50 crime writers to read before you die

I am just getting around to this, but the Telegraph posted their list of 50 crime writers to read before you die on Sunday.  Here is how they introduce the list:

We present them in no particular order, and make no apology for our omissions. But we would like to know what you think. Should Ellery Queen have been two of the names on the list? Hate Highsmith? Log on, or write in, and say so.

We wanted to compile a list of writers we had, jointly and severally, loved. We wanted to include writers like Dash Hammett, who brought something new and exciting to the genre; like Elmore Leonard, who turns an old trick in it with incomparable style; and like Poe, who invented it. We did not, except incidentally, take into account popularity.

Who, we asked ourselves finally, are the crime writers who can actually write? We believe any serious reader will profit from acquaintance with any of the writers on this list.

My reading habits are far too eclectic to make me a specialist in anything so I can’t claim expertise on the genre, but according to this list I am not well read in this particular area.  Here are the authors on the list with those I have read in bold:

GK Chesterton 1874-1936
Arthur Conan Doyle 1859-1930
Edgar Allan Poe 1809-1849
Ed McBain 1926-2005
Kyril Bonfiglioli 1929-85
James Ellroy 1948-
Janwillem van der Wetering 1931-
Carl Hiaasen 1953-
Dashiell Hammett 1894-1961
Dan Kavanagh 1946-
Margery Allingham 1904-66
Charles Dickens 1812-1870
Georges Simenon 1903-1989
Agatha Christie 1890-1976
Wilkie Collins 1824-1889
Jonathan Latimer 1906-83
Ruth Rendell 1930-
Ngaio Marsh c. 1895-1982
Benjamin Black 1945-
John Dickson Carr 1906-77
Michael Innes 1906-94
Raymond Chandler 1888-1959
Friedrich Dürrenmatt 1921-90
Michael Gilbert 1912-2006
Donald Westlake 1933-
Colin Bateman 1962-
Frances Fyfield 1948-
Reginald Hill 1936-
Andrea Camilleri 1925-
Henning Mankell 1948-
Patricia Highsmith 1921-1995
James Lee Burke 1936-
Jim Thompson 1906-1977
Walter Mosley 1952-
Denise Mina 1966-
Steig Larsson 1954-2004
Ronald Knox 1888-1957
EC Bentley 1875-1956
Lawrence Block 1938-
Edmund Crispin 1921-1978
William McIlvanney 1936-
George V Higgins 1939-1999
Dorothy L Sayers 1893-1957
Anthony Boucher 1911-68
Mickey Spillane 1918-2006
James Grady 1949-
George Pelecanos 1957-
Robert Crais 1954-
John Lawton 1949-
Elmore Leonard 1925-

For those scoring at home that is ten out of fifty.  I have to admit that there are a great many on the list I have never heard of let alone read.

I haven’t had a chance to gauge the lit blogs reaction to the list.  Anyone have a strong opinion?

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

1 Comment

  1. Any serious reader of crime novels has strong opinions. I highly recommend Walter Moseley from this list. How can Martin Cruz Smith (Gorky Park- Arkady Renko) be omitted? And “In Cold Blood” is the greatest true crime book ever written.

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