I had some difficulty with this, more than I expected, as not all of my favourite books are immediately accessible, buried on shelves behind boxes. (We are still trying to reclaim parts of the house from the mountains of stock.) However I came across enough books to select a dozen I would call favourite, or which represent a favourite author or series.
So we have these -
Indemnity Only by Sara Paretsky - because Paretsky was the writer who got me into crime fiction in the first place, so deserves a special place in my heart. I haven't read any of her more recent work but I did love those early VI Warshawski novels.
Backhand by Liza Cody - another of my favourite feisty women detectives and this one is set in Sarasota, Florida (one of my favourite parts of the world). It's a shame that Cody stopped writing these, though I did like the ones with the wrestler too.
Hurricane Season by Mickey Friedman - another Florida-based mystery, this one selected for the opening passages which are in my opinion some of the best I've ever read. (and its not just my opinion, as I think it was Sue Grafton who alerted me to this book in a writing manual about crime fiction). Sadly the rest of the book doesn't quite stand up to the excellence of the beginning.
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell - say what you like about her later work, this is still a classic. I only wish this was the highly valuable first edition and not, sadly, the book club edition that it is!
The Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb - I love this series, set in the Appalachian Mountains.
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane - because it's a wonderful book, but also representing all his other books, including the totally fantastic series featuring Patrick McKenzie, Angela Gennaro and Bubba Rogowski (everyone's favourite sociopath).
An Air That Kills by Andrew Taylor - the first of the Lydmouth series. Andrew's a great writer.
And then there are these -
Boudica - Dreaming the Eagle by Manda Scott - a great first book in a series that just gets better as you read on. Her crime novels are good too.
Coronado by Dennis Lehane - Yes, I know we did him already but I couldn't miss this one out. Probably the best book I've read so far this year and containing one of the my favourite short stories of all time.
Final Edition by Val McDermid - One of the Lindsay Gordon mysteries, which were where I started with Val's books. My favourite of her books is probably The Mermaids Singing (despite the gruesome bits) but I can't find it (though I'm fairly sure it has a black cover). I like all her detectives, Kate Brannigan is another of those feisty females! Pete has just walked into the other room and picked Mermaids Singing off the shelf where I had been looking for it for about 10 minutes - don't you just hate that!!! It does have a black cover.
The Black Ice by Michael Connelly - the second of the Harry Bosch novels, selected because this is in better condition than The Black Echo, which is the first Bosch book (and a rather battered paperback). Michael Connelly was the writer who finally got me off the feisty females and into stoic, grumpy male detectives. I started with the Poet (my copy doesn't have a black cover) then I found Harry Bosch and I've been with him ever since.
The White Road by John Connolly - this was the only one I could lay my hands on easily but it represents all the Charlie Parker novels, which I have loved since the very beginning.
OK, so that's the run down on some favourites. But even now as I'm typing this I know there are books that are missing from this list. There is no Ian Rankin - my favourite is Black and Blue and it's missing from its shelf for some reason. I don't seem to have any Lawrence Block handy and I love the Matt Scudder books (though not any of the others for some reason). Nor have I listed any James Lee Burke though I think I have a full set. (I'm such a completist). I know there are others that I've missed, Carol O'Connoll and Laura Lippman, GM Ford and PJ Tracy. I can see I'm going to have to come back to this theme sometime. Favourite detectives, favourite amateur sleuths, favourite duos, favourite Americans, favourite Brits, favourite Scots, favourite feisty females......oh, god..Kinsey Millhone, how could I forget her?
Next up...later in the week probably - red books........