I was recently asked if I could produce a list of my “100 Best” mysteries, and list lover that I am I couldn’t resist. I wouldn’t call them my 100 best, though – “best” implies a more rigorously articulated set of standards than I can lay claim to.

   Let’s say that these are 100 books that, after 40-odd years of reading in the field, I might choose to build a basic library of the kinds of books I like most to read. If I were to go through the same process tomorrow a number of the individual titles might change, but there would be very few changes among the authors.

— Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #8, July 1993.

ADAMS, Harold – The Man Who Met the Train
ATLEE, Philip – The Green Wound
BLEECK, Oliver (Ross Thomas) – The Procane Chronicles
BLOCK, Lawrence – When the Sacred Ginmill Closes
         A Walk Among the Tombstones
BOYER, Rick – The Daisy Ducks
BROWN, Fredric – The Fabulous Clipjoint
BROWNE, Howard – The Taste of Ashes
BURKE, James Lee – The Neon Rain
      Black Cherry Blues
CAMP, John – The Empress File
CARR, John Dickson – Castle Skull
CHANDLER, Raymond – The Big Sleep
      The Long Goodbye
CHARTERIS, Leslie – The Last Hero
CHESTERTON, G. K. – The Man Who Was Thursday
CLEARY, Jon – Now and Then, Amen
COLLINS, Max Allan – Neon Mirage
COLLINS, Michael – Freak
CONSTANTINE, K. C. – The Man Who Liked Slow Tomatoes
DICKSON, Carter (J. D. Carr) – The Punch and Judy Murders
      The Judas Window
ESTLEMAN, Loren D. – Sugartown
FAULKNER, William – Knight’s Gambit
FREEMANTLE, Brian – Charlie M
      Charlie Muffin, U.S.A.
FRIEDMAN, Kinky – When the Cat’s Away
GAULT, William Campbell – Day ofthe Ram
GILBERT, Michael – Game Without Rules
      Mr. Calder and Mr. Behrens
GILL, Bartholomew – The Death of Love
GORES, Joe – A TIme of Predators
GRANGER, Bill – The November Man
GREENLEAF, Stephen – Fatal Obsession
HALL, Adam – The Quiller Memorandum
HAMILTON, Donald – Death of a Citizen
HAMMETT, Dashiell – Red Harvest
      Blood Money
      The Maltese Falcon
HARE, Cyril – An English Murder
      Tragedy at Law
HARVEY, John – Wasted Years
HEALY, Jeremiah – The Staked Goat
HILL, Reginald – Recalled To Life
HILLERMAN, Tony – Skinwalkers
HIMES, Chester – The Big Gold Dream
INNES, Michael – Seven Suspects
      Appleby’s End
JAMES, P. D. – An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
KAMINSKY, Stuart M. – A Cold Red Sunrise
KELLERMAN, Jonathan – Over the Edge
LINDSEY, David L. – In the Lake of the Moon
      Body of Truth
LYONS, Arthur – Dead Ringer
MacDONALD, John D. – A Purple Place for Dying
      The Girl, the Gold Watch, and Everything
MACDONALD, Ross – The Doomsters
      Black Money
MALCOLM, John – The Gwen John Sculpture
MARON, Margaret – Bootlegger’s Daughter
MAYOR. Archer – Open Season
McCLURE, James – The Song Dog
      Steam Pig
McGOWN, Jill – Murder at the Old Vicarage
McILVANNEY, William – Strange Loyalties
NEEL, Janet – Death on Site
OLIVER, Anthony – The Pew Group
PARKER. Robert B. – Mortal Stakes
      Early Autumn
PERRY, Thomas – The Butcher’s Boy
      Metzger’s Dog
PICKARD, Nancy – I.O.U.
PIERCE, David M. – Down in the Valley
PRICE, Anthony M. – The Labyrinth Makers
      Colonel Butler’s Wolf
      The ’44 Vintage
PRONZlNI, Bill – Shackles
QUEEN, Ellery – Calamity Town
RENDELL, Ruth – Murder Being Once Done
RIGGS, John R. – Haunt of the Nightingale
ROBERTS, Les – Deep Shaker
      Seeing the Elephant
ROSS, Jonathan – Here Lies Nancy Frail
SAYERS, Dorothy L. – The Nine Tailors
      Gaudy Night
SAYLOR, Steven – Roman Blood
SPICER, Bart – Blues for the Prince
STARK, Richard (Donald Westlake) – The Hunter
      The Outfit
      Butcher’s Moon
STOUT, Rex – Fer de Lance
      Too Many Cooks
      Black Orchids
      The Black Mountain
THOMAS, Ross – The Fools in Town Are on Our Side
      The Seersucker Whipsaw
      Chinaman’s Chance
      The Cold War Swap
VALIN, Jonathan – The Lime Pit
WOODRELL, Daniel – Under the Bright Lights

   Obviously, my preferences lean more to the modern than the classic, and to the hard-edged than the cozy. When I make one of these, I’m always surprised at some of my choices, and at how hard it is to make them. I could have done 200, and still been happy with the quality.

Editorial Comment:   If Barry were still with us today, it would be interesting to have him compare his favorites now with those he came up with back then. It’s hard work making up a list like this — I’ve never been able to do it myself — but if anyone would like to take up the challenge, I’d be glad to post it here.

   I do have one ready in hand from Jeff Meyerson, one he also did in 1993, and in fact it was in direct response to this one from Barry. I’ll post it here on Sunday.