mark Wahlberg.
And finally, The Usual Suspects. A caper that they have to pull off, but then...

And for those who have not seen the movie, that is all I will say.
The Dortmunder books by Donald Westlake are pretty good caper books. He also wrote a standalone "Kahawa", about smuggling a train full of coffee beans out of Uganda (under Idi Amin), that's one of my favorites.
Oooooh boy. I love capers. Bearing in mind that I love bizarre humour, most of my recommendations are for humourous ones:
Westlake - several but my favourite is The HOT ROCK
BIG TROUBLE - Dave Barry (a sort of Reservoir Toads)
FOOL'S PARADISE - Steve Brewer - a very funny bank robbery caper
THE LIGHT OF DAY - Eric Ambler (which was made into the film Topkapi)
MOIST - Mark Haskell Smith - tattooed arms without bodies, a masturbation coach, assorted mobsters, sex, drugs...
THE WHEELMAN - Duane Swierczynski
MODESTY BLAISE - Peter O'Donnell
32 CADILLACS - Joe Gores
Some of THE SAINT books by Leslie Charteris
I'll second THE WHEELMAN. Best caper I've read in ages and ages.
I was going to say Modesty Blaise, but Donna beat me to it. I would also suggest Christopher Brookmyer as well.
You can't do without the book that coined the term "caper" to refer to stories like this: THE BIG CAPER by Lionel White.

From the back cover of the 1955 first edition: "The wheels were beginning to turn. From all parts of the country quiet, tough men slipped into the small southern coastal town and took up the final vigil. There was the arsonist, the safe blower, the boy-faced killer -- there was a regiment of crack, lawless men waiting out the minutes until Saturday night -- the night the town would explode into violence. For in the center of town sat the bank -- a citadel of twelve million dollars, impregnable as Gibraltar, safe as a church. Safe -- until precisely ten-fifteen on Saturday night. Until the wheels began to pick up momentum, and suddenly a fire lit the sky, and the power went off all over town and under way went the king-sized knockover, the grand slam, the big caper..."

It's not the best caper novel ever written -- but you've got to know your roots.

While you're at it, you could read some other White (he specialized in this sort of book): CLEAN BREAK, which became the Kubrick movie "The Killing," and STEAL BIG come to mind.

Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime
I really like The Asphalt Jungle, by W.R. Burnett, which was made into the great film noir. I think the book is a little hard to find, though. I've got it as part of a trilogy.
Though I haven't read it in years, the book that came to mind first was Paul Gallico's The Zoo Gang. A: bunch of guys with animal nicknames pull off a heist on the French Riviera, if I recall correctly.

Perhaps you could post your definition of a "caper" novel here-- I'd be interested to see what you & others think it involves.
Well my uneducated definition of a caper involves a team being formed to plan an elaborate, near impossible crime, then the wheels begin to fall off during execution, leaving the reader to wonder if the plan will succeed.


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