There was a thread recently which asked people to name their all time top author. This was, as it happens, incredibly difficult. So I'm now going to make it easier (or is it even harder?) by asking for a top 10. I have an ulterior motive because I am always looking for new authors to try (heaven only knows why, since I already have a TBR pile the size of a small European country) and I know that if someone lists several authors they like and they match my favourites, then there's a pretty good chance that I will like the others on their list.

So, who are your 10 very favourite authors and, if you like, a brief idea of why you particularly like them.

Here's my list, in no particular order. And it was too bloody hard, so I have left out the classics (otherwise Chandler and Cain would have been in there) just so I have more room (plus I also got to mention Chandler and Cain...how sneaky am I?!)

Daniel Woodrell (memorable characters and stunning writing)
Ken Bruen (funny, stylish, strong characters you either love or love to hate)
Eddie Muller (wonderful sense of place and time, wonderful film noir style, characters)
Joe Lansdale (funny, sad, atmospheric, characters that grab your heart)
Charles Willeford (hard-boiled, sardonic, slice of life)
Charlie Williams (insane, funny, quirky)
Al Guthrie (dark, violent and hilarious)
Barbara Seranella (those heart grabbing characters again, touching and funny)
Megan Abbott (stylish writing, noir atmosphere)

That's 9. I'm struggling to narrow my choice down for the tenth author for the list. Do I pick someone who has several books out but I've only read a couple? Do I pick someone with only a couple of books out so far? How do I choose out of Ray Banks, Kevin Wignall, Declan Burke, Duane Swierczynski, Stuart Pawson, Bill Fitzhugh, Steve Brewer, Colin Cotterill, David Corbett, Reed Farrel Coleman, Mark Haskell Smith? All of them are writers whose books I buy as soon as they come out.

Will I remember others I should have included as soon as I have sent this post? Definitely. Have I already cheated by naming about 20 writers I love? Errrr...yes :o) Do I care? Not a jot.

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I've sort of picked them up on my travels, by osmosis :o) A couple have been given to me, a couple I have bought in second-hand shops because I have seen them really cheap and I know I will get round to reading him one day.
Here goes, off the top of my head.
Mark Billingham.
Kevin Wignall.
Stuart Mac Bride.
Jonathen Kellerman.
Michael Connelly.
John Rickards.
Val McDermid.
Dennis Lehane.
Richard Montanari.
Simon Kernick.
Nice list Chelbel! I've never read Montanari although I have THE SKIN GODS. Nice to see Simon Kernick on your list too - his stuff is great.
Thanks, and yes i never tire of recommending Simon's stuff.
I too decided to leave out classics so I made myself work in the last 30 years or so.

Absolute favorites no matter what they write. (They would be a part of a mixed list also)

Ken Bruen - Great characters. Great stories. A unique style. Great writing. Books of note: The White trilogy, The Guards & American Skin

James Sallis - The single most experimental mystery novelist ever. A lot of people just don't get his work (4ma'ers just go back and look at the recent digests). He is, in many ways, the high level mark of what the genre is capable of. Books of note: Drive, Cripple Creek, Long-Legged Fly

Dennis Lehane - I love Lehane. I count Darkness Take My hand as one of my all time favorite books. Kenzie/Gennaro books are, in many ways, the high water mark of what series writing is capable of. Mystic River is the great American tragedy. Books of note: Darkness Take My Hand, Gone Baby Gone & Mystic River.

Dark Horse favorites

Two writers with a vaguely similar style. They both write heavy, foreboding, character driven tragedy's.

Kemm Nunn - Nunn isn't productive and that makes me treasure his releases when they come out. A great writer that deserves wider attention. Now that he's done with with John From Cincinnati maybe we can get another novel out of him. Books of note: Tapping the Source & Tijuana Straits

David Corbett - Fully realized characters acting out small and large scale human sagas. Books of note: The Devil's Redhead & Blood of Paradise.

Leader(s) of the new school

Charlie Huston - Charlie's playing cards with a loaded deck. A unique style and boatloads of good writing. Books of note: Caught Stealing, Already Dead & Shotgun Rule.

Oldies But Goodies

James Crumley - One of the most influential writers of the last 30 years. His marriage of great writing with the crime novel form was made in heaven. He provided a well needed spur to the sides of the genre. A lot of writers answered the challenge. Books of note: The Last Good Kiss & The Wrong Case

James Lee Burke - Great writing but for fuck's sake Dave should have been put to bed quite awhile ago.

James Ellroy - His body of work is unquestionably great.

Odd Man Out

David Simon - Homicide is one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. Blows my mind every time I read it. Not to mention being a kind of Rosetta Stone for all the later television work. The Corner is equally brilliant but will never be as popular because it follows a tapestry of junkies instead of a tapestry of cops but they are two sides of the same coin. Books of note: Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets (the new edition) & The Corner. Shows of note: Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Corner & The Wire.

On Deck

Sean Doolittle - Reading The Cleanup really raised his value in my estimation. Doolittle took quantum leaps forward from quiet competence to sheer brilliance with that book. I hope that same level of progression is continued.

Other Genre's

Gene Wolfe
Tim Powers
Jonathan Carroll
Graham Joyce
Patrick O'Leary
Jack Vance
Dan Simmons
Russell Hoban
Catherynne Valente
Stepan Chapman
Jeff Vandermeer
Salvador Placencia
DRIVE was one of my favourite books of last year. It was splendid. I've really enjoyed all the Sean Doolittle books I've read. I think my favourite so far is DIRT. And I definitely need to get around to reading Charlie Huston.
I find I like a strong sense of place/culture in my favourite noir reading..

1. Jean Claude-Izzo. A Love/Hate relationship (mostly love I think) with the Marseille cultural and social melting pot.

2. Ian Rankin. For the earlier work which destroyed the tweedily respectable image of Edinburgh.

3. Yasmina Khadra. Rivetting, often bleak view of the modern middle east.

4. Qiao Xialong. Fascinating view of modern and recent Chinese history and living conditions.

5. Andrea Cammilleri. Opening up Sicilian life and culture in a humorous but usually non-sentimental way.

6. Ken Bruen. Kicks the sh*t out of the police procedural in his R & B series. Genius.

7. Benjamin Black. Beautiful writing and depiction of 50s Dublin.

8. Phil Rickman. Unusual part-supernatural themes (diocesan exorcist as heroine), great depiction of life in the Welsh border country.

9. Tonino Benacquista. Stylish, stylish and stylish Italy/French set thrillers. All different and miniature masterpieces.

10. Simenon. The Grandaddy of eurocrime.

Also those who get the legal profession sussed - rarely heroic, usually distracted to some degree by family/personal life, even when in the midst of an important cas.e

1. Gianrico Carofiglio.

2. Asa Larsson
Wow - a couple there I have never heard of Laura, and a couple of others I've heard of but never read - thanks!
Carofiglio, Larsson, Benacquista. Camilleri being right up my alley - I've added Jean Claude-Izzo to my must get list as well ... thanks Laura!
glad to be of assistance :)
Ray - since I love love LOVE 6 of the authors on your list, the ones I've never read anything by (Crews, Lewis, Selby) are going straight on my list. Cheers mate. And see you tomorrow :o)
Nice to know people are still reading "Cubby".

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