What does ‘best’ really mean? It’s hard to know whether you’re looking at a ‘one-book wonder’ or an author who will hold your attention over several books.*
I enjoyed The Seven-Per-Cent Solution a lot, but would I be interested in seeing the same trick again (Nicholas Meyer has written a couple of sequels)? Probably not.
In a similar Sherlockian vein, I read but didn’t review Laurie R. King’s The Beekeeper’s Apprentice. It’s a great book, but I enjoyed it as a stand-alone and was actually slightly disappointed to see it was the first in a lengthy series. Also: They get married?!?
Of the newer books I have read, I liked Patrick Easter’s River of Fire and thought William Ryan’s The Holy Thief was great, but are they anywhere close to being the ‘best’?
Ira Levin wrote A Kiss Before Dying in 1954 and it was his first book. In my review I said: ‘Ultimately A Kiss Before Dying earns its position as a classic, although probably best avoided if you’re in a new relationship.’ Levin went on to write arguably some of the best-known books of the second half of the last century: Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, The Stepford Wives. Each one was different, although they probably don’t qualify as crime fiction. However, I’m still going to go ahead to pick Levin as my best-new-to-me-author choice.
The ‘best new-to-me crime fiction author’ is a meme at Mysteries in Paradise.
*Unless, like me, you’re focusing on the classics of the genre and have the advantage of being able to take an overview.