RARA-AVIS: Re: Top 25 HB

pabergin (pabergin@gte.net)
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 22:14:28 -0500 Every time I see one of these Best Of lists, I swear it's going to be the
last one I ever read. And I'm as good as my word. Every single one is the
last one I read. Has anyone ever met someone who agreed with one?

They're as addictive as hot buttered and salted popcorn, approximately as
nourishing and arguably every bit as good for one's blood pressure. Herewith
my take on Murder Ink's list.

Mostly, I think the list is okay as far as the writers it included having
merit, except that including Sara Patetsky and Patricia Cornwell (!!!??)
while not mentioning Patricia Highsmith, Dorothy B. Hughes and Leigh
Brackett is a joke. I also happen to think that any best hardboiled list
that does not include Horace McCoy's Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye or Douglas
Fairbairn's masterful Street 8 reflects badly on the credentials of the list
compilers. Fairbairn never achieved wide fame, so maybe I can waffle on him,
but how can ANY best of hb list ignore McCoy?

Also, the list compilers in this case seem to be striving to nominate
well-known, popular titles for each author, rather than choose on the basis
of literary merit. To wit, The Deep Blue Good-Bye is a safe choice for John
D. It's the first McGee. However, any of several of his non-series books is
better -- Dead Low Tide, The Drowner and Where is Janice Gantry? come
immediately to mind. Hammett's Maltese Falcon is unquestionably more widely
read than The Glass Key, which is a far more emotionally complex and
accomplished novel. In my opinion, Willeford's The Way We Die Now is a
better book than Miami Blues, but for sheer power and hard boiledness,
neither can approach Pick-Up. That book probes to the damn BONE.

I could go on, but what's the point? I'd only be making my own list. I think
I'll go make some popcorn instead.

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