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A longtime acquaintance of mine happens to be a drug dealer; in some ways our careers have progressed on parallel planes. As I went from writing for the college paper to seeing my byline in the national glossies, he went from being the hardscrabble local guy to the top of a criminal network.
While of course our moral codes aren't in alignment, I do recognize his ability to handle the intricate logistics of running a complicated midsize business, all under the shadow of the law. He argues that what people like him do serves vital functions in our society — allowing access to wealth for those often denied it — and occasionally undermining oppressive laws.
Here are three wonderful novels whose takes on different aspects of crime are valuable to us all.