I've only recently (in the last ten years) started to read mysteries seriously. I have to thank my Uncle Mac and Aunt Carol for getting me started.

  1. Linda Barnes. I love Carlotta Carlyle!
  2. Robert Campbell, for his Jimmy Flannery books (Nibbled to Death by Ducks, the 600 pound gorilla, etc). Beautiful conversational prose style, nice view of Machine politics in a bygone era.
  3. Agatha Christie. What can I say?
  4. Wilkie Collins, for the Moonstone.
  5. Peter Corris. He is Australian and his works are hard to find over here, but they are available. His `Cliff Hardy' books are very good.
  6. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, if only for the creation of a role that the late Jeremy Brett could perfect.
  7. Sue Grafton. Kinsey is great, too.
  8. Dashiell Hammett, of course; the Maltese Falcon, the Thin Man, lots more.
  9. Sparkle Hayter for her Robin Hudson books---very, very funny mysteries (see humour) but they work very well as mysteries, ignoring the wit---lovely books. More, please!
  10. Tony Hillerman. One of the most effective anti-racists I know of, and his books are the principal means of his success. Not incidentally, his books are terrific.
  11. P. D. James. She keeps getting better, too.
  12. Ngaio Marsh.
  13. Lia Matera. Her characters Laura Di Palma and Willa Jansson are extremely interesting (not always likeable), her situations and relationships often dark and edged, and her writing is peppered with brilliance, and with sharp humour. ``The price of admission to a mid-life crisis is that you stop noticing anything that won't sleep with you." (Willa Jansson, in Prior Convictions). Her computer knowledge and appreciation for where things are going is spot-on in Last Chants. Her home page is at this link . She makes my top 5 list, easily. She might be as funny as Sparkle Hayter, and her characters remind me of no-one so much as Rex Stout.
  14. Sharyn McCrumb, for Bimbos of the Death Sun . A brilliant book, with very memorable characters.
  15. L. A. Morse. Why, oh, why did this wonderful Canadian write so few books? `The Old Dick' is superb (an Edgar winner, I think).
  16. Walter Mosley. Easy Rawlins is one tough man.
  17. Marcia Muller. Just started on her---she's written a lot, and I'm very pleased!
  18. Sara Paretsky. Brr--Burn Marks left me shivering with tension. Wow! She is the best of the current mystery writers.
  19. Ruth Rendell. ``Simisola'' is perhaps her best so far.
  20. Dorothy Sayers. In the words of Grosvenor Powell, my first-year English professor (so many years ago) `She didn't just write mysteries, she was a scholar. '. These books give a wonderful view on a now-vanished era and an older set of sensibilities.
  21. Rex Stout. This man was a genius . These books were all first drafts---this is an impressive a feat as Mozart writing his works as first drafts. Nero Wolfe is the only believable genius in the mystery genre; his thoughts differ in quality, not just quantity, from the ordinary. Holmes, Wimsey, and Poirot are his nearest competitors, and they don't make it (except, sometimes, Wimsey comes close).
  22. Josephine Tey, for The Daughter of Time.
  23. Minette Walters. Thanks go to Helen Verrall for pointing this brilliant author out to me (Helen is also a Patrick O'Brian fan, so I knew I could trust her judgement). Minette Walters writes in a way that Ruth Rendell fans will like.
  24. L. R. Wright. Mysteries in Sechelt! Wonderful!