I like all but Ross ... Too much metaphor, always feels like an IQ test. This relates to that as that relates to the other ... a, b, c or d? In one book, I think I counted a metaphor every page or so until the story got going and then he dropped the metaphors for family trees--also annoying.
I've probably read more 87th Precincts than the other three writer combined. Must have read a couple of dozen in a row back in the 70s/80s. The one I read three years ago, one of his last, was like Law and Order: Too downbeat and the good guy (good gal) dies. It's intersting the way McBain had Carella go from a Korean War veteran over the years to a veteran of "one of our little wars." Detected very little aging, a character in the perpetual now, which is all right. I think readers and writers get too obsessed with the aging process of Parker's Spenser and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone.
Although at one time, John D.'s Travis McGee was my favorite, he was too schmaltzy, or maybe it was the times everything of that era was schmaltzy ... found that out when I reread a couple of the color books about a year ago. Still think McGee is a good guy for the post WWII mentality.
Lawrence Block, pretty good all around. "When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes" is one of my all-time favorite mysteries. Block's how-to series in Writers Digest a couple of decades back really helped me ... Looking back at the How-tos in book form, they were rather simplistic, but still valuable to a beginner.
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