Okay, say someone hasn't read a lot in the mystery/thriller/noir genre(s) and has asked you for recommendations? Who are the must-reads in each of those sub-genres and why? If they're "classic masters" that's fine, but I'd love to see a list of who you all think are the contemporary best-of-the-genre as well.

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I'd probably start them off with the ones that got me into the genre: Robert Crais, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly.

Then writers who may be a little less known to the current general public, but still major influences: Elmore Leonard. Richard Stark/Donald Westlake. John D. McDonald. Early Robert B. Parker. Lawrence Block's Scudder novels.

Then a little history lesson: Hammett, then Chandler, then Ross McDonald. Jim Thompson.

Then, once they're solid fans of the genre, my "you gotta read this" list: Ken Bruen, Jason Starr, Duane Swierczynski, Allan Guthrie, John Connally, Laura Lippman, Margaret Maron, Cornelia Read, David Terrenoire, Victor Gischler, Sean Doolittle, Lee Child, Anthony Neil Smith, Barry Eisler, Pat Mullan, Lori J. Armstrong, Harlan Coben, Karin Slaughter, Joe Konrath, etc. etc.
Wow, excellent list, Dusty. There's two on your list I haven't read... will be buying those this week.
Lehane is one of my favorites.

I would add Ed McBain to Dusty's list of "classic masters." And to the list of contemporaries, Julia Spencer-Fleming.
Agreed.As to both.
Dusty has pretty well covered it, although I am genuinely embarrassed to be mentioned in the same post as those other writers.

Elmore Leonard is the one who got me hooked and I love Carl Hiassen although I can never remember if it's two a's or two s's in his name.

As for classics, one Dusty didn't mention is James M. Cain. He wrote Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and a few other must-reads.

That should keep you busy for a while.
Definitely add Cain in there.
Ahh, yes, Cain. How could I forget Cain?
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. Private eye mystery.

Marathon Man by William Goldman. Best thriller ever written.

Magic by William Goldman. Another thriller, with a jump out of your chair twist.

And for the two Goldman's, forget the movies. You're much better off if you haven't seen them.

The Fugitive Pigeon by Donald Westlake. Comedy mystery thriller.

Somebody Owes Me Money by Donald Westlake. Comedy mystery thriller.

All of the five or so books by Tucker Coe (Westlake again). Straight mystery with an amateur sleuth (disgraced cop).

Lemons Never Lie by Richard Stark (Westlake again). Crime thriller.

Any of the Parker novels by Richard Stark (guess who). Crime thrillers.

Just about anything by Elmore Leonard.

Shell Scott light-hearted private eye mysteries by Richard S. Prather.

Milo March light-hearted private eye mysteries by M.E. Chaber.

Just about anything by John D. MacDonald (although I prefer his non-Travis McGee stuff).

Ross MacDonald's early Archer novels. Private eye.

Mickey Spillane's early work. Private eye.

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. A masterpiece.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins. Crime thriller.
Cool, Rob, there are some here I hadn' read yet. I know what I'm going to be doing this spring.
Damn,. I knew there'd be some I'd forget, but how could I have forgotten Friends of Eddie Coyle, which was the springboard from which I dove into my own The Devil's Right Hand.
Anybody who's read the "Tucker Coe" novels is sure to think there's some resemblance to the Block's Mattew Scudder books.
No women, Rob? In fact, hardly anyone mentions women except for Dusty and Sandra R. Why is this?

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