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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Difficult question on a site where there are so many outstanding authors.
In no particular order, and I KNOW I'm leaving people out that I'll regret later...
Ernest Hemingway (reading his complete book of short stories and rediscovering how brilliant the guy was)
Walter Mosley (Easy Rawlins could very well be one of the top 10 memorable characters in crime fiction ever)
Donald E. Westlake / Richard Stark (Technically, that's still one writer, right?)
Elmore Leonard (I want his LIFE - 'nuff said.)
Jim Thompson (a sad but strangely brilliant guy that gave "cred" to the pulp writers)
Scott Smith (reading The Ruins right now and A Simple Plan is a modern classic)
James Ellroy (don't get better than The Black Dahlia or American Tabloid)
John Ridley (great style, modern gritty noir)
Mickey Spillane (the king of tough guy writers)
Scott Frank (screenwriter of The Lookout and Out of Sight; just needs to write MORE)
I can't believe I left Westlake/Stark off my list! I've never read John Ridley so that's another name I will look out for - thanks Nicholas :o)
Man, that's tough. I like that the rules here are pretty lax, so I'll do a top 5 in crime and a top 5 other. What better way to see what 'other' things I read.

Crime
1. Michael Robotham - if you haven't read 'Lost' (aka 'The Drowning Man' in some countries), get to it. You'll be hooked from line one, promise.
2. Raymond Chandler - one of the first of the 'I hear someone crying in the night and I go and see what's the matter' crime writers.
3. Iain Pears - 'An Instance of the Fingerpost' was a revelation.
4. Elmore Leonard - the king of the cool, and what dialogue!
5. John Connolly - love that spooky stuff.

Other
1. Steven Erikson - his 'Malazan' fantasy books are a real guilty pleasure for me.
2. Joseph Conrad - layers within layers within layers.
3. Raymond Carver - short stories to make your heart break.
4. China Mieville - dense, literary SF with a mean streak.
5. George RR Martin - Another guilty pleasure.

But my favourite book is Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
Hmm. . . let me see if I can get a top 10

1) Charlie Huston- He hasn't let me down yet
2) Richard K Morgan- Okay. This is stretching since technically he's a sci-fi writer. But his books all have a great noir vibe to them. People have even classified him as future noir
3) Don Winslow- Power of the Dog was the first book I've read by him and it blew me away and I have loved everything I've read of his since than
4) Duane Swierczynski- Quick, twisted, funny, and often unexpectedly powerful reads
5) James Ellroy- Loved everything he's done that I've read but American Tabloid is my favorite
6) Robert Crais- He was my introduction to crime fiction and his last novel the Watchman was one of his best
7) George Pellecanos- another gritty pehnomenal writer his last book, the Night Gardner was my favorite
8)John Connolly- He's got two of the greatest supporting characters in crime fiction
9) Dennis Lehane- loved the Kenzie and Gennaro books and Mystic River
10)Michael Connelly- Love the Bosch books they're authentic feeling procedurals
I'm glad someone else thinks Don Winslow should be on the list. Another author who isn't often mentioned because he isn't prolific is Kent Anderson. In my humble opinion, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL and NIGHT DOGS should be on everyone's TBR pile.
Robotham is good.
Because I love a challenge and that's exactly what this is, I will make an attempt...

1. Anne Perry
2. M.C. Beaton
3. Victoria Thompson
4. John Lescroart
5. Josh Lanyon
6. Greg Herren
7. Edward Marston
8. Karen Harper
9. Sarah Stewart Taylor
10. Jacquelyn Winspear

Others (dang that was hard)
P.D. James
Cynthia Riggs
Mary Saums
Robert Goddard
Elizabeth Becka
Casey Daniels
Five classic writers:

Dashiell Hammett
Rex Stout
Jim Thompson
Charles Willeford
Jonathan Latimer

Five more modern writers:

Walter Mosley
Lawrence Block
James Sallis
Elmore Leonard
Donald Westlake/Richard Stark

I'll pick one more-an up and coming writer, Gianrico Carofiglio, whose Reasonable Doubts was the best book I read last year.
James Lee Burke - Just the reason I began writing in the first place. He can always be relied on for beautiful, elegiac prose.
Robert Crais - An expert craftsman of the suspenseful, adrenalin fueled novel. I could read his books one after the other.
Mo Hayder - Although I've been a little disappointed by her output recently, I think Birdman and The Treatment are staggeringly dark books. She has a supremely twisted mind. And I mean that as a compliment!
Ian Rankin - John Rebus is the epitome of the frazzled, world-weary British cop. Exit Music took Rebus out on a high point.
John D. MacDonald - In my opinion, the master of the PI novel. His Travis McGee books are like poetry, and a masterclass in PI writing.
...and any amount of James M. Cain or Jim Thompson will keep me happy for months.
wow - this has been a great exercise. i've added plenty of new names to my list.

okay - top aussie writers:

shane maloney
peter temple
garry disher
pd martin
katherine howell
felicity young
lindy cameron

the rest of the world:

ian rankin
val mcdermid
michael connelly
dennis lehane
sara paretsky
robert crais
james ellroy
lawrence block
natsuo kirino

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