One of my most-frequented Web sites, avclub.com, recently posted a primer for crime fiction. It's a useful guide for anyone looking to get into the genre. The article lists gateway authors, who beginners should avoid and where the initiated should aim. Read it by clicking here
No, I'm not affiliated with avclub.com. I just like the site. It is an offshoot of the deliciously satirical rag "The Onion."
What/who opened the door to crime fiction for you? My own initiation into the genre came from compilations, such as the "Master's Choice" series. It introduced me to a gamut of authors before I even had an Internet connection. That fascination morphed into crime journalism, which eventually caught up with my creative side.