What the CWA Top 100 missed (US authors)

My ambition to read all top 100 CWA titles is going well, but I keep thinking of titles that seem to have been missed off the list.

I’ve read mainly US titles so far, so here are five surprise omissions from the list, which was published in 1990. I’ll suggest some UK omissions later.

Jim Thompson: The Killer Inside Me (1952)
‘Probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered,.’ said Stanley Kubrick. Certainly worthy of place alongside Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying.

Robert B. Parker: The Godwulf Manuscript (1973)
You can have too much Spenser – he’s a bit too good at everything for my liking – but in this first outing he reads like a worthy successor to Marlowe.

Joseph Wambaugh: The Choirboys (1975)
This was so reminiscent of Catch-22 (with a side helping of M*A*S*H) that I didn’t really appreciate the story on my first reading. But stick with it, and it’s a story of real poignancy.

James Ellroy: The Black Dahlia (1987)
Whether you call it stylish neo-noir or just as mad as a box of frogs, the first in Ellroy’s LA Quartet will be one of the most memorable pieces of crime fiction you ever read.

Thomas Harris: The Silence of the Lambs (1988)
The textbook novel of serial killers and the people who hunt them. I could have said Red Dragon too, but I decided to go with five titles in this list.

Any more for any more?

About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
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2 Responses to What the CWA Top 100 missed (US authors)

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Rich – You’ve certainly chosen some compelling novels that I’m surprised too aren’t on that list. Interesting how those lists always miss out some of the great novels, but then….. that’s why I think lists such as that one need to be regarded with a bit of skepticism.


  2. I bought this book when it came out (that dates me ….) and have, ever since been dutifully ticking the books as I read them – but there are some that have defeated me too, I must admit. But it’s a great launching pad as all such lists are, with an emphasis on British writers (and why not, they’re all good). There are some authors, like Dick Francis, that I doubt would survive an equivalent list were it made today. I really like the idea of your counter-list – look forward to seeing where it takes you. I would want to see the inclusion of authors such as Fredric Brown and Cornell Woolrich as well as more mainstream practitioners like Patrick Quentin.


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