The Crime Writers’ Association is about to celebrate its 60th birthday (it was founded by John Creasey on Bonfire Night 1953). To mark its anniversary, the CWA is going to ask its 600+ members three questions:
A) Who is the Best Ever crime writer?
B) Which is the Best Ever crime novel?
C) Which is the Best Ever crime series?
The CWA last polled its members 15 years ago, with the following fairly predictable results.
Best ever crime writer: Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers
Best novel: Sayers’ The Nine Tailors (1934), Chandler’s The Big Sleep (1939) and Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone* (1868)
Best series: Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels, followed by Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes.
Obviously little had changed since the 1990 publication of Hatchard’s Crime Companion, which featured the top 100 books selected by the CWA – a list I should be halfway through reading this month.
The answers are unlikely to change this time around (and to be honest they’re fairly solid, although I could do without Dorothy L. Sayers).
However, I think a more interesting set of questions – What crime novel surprised you most? What crime novel have you most recommended to other readers? – might generate a little more interest.
What questions would you ask your favourite crime writer?