Some time back, I moderated a panel with two other crime writers. It just so happened the gig fell on the 75th anniversary of the publication of The Maltese Falcon. I asked my team how The Falcon had affected their own writing, and both of them brightly said they'd never read the book. These are two Times list-leading noir writers. I was a little surprised, but I like both of them, so I'm not going to out them here. Besides, every time I'm with Gary Phillips and Gary Niebuhr, and they start talking about noir, I realize how woefully deficient my own reading is. For instance, Cornell Woolrich is a blank to me as are Jim Thompson, Hunter S. Thompson, and William Burroughs. I've read Anna Katherine Green, Sherlock Holmes, and Carroll John Daly, who created the very first hard-boiled detective in Race Williams. I'm not going to say any of those are essential for a crime writer, but I do happen to believe anyone writing the P I novel ought to read Hammett, Chandler, and Ross MacDonald.
Okay, how about you? What's your essential reading list for the knowledgeable crime writer?