Pulp Fiction: Max Allan Collins’ Favorite Detective Novels

Max Allan Collins’ latest mystery, The Consummata (with Mickey Spillane) will be released next Tuesday, so we decided to wrangle him into writing about his favorite lurid PI stories for us. He writes, “First, an admission – not every title on this list was published in a pulp magazine. Some, in fact, were first published in hardcover by respectable, even hoity-toity publishers like Knopf and Random House. But these writers, whether graduates of Black Mask or The Saturday Evening Post, fueled the pulp fiction that followed.”

“I could have filled this list with just books by Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain, and still have been frustrated by omissions,” he continues. “So I limited myself to one book per author. I regret leaving off several of my favorites, notably Chester Himes, Richard Stark and Jonathan Latimer.” So read on, dear readers, and let us know what books made you want to become a private eye or what covers caught your attention.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Sam Spade appears in a single novel in which Dashiell Hammett defines, perfects and abandons the private eye yarn. [Editor’s note: Sam Spade was the quintessential hard boiled PI — no contest.]