I have a soft spot for the writings of Wilkie Collins, who was born on this date, January 8, in 1824. His novel Moonstone, was one of the first "adult" (not Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, etc.) mysteries I read as a child. Moonstone is still considered by many to be the first detective novel in the English language. Many have heaped high praise on the book, including T. S. Eliot, who called it "the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels in a genre invented by Collins and not by Poe," and Dorothy L. Sayers, who added that it was "probably the very finest detective story ever written."
I'm not sure most contemporary scholars would all agree with such sweeping hyperbole, but the Moonstone and Collins's other novels, including The Woman in White, were definitely pathbreaking during the Victorian era, titillating readers with examples of what was dubbed the "Sensation Novel" genre. Collins was a lifelong friend of Charles Dickens and a colorful character who shocked Victorian sensibilities when he died in 1889 and it was learned he had divided his estate equally between two mistresses, Caroline Graves and Martha Rudd (and acknowledged Martha's three children as his own).
Collins's work does contain many elements that are so commonplace in today's crime fiction but were still new at the time, including tackling social issues in genre fiction, adding thriller elements, the trope of the femme fatale (anti-heroine Lydia Gwilt in No Name), and the police procedural in the form of Sergeant Cuff in Moonstone. So, happy birthday to Wilkie, and thanks for helping to create and inspire the crime fiction novels we read and enjoy today.