Originally Posted by the modern myth
If you like crime and detective fiction, I would investigate Dashiell Hammett, who always blows my mind. A predecessor of Raymond Chandler, he was a real pioneer of the 'hard-boiled' style. Chandler raved about him, and rightly so. 'The Maltese Falcon' is his most famous, but I think that 'The Thin Man' is his strongest. It's a brilliantly written, beautifully structured novel. For a great, short read James M. Cain is unbeatable. 'Double Indemnity' and 'The Postman Always Rings Twice' are incredible. You'll read them in one sitting, easily.
Edgar Allen Poe's detective, Dupin, is also worth investigating. The Dupin character helped shape the entire genre of detective fiction. Poe's gothic style lends itself brilliantly to the moody atmosphere and mysterious world of crimesolving, and I've read (and re-read) these stories countless times.
I lately started reading an author named Harry Crews. I only discovered him by reading his obituary, but it gave the details of some of his novels and the ideas sounded so interesting that I ordered a bunch of books online. 'Car' and 'The Gypsy's Curse' are two novels that I would highly recommend. He has a Southern Gothic style (similar to Flannery O'Connor) but with the raw, punchy prose of Bukowski and Hemmingway.
If you like Sci-Fi, check out John Wyndham. I loved his stuff as a kid and grew up reading and re-reading 'Day of the Triffids'. Great stuff.
I must confess crime fiction doesn't do a lot for me, I tend to prefer films for that style. Did read a Raymond Chandler book a long time ago whilst on holiday which was entertaining but hasn't stayed with me at all (I can't even recall the title).
Poe is great though I tend to favour his more gothic, dare I say horrific output to his more terrestrial works. What I've read of Wyndham ('Day of the Triffids' and 'The Midwich Cuckoos') was absolutely fantastic. Any others of his his you'd recommend?
Speaking as a huge fan of O'Connor, Bukowski and Hemingway Harry Crews definitely sounds intriguing. Many thanks for the suggestion, I'll track down some his stuff.