Jim Fusilli, a Wall Street Journal rock and pop music critic, writes an excellent neo-noir series about a man named Terry Orr, whose life is upended when his wife and son are murdered. Orr obtains his private eye license in order to track down their killer, but he takes other cases, too. In contrast to the violence of this series is the loving relationship Orr has with his daughter Bella. Fusilli captures the music and art scene of modern Manhattan extremely well. Vivid writing, good characterization and plotting. Like Charyn's books, these should be read in order. The debut is Closing Time.
Parker is a coldly logical master thief working in New York City in a dark series by Donald E. Westlake writing as Richard Stark. It's difficult to create a violent, amoral character a reader would dread meeting and yet make that reader root for him; however, Stark manages this very well. The plotting is absolutely terrific. The best way to read these is the first three (The Hunter, later filmed as Point Blank with Lee Marvin; The Man with the Getaway Face; and The Outfit), and then you can skip around. (Be sure to check Stop, You're Killing Me! because some of the Parker books were also published under other titles.) Butcher's Moon, published in 1974, serves as somewhat of a finale in that characters from the preceding 15 books team up with the relentless Parker to retrieve heist money he lost in Slayground. Plots from previous books are mentioned, so be aware you'll read some spoilers. Don't miss Butcher's Moon, though, because it's a great read. Parker returns in 1997's Comeback, another excellent book. If you're only familiar with Westlake's comic caper series featuring Dortmunder, an inept burglar, you'll recognize this writer's amazing versatility after reading his Parker books.
Chester Himes (1909-1984) was imprisoned for armed robbery, and while in the joint he read Dashiell Hammett. In the 1950s, he moved to Paris, where he was appreciated more than he was in the United States. Himes wrote a stunningly original, dramatic, and violent series starring Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson, two ornery black NYPD detectives in Harlem. The books are full of gallows humor and warmth. Harlem leaps from the pages. Start with the 1958 French Grand Prix de Littérature Policère-winning A Rage in Harlem (originally published as For Love of Imabelle), in which a naive man named Jackson becomes involved with con men and counterfeiting. Some others: The Real Cool Killers (Coffin Ed's daughter steps into this supposedly open-and-shut case), All Shot Up (a heist involving a furious car chase in a storm and crooks dressed as cops), The Big Gold Dream (Alberta Wright dies at a revival meeting, and Coffin Ed and Grave Digger join the scramble to find her money), and Cotton Comes to Harlem (a scam involving a bogus preacher and a back-to-Africa movement demands investigation; the 1965 book was later made into a movie). Be warned, these books are not a sedate walk with a butler to the conservatory where you trip over a well-mannered corpse, but a wild and crazy ride with two hard-nosed cops through the streets and back alleys of Harlem.
The books above are some suggestions for obliterating end-of-summer drowsiness and preparing you for the specific rigors of fall: doing homework, raking leaves, watching football, or making a Halloween costume. Then, too, lolling on the sofa, reading about sleuths pounding NYC sidewalks while buses belch and taxis squeal around corners, is very satisfying. One can't leap immediately from summer relaxation into fall's tend-to-business mode, you know.
I'm sure you have some ideas about gritty books set in New York (Mickey Spillane, anyone?), and I'd love to hear them. At some other time, I'll talk about noir or Ed McBain's superb 87th Precinct books set in fictional Isola, New York, but right now I need another cold one.