I recently posted on Nero Wolfe, so I'm going to have to write about someone who is really starting to fascinate me which is Dashiell Hammett. I read his tale of gang warfare in Red Harvest featuring the short fat detective, the Continental Op, really liked it, and have since been working on The Continental Op, a series of short stories. Hammett does for crime fiction what Hemingway did for literary fiction which is to write very efficiently while maintaining emotional punch. The Op is a hard man working for The Continental Detective Agency (a thinly veiled fictional clone of The Pinkerton Agency where Hammett once worked). Though he's not physically impressive, he wins through sheer cussedness. He can't be bought or dazzled by a pretty face. On the other hand, he can booze with the best of them. Personality-wise, he reminds of Bruce Willis' character in the underrated The Last Boy Scout.
Based on what I've read so far, I can't wait to check out the Hammett books featuring Sam Spade and The Thin Man. Should be great stuff. Sadly, Hammett's productivity tailed off after he hooked up with commie/radical Lillian Hellman. He didn't write anything of note post the commencement of their stormy relationship.