Since I'm in list mode, I thought of another that is relatively easy to make. A list of top favorite horror writers would be tougher, but I managed to form a list of my top 10 crime fiction writers.

Bill Pronzini: author of the Nameless Detective series and many other novels and short stories. Pronzini has a knack for good storytelling. He can be decidedly nasty and cold hearted in his short stories and compassionate and humane in his novels. He accomplishes a breadth of emotions in just about any form and should be adapted for visual media.

Walter B. Gibson: having written nearly 300 novels of the classic pulp character, the Shadow, Gibson was a workhorse that I respect deeply. Not every story was a winner but they don't all have to be. Looking at his writing as a whole, you could see that he wove a tapestry of ingenious crimes, exciting shootouts, colorful villains, and an atmosphere of intrigue. Pulp fiction, back in the day, promised fast-paced thrills. On many occasions, his stories took some time to build up but usually to great effect. The Shadow was the template for many other pulp heroes to come and from him and those characters came the comic book superheroes. Some of my favorite Shadow novels include, Gray Fist, Zemba, The Salamanders, The Living Shadow, The Voodoo Master, City of Doom, Voodoo Trail, The Ghost of the Manor, The Black Master, Gangdom's Doom, The Creeping Death, and many others.

Ed McBain: one of the literary fathers of the police procedural, McBain wrote in a manner that was wholly realistic and engaging at the same time. He wrote the 87th Precinct novels that had a collectivist approach to its protagonists. Instead of focusing on one hero, the entire precinct has heroic characters as ordinary as you and me. Some standout novels from this series include Killer's Wedge, The Heckler, Doll, and Cop Hater. I still need to read more. He also wrote some excellent Fawcett Gold Medal novels, like Runaway Black. He was also the most prolific contributor to the digest magazine Manhunt, which was a successor of sorts to Black Mask (aka The King of the Pulps).

Arthur Conan Doyle: he is best remembered for Sherlock Holmes and for good reason. Holmes popularized a philosophy for solving crime by using deductive reasoning, and his Holmes stories are as readable as they were in the 1890s. To me, there is no mystery genre without Holmes.

Edgar Allan Poe: Among his many accomplishments, he invented the detective story and pioneered the psychological thriller. His character Dupin became the model for many other brainy amateur sleuths to come. Poe has influenced thousands of writers, either directly or indirectly, in multiple genres. Do not underestimate the power of Poe.

Robert Bloch: Most of his novels fall into the crime genre category. Of course, there's Psycho, which is as much a mystery as it is a horror story. He also wrote The Scarf, The Kidnapper, The Will to Kill, Terror, Firebug, Night-World, and Night of the Ripper, all of which are psychological thrillers more or less flavored with the horrific. He really could get into the head of a killer or at least convince you that the killer was genuine.

Harry Whittington: This guy could seriously write. Crime novels make up a sizeable dent in his oeuvre but he wrote in several genres. He was a machine, but the quality of his work didn't suffer from how fast he wrote. His crime novels with Fawcett Gold Medal stand out as some great achievements, such as A Ticket to Hell, Web of Murder, Hell Can Wait, and Brute in Brass.

John Dickson Carr: he wrote some genuinely perplexing locked-room mysteries but then again he is the acknowledged master of the form. Carr always had ingenious solutions that usually simpler than you might imagine them to be. His combination of the gothic with the impossible crime is a true winner. Some of my favorites by him include The Burning Court, The Plague Court Murders, The 3 Coffins, The Crooked Hinge, Hag's Nook, Castle Skull, It Walks By Night, and The Corpse in the Waxworks.

Jim Thompson: from what I've read of the man, he was a gentle man loved by his family but plagued with alcoholism and bad health.Thompson wrote of nasty individuals, moral weaklings, and men who are teetering on or have fallen off the edge of sanity. It's hard to find anyone genuinely sympathetic in his novels, but that's okay. I don't believe that a character must be sympathetic, but they have to be interesting. I am always interested in what messes Thompson's criminals find themselves in, which often lead to some bleak but powerful endings. To me, his best ones are The Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, Pop. 1280, One Hell of a Woman, and The Grifters.

Cornell Woolrich: his stories are often short on logic, but when his stories are often nightmare-like scenarios of unbearable tension, there is little room for logic of any kind. Woolrich wrote some of the darkest crime noir stories. He, like some other writers on the list, was no perfect craftsman, but his work was the genuine article. For shear paranoia, he was one of the best. My favorites by him include The Bride Wore Black, Black Alibi, Rendezvous in Black, Savage Bride, and his many short stories.

Honorable Mentions: Dashiell Hammett, Ed Gorman, Gil Brewer, Day Keene, Jonathan Craig, Richard Deming, Henry Slesar, Jack Ritchie, Lawrence Block, Charles Williams, Chester Himes, Richard Wright, John D. MacDonald, Peter Rabe, Patricia Highsmith, Dorothy Hughes, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, and Clifton Adams.

Written by Nicholas Montelongo

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