I'm reading Michael Connelly and James Lee Burke (one upstairs, one downstairs). What do these guys have that makes them so good? Burke certainly has the descriptive prose down, with unique, well-crafted phrases that both describe and lead, so the story doesn't suffer while the author shows off his prose. Connelly's what I'd deem a page-turner; the reader wants to know what's going to happen next, so it's hard to put the book down and do something like, oh, I don't know, write a blog maybe. That's good writing, too, although maybe with less of the "literary" touch.
Of course there will be people who are thinking, "I tried that guy and he wasn't so great." That's fine. I've said it here a thousand times (hyperbole there, sorry): we don't all like the same type of writing. Still, enough people like certain authors enough to raise them above the ordinary. We wait for their next project, revel in the worlds they create, sigh when we finish a book and can't be in that world any more.
I suppose it's a gift. I suppose as well that it's the luck to come along at a point where your particular type of writing is in vogue. (Imagine Thomas Hardy trying to get published today, or Agatha Christie!) But a good part of it is a way with words, a storytelling talent that goes beyond plot, beyond unique characters, and pulls the reader into something more than decoding words, phrases, and sentences. It's rare in any age, and it's no wonder that when we find the writer who speaks to us with his or her prose, we line up and wait to see what else he's got to say.