You have just made my day, because the only thing I like talking more than Justified is talking books. I made a list of movies last year, so I’m going to leave that be and go with books this time. (For anyone else: if you’re hankering after more Raylan, here’s the list of Elmore’s Raylan books.)
If it’s the southern lit aspect you’re after, I highly recommend William Gay. He’s one of my favorite writers— maybe even my favorite writer— and his books are set in the hills of East Tennessee. You would recognize the language, eloquent and sharp, and most certainly the people… good and bad, beloved one and all.
Larry Brown is another one, especially his books Fay and Father and Son. If I’ve read Fay once I’ve read it a dozen times, and it kicks my ass and breaks my heart. Dallas Hudgins recently made me fall hard with his book Drive Like Hell. And it’s not the South, but it is the mountains [of Montana]: my fellow Justified fan Steph Post recommended Smith Henderson’s Fourth of July Creek last year and it was every bit as good as she said.
If it’s more of the crime aspect you’re looking for, there’s George V. Higgins, of course, on Elmore’s recommendation. Lou Berney is very Elmore-adjacent in the best way. His books are well-worn in this house and perpetually on my nightstand. For nonfiction, They Say in Harlan County is fantastic. Harry Crews’ A Childhood: The Biography of A Place is fact that’s better than fiction, exploring that wild, troubled, sacred place of the South. Wendell Berry is the Kentucky writer I’ve referenced here often and can’t reference enough.
I could probably update this list about every six months, but I’ll leave it at this for now. Thank you for such a great question, and for such a great compliment! If anybody has their own recommendations, feel free to send them in. (Or, if you’re on Goodreads, hit me up there to talk books!)