What amazed me is that Maltese Falcon is SO perfect, it was barely changed at all for the movie. A few extra pieces of dialogue that empghasized the attraction Cairo had for Elmer and a veiled hint that Sam and Brigid slept together and that was probably cut by the Hays Office.
i know. i was surprised at the romance between the two. that censorship was too much in those days! but the story as a whole survived nicely onto the screen. i could hear Sam Spade as Bogie say every word though as i was reading it. it must have been something for the reader before the film--I would imagine.
It's a VERY tough choice. If I'm forced to go for one, I'm going to pick one who hasn't been mentioned (since some of my favourites already have - Bruen, Chandler) and say Daniel Woodrell. Every single word is sheer genius.