"LISTS CLAIMING TO PLACE, in order, the best this or the greatest that can sometimes be seen as exercises in provocation. They excite, anger and irritate readers, but perhaps they can never completely satisfy them. Now it is my task to serve as the fall guy for such an exercise, to be the butt of your dissatisfaction.
My brief was to list who I regarded as the greatest crime fiction writers of any era, and of all nationalities. It is specifically not a compilation of my own favourites. It contains writers I don't particularly enjoy reading, but whose influence on the genre has been significant, by way of their innovativeness, popularity or pioneering of new avenues.
The final choice was entirely mine, but I was given a great deal of helpful advice. We asked a panel of four experts to furnish their own 50 names - though not in order of preference. The crime writers Natasha Cooper and Val McDermid, Barry Forshaw, editor of the Rough Guide to Crime Fiction, and Peter Millar, reviewer of thrillers for The Times, produced lists of great interest, variety and surprises."
- Marcel Berlins, Times Online
1. Patricia Highsmith
Rule-breaking master of amorality
2. Georges Simenon
The Trojan horse of foreign crime-writing
4. Raymond Chandler
The most profound of pulp writers
5. Elmore Leonard
The Dickens of Detroit
6. Arthur Conan Doyle
Creator of the ultimate hero-and-sidekick team
7. Ed McBain
Thrilling writer of snap-and-crackle dialogue
8. James M. Cain
Godfather of Noir
9. Ian Rankin
Edinburgh’s gritty crime laureate
10. James Lee Burke
American spinner of bleakly lyrical tales
For the full list click here.