Gideon Strauss ennumerates his five favourite crime writers. Nifty concept -- here are mine, in ascending order:
5. James Lee Burke -- best known for his Dave Robicheaux novels, set in New Orleans, but he's written other delights as well. It doesn't matter how he plays with geography or history, though: inevitably the story is about a Catholic recovering alcoholic with anger managment issues. It's all good, as far as I'm concerned.
4. Michael Connelly -- his Harry Bosch novels are compelling police procedurals, but for genuine crackerjack thrills head for his one-offs: Chasing The Dime is especially good.
3. Ian Rankin -- I just love the way Rebus gets beat up. It's no wonder he's so fond of single malts!
2. Richard Stark's (or Donald Westlake's) Parker Books -- discovered rather circuitously: I got enough of a kick out of Mel Gibson's bug-eyed Parker in Payback, so I sought out the John Frankenheimer/Lee Marvin original, Point Blank. Whoah, baby! Marvin sold me on Westlake, so now I'm scrounging used bookstores for Parker.
1. George Pelecanos -- straight-ahead prose, with two noteworthy narrative innovations: 1) he supplies a musical soundtrack that sends me directly to eMusic (or That Other On-line Vendor of Tunes Which Shall Remain Nameless); 2) he has patiently established a cast of characters who run in and out of each other's event horizons. I cannot overstate just how impressive this last feat is. Instead of betting the farm on one central character who gets hit in the head with a lead pipe every book, Pelecanos gives the reader a rotating cast subject to real-life trauma. Consider me hooked for life.
Update: wup -- looks like GS has added some musings on the theological appeal of said writings. Fast work!