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 dislike being pinned down ;-) and this list is only valid for the next 10 minutes when another 10 will be shuffled into the mix..so you get my drift...but these 10 are constants

Laura Lippman --both series and standalones-love the characters and plotting

Peter Robinson --probably shouldn't admit it but I have followed him since his first book

Ian Rankin -- for the same reason as Robinson (I seem to be dating myself here!)

James Crumley --I love the sparse writing

John Connolly --this man can tell a story and even though there is sometimes some supernatural tossed in I can forgive him...he can write grocery lists and I will still read him

Henning Mankell --love the descriptive writing even if it is often bleak and depressing

Val McDermid --who can do gritty and atmospheric

James Lee Burke --what can I say about this man's writing that hasn't been said before--it just puts me right beside him in LA..so much so I can smell the bayou and night air as I read them

John Harvey --solid dependable reads

and following in Donna's footstep...I also can't wait to read Jason Starr, Charlie Huston, Arnaldur Indritadson (sp?), Karin Slaughter, Mo Hayder, Denise Mina, Karin Fossum, Robert Fate, Mark Billingham, Stuart MacBride and well a whole pile of others...sigh....so many authors so little time!
Don't worry Patricia - I won't pin you very hard, since I broke my own rules! I really like ost of the authors you mention. Can't believe I left Crumley off my list!
Donna....there are tons that I left off the list which is why I am somewhat hesitant to "do" lists...there is also that Donna Moore person who better be writing another book...and Allan Guthrie, George Pelecanos, Danuta Reah well you get the picture....there are soooooooo many authors I want to read...NOW! LOL
Crime Writers top 5
1. Michael Connelly- Met him last weekend, great person, beautiful writing
2. James Lee Burke- Great characters- prose is almost poetic
3. Elmore Leonard- Best dialog hands down
4. Andrew Vachss- Noir to the nth
5. Randy Wayne White- More spy than crime, but Tomlinson is the best character ever (sorry Skitch!)

Others Top 5
1. William Gibson - the inventor of Cyberpunk
2. Jack Kerouac
3. Charles Bukowski
4. Sherman Alexie
5. Ann Rand

honorable mention- Tony Hillerman, TC Boyle, Jonathon Lethem, Richard K. Morgan, Ian Rankin, Joe Lansdale
I've never read any Vachss - I have added him to my list, and I've never even heard ofRichard K Morgan - thanks Terry!
Vachss is good, but I'd only recommend his short stories. The novels are a little too cartoony for my taste.
I agree, some of the entires in Vachss's Burke series border on cartoonish, but his recent standalones, TWO TRAINS RUNNING, and THE GETAWAY MAN are terrific. I can't believe you haven't read him, Donna. Maybe if you saw him in person, with his eye patch and pit bull....And, I second the Richard K. Morgan nomination: definitely hardboiled sci-fi. His debut, ALTERED CARBON, won the 2003 Philip K. Dick Award. Just ordered a copy of Morgan's THIRTEEN this morning, in fact. BTW, if you're inclined to pick it up, THIRTEEN was titled BLACK MAN in the U.K.
Hey! I also enjoy Tony Hillerman and Sherman Alexie. I have found the Ella Clah series of procedurals by Aimee/David Thurlo set on the res. reasonably good.
Loren D. Estleman---I never know what I'm gonna get, but...I'll like it.
Elmore Leonard---The Master. Need I say more.
Carl Hiassen---Incredibly wonderful, wacky characters.
John Sanford---Always edgy, tightly woven tales.
Robert Crais---Paints a super picture. Tense characterization.
Larry McMurtry---See Estleman
Ed McBain---The Grand Master. Gone...but not forgotten.
Sara Paretsky---We got drunk together in Nashville.
Robert Traver---Anatomy of a Murder had a lasting effect on this kid.
Tin Dorsey---His serial killer, Serge...is just too funny.
Since I love most of your list (especially Hiaasen and McBain) I have added Larry McMurtry to my list of new authors to look for - cheers.
You'll enjoy his stuff, Donna.

Pretty Boy Floyd was my last read. There sure are a lot of good authors...
I tried to answer this by thinking about which authors still are able to get me to order a book in advance or into the bookstore as soon as a new book reaches the shelf. In North America, the leaders would be William Kent Krueger, Randy Wayne White, John Sandford, Michael Connelly, Christine Kling, P.J. Parrish and Giles Blunt. I'll add Richard Barre, Donald Harstad, Frederick Huebner, Tom Corcoran and Theresa Monsour if they ever get another book out. And I'll definitely be ordering Cornelia Read's next book. From across the pond, I'll start with Ian Rankin and add Martyn Waites, Ron Ellis, David Peace and Edward Wright. I expect Cathi Unsworth will soon be added to the list as her second novel, The Singer, just arrived from England.

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