2. James lee Burke. The Southern version of Ellroy. His crime stories are almost mystical and just as cynical. Bonus points for having a three legged racoon named "Tripod" as one of the ongoing main characters.
3. Michael Connelly. His stories involve two brothers, one a homicide cop, one a defense attorney. His stories feel real and he gets the complexity of the judicial system.
4. Scott Turow. Would be higher up on the list but he rarely writes anymore. But when he does he takes you through an emotional maze and you'll bang through a 500 page book in a night.
5. Karen Slaughter. When you first read her it seems like she's just making interesting beach novels. Over time though it becomes clear that her books are actually just parts of a longer novel. They all fit together to tell a deeply rich story about the effect of meth on the rural south. Fascinating in the way the pieces fall together book to book.
6. Lee Child. How a British writer was able to create Jack Reacher and then use Reacher to show just how weird different parts of America are is beyond me. It's as though 24 became high literature.
7. Val McDermid. Scottish noir at its best. As gritty as you can get.
8. David Baldacci. Nothing too deep, but man are his books fun.
9. J.K. Rowling. Who knew that a children's book writer could use the exact same structures as Arthur Conan Doyle and actually improve upon them?
10. Tana French. All of her stories are centered around the same police station in a poor section of Ireland. Each novel uses a different member of that police station as the narrator. So, the narrator/main character in one book is a minor character in the next. All the narrators are unreliable so you end up getting the full picture of what's going on at that police station by seeing how each person sees the other people. An amazing trick to pull off.