My model as a mystery critic was Anthony Boucher, the New York Times Book Review "Criminals at Large" columnist who was equally prominent in the mystery and science fiction fields as author, reviewer, and editor. Boucher seemed to enjoy every type of crime, mystery, and suspense fiction, though he drew the line at trying to keep up with the flood of contemporary gothics that began in the 1960s. At first, I imagined myself as having similarly catholic tastes in mystery fiction, but as time went by, I came to realize this was not the case, though I think I can appreciate any type of story that is done really well. In the sixties and seventies, I read a lot of spy fiction, because that was what was being published and what would (we were told) drive the old-fashioned detective story out of the market. (You could only draw a reader, the theory went, if the fate of the world was in the balance--one or two mysteriously murdered individuals wouldn't do the job.) This turned out not to be true, I'm happy to say. By the mid-1980s, we seemed to be in a new Golden Age of mystery fiction. Every type of book was being done, and done well, by somebody, and the consensus was that in general the quality of writing in the genre was better than ever before. Twenty years later, I think the field has regressed for a number of reasons. While there is still plenty of excellent writing being done, the market has become more standardized. Review copies pour in at a greater than ever pace, and I must admit I am more excited to see a package from certain reprint or specialty publishers--Rue Morgue, Crippen & Landru, Hard Case Crime, Stark House, Ramble House--than I am from the New York majors. In my reviewing, I essentially pick what I want to read, and I'm always able to find more books I expect to enjoy than I can realistically get to, but most of the amateur-detective cozies and over-hyped blockbuster thrillers hold little interest for me. The best contemporary work, I think, is being done in the police procedural category, and a fair proportion of that is translated into English from other languages. For more of my opinions on contemporary writers, plus a sense of the history of the form, have a look at A Shot Rang Out, which deals primarily with work since Boucher's death in 1968.