Re: RARA-AVIS: Top Picks

Date: 07 Jan 2000

My recommendations for my "blown away" writers:

HAMMETT: *The Maltese Falcon* is his best novel, but Hammett was primarily a short story writer. The recent collection, *Nightmare Town* is probably the easiest to obtain and has a nice mix of his Op and non-Op work. *The Dain Curse* is not his best Op novel, but, of the three Op novels, it is the best example of Hammett's method of constructing a full-length book out of semi-autonomous short stories. Our current assignment, *Red Harvest*, is his best Op novel.

CHANDLER: *The Big Sleep* and *The Long Goodbye* are his best novels. The collection *Killer in the Rain* gives the best insight into his writing method.

McBAIN: My favorite has always been *The Heckler* which introduced the Deaf Man, McBain's "Moriarty" figure. *The Pusher* was my first and was the book that give me that "blown away" feeling.

WAINWRIGHT: An extraordinarily prolific writer, his best book, and one of the best cop books ever written, is *All on a Summer's Day*, about a particularly busy 24-hr. period in the "life" of a large police force.

HAMILTON: Without denigrating subsequent books in the series, *Death of a Citizen*, which introduced Matt Helm, is my favorite. In this book Hamilton combines the two most popular types of protagonists of spy fiction, the amateur who is unwittingly swept into a spy plot (a la Buchan's *39 Steps* or Hitchcock's various film versions of that book), and the tough professional agent (a la Durell, Bond, Quiller, etc.) into one figure, suburban husband and father (and former counter-intelligenge killer) Matt Helm. The dichotomy was fascinating.


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