I'm going with Derek Raymond's factory series. I only recently discovered these books, and they're simply amazing. Very grim stuff, kind of a meditation on death and dying, but the writing just sparkles, really remarkable. Robin Cook/Derek Raymond was clearly a fan of Raymond Chandler--you can tell from his dialogue, as well as his choice of pseudonym, but I agree with some of the blurbs that he surpasses Chandler with these books. The five books making up the factory series:

He Died with His Eyes Open (1976)
The Devil's Home on Leave (1985)
How the Dead Live (1986)
I Was Dora Suarez (1990)
Dead Man Upright (1993)

That's my choice, and am interested in other people's favorite series.

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I tend to break these kind of lists into catagories because I'm a soft touch.

Favorite (The Easy Rawlins series)

Best (in my opinion) The True Crime series by Max Alan Collins

Guiltiest pleasure - The Spenser for Hire series by Parker. Over the top but I started seeking the books out years ago due to my love of the Robert Urich/Avery Brooks series (Brooks, by the way, was awesome as Hawk) series and have devoured what I came across, off and on, since.

The Millennium Series by Steig Larsson:

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo#1

Girl Who Played With Fire#2

Girl Who Stirred the Hornet's Nest#3

Agatha Christie's Poirot series also qualifies!

The Lew Archer series by Ross Macdonald.

I have to agree with John here, Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer was the best in my book. My favorite now is Robert Crais' Elvis Cole and Joe Pike series and Tess Gerritsen's Rizzoli&Isles (the novels, not the TV show, though I enjoy that too)

My own favourite is the Inspector Wexford series by Ruth Rendell.  The books are a joy to read and keep me guessing until the end.  Wexford is a middle aged police officer with intelligence, empathy and tolerance.  Self educated, he enjoys the arts and has an interesting family life, where relationships are sometimes stretched.  The UK TV series, starring the late George Baker, was also very good and true to the original novels.  Just call me "old school" and certainly middle aged... 

Caroline will be your friend.  She loves Rendell.  I like her books also. And then, of course, there are the Morse books, also with TV series.  And last but not least, my own favorite: R.D.Wingfield's Inspektor Frost series, again witrh a fine TV series.  :)

Curious George

Sherlock Holmes, of course, with Ed McBain's 87th Precinct a close second. 


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