What are the crime, mystery, and thriller novels that every fan of this genre should be sure to read before he or she dies? That's the question Britain's Daily Telegraph asked a couple of weeks back, but its answers were ... well, let's be generous and call them unspectacular.

Hoping to do a better job, The Rap Sheet is putting together its own list of must-reads -- but we need your help. Which books and authors do you think should be included? We won’t limit our list falsely to 50 books and authors, as the Telegraph did, but will instead feature as many names as seems appropriate. And we'll publish the results sometime in the near future.

The floor is now open to suggestions, folks.

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I'd suggest THE GUARDS. It has all of the elements I mentioned, and is the start of his Jack Taylor series. Bruen also has several stand-alones, his Inspector Brant series, and the collaborations he's done with Jason Starr for Hardcase Crime (BUST & SLIDE).

While I love his writing pretty much across the board, the Jack Taylor books are my faves. THE GUARDS is one of the few contemporary novels that completely blew the top off my head (in a good way).
I have liked all the Jack Taylor novels equally well so far.
I too am fascinated that so far not everybody is rushing to post his or her own list. The topic was "mystery, crime, and thriller," so here are some of mine from the mystery end of the spectrum, starting on the British side:
Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night, Murder Must Advertise, The Nine Tailors, and Busman's Honeymoon
Margery Allingham: The Tiger in the Smoke
Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar, Miss Pym Disposes, The Franchise Affair
Ngaio Marsh: Death in a White Tie, A Surfeit of Lampreys (can't remember the American title), A Clutch of Constables
Patricia Moyes: Murder Fantastical
Peter Dickinson: The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest, Sleep and His Brother
Reginald Hill: Underworld, Child's Play, On Beulah Height
Janet Neel: Death's Bright Angel
PD James: An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
In the US, I'd rather list whole series--these have all gotten better and better
Sara Paretsky: V.I. Warshawski
Marcia Muller: Sharon McCone
Nevada Barr: Anna Pigeon
Dana Stabenow: Kate Shugak
Julie Smith: Skip Langdon
Laura Lippman: Tess Monaghan
Margaret Maron: Judge Deborah Knott
All of the above are brilliantly character-driven, beautifully written and plotted; most have themes that address larger issues; none is trivial.
Reginald Hill, yes.
Too many to list, but since I am an old gal, how about some Erle Stanley Gardner novels. I am sitting here looking at The Case of the Velvet Claws (picked up at my local library's sale shelf), plus James Lee Burke, Lisa Scottotline, Lee Child, Ed McBain, John le Carre', Robert B. Parker and many more. If I mention authors that are members of CrimeSpace, I am sure to offend at least one. Since I am only a reader/librarian who has fun writing letters to newspaper editors and with no books published or planned, I'll leave my list unfinished. Oh, but I will put a plug in for the YA set: Nancy Drew --not great shakes as literature, but the series has stood the test of time with teens.
You have a copy of "The Case of the Velvet Claws"!!!! (Drool...) Any chance we could start a lending library so I could borrow that from you?

I have been looking for that classic for ages. Congratulations on your good taste.
Hillerman is good, but more so the early ones. Lee Child: One Shot has a great beginning, but generally the books are just good reads (and occasionally unbelievable). Fir Michael Connelly, only THE LINCOLN LAWYER qualifies for me.

How about Van De Wetering?
Sandra's right - taste is everything. But so is wideness of choice and surely influence has got to come in to it

Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - really anything by them
Peter Corris - got Australian Crime fiction kicking along again
Reginald Hill - On Beulah Heights
Charlotte Jay - Beat Not the Bones
Points and Lines by Seicho Matsumoto
Henning Mankell - Faceless Killers (let's look at the refugee situation for what it is)

But then these sorts of lists never work well for me - if somebody wants to do a list of 50 considered / thought provoking novels that just "worked" then count me in.
I'm delighted to see someone mention Reginald Hill.

And I agree - the trouble with the list is in the phrasing. If I were to seriously read the 50 books to read before you die, I wouldn't read anything else for a couple of years as well, leaving me unaware of the current trends and potential new classics emerging.

I'll have to check out those Japanese writers John suggested at some point though.
Those Japanese writers are on my to be tracked down list as well - I've tracked down a few Japanese writers recently and they have been really interesting.
Sjowall & Wahloo are great, and so is most of Mankell's work.
Eric Ambler: The Mask of Dimitrios
Boileau and Narcejac: la Vie en miettes - don´t know the english title,
Ken Bruen: The Guard (because it started the series)
John Le Carre: Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy (the whole trio)
John Le Carre: The Spy Who Come in from the Cold (groundbreaking)
Agatha Christie. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Thomas H. Cook: Heartbreak Hill
James Ellroy: LA Confidential (the whole quartet)
Alan Furst: Kingdom of Shadows (spy fictions equivalent to red burgundy)
Chester Himes. If He Hollers Let Him Go
Iceberg Slim: Trick Baby
Jean-Claude Izzo: Total Kheops - don't know the english title
Joe R. Landsdale: The Bottoms
Dennis Lehane: Mystic River (made a special mode/subsubgenre popular)
Ross MacDonald: The Galton Case
Val Mcdermid: A Place of Execution
Walter Mosley: Black Betty (most books of the series are good, but I prefer the older ones)
T. Jefferson Parker: California Girl (far better than mystic river)
George P. Pelecanos: Drama City
Nancy Pickard: The Virgin of Small Plains
Derek Raymond: I was Donna Suarez
Martin Cruz Smith: Gorky Park
Andrew Vacchs: Shella
Don Winslow: The Power of the Dog

Such a list should include Ian Rankin, Fred Vargas and Henning Mankel (who my eye is garrulous) and, obviously, Dashiell Hammett (Red Harvest), James M. Cain (The Postman), Jim Thomson, Raymond Chandler, and Rex Stout.


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