The List: Top 10 detectives

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From the January 9, 2014 edition

With HBO’s highly anticipated crime drama “True Detective” making its debut this week, we’re hot on the case of ranking our favorite crime investigators ever.

10. Encyclopedia Brown

Our favorite smug little bookworm could always solve the neighborhood mysteries with his, um, encyclopedic knowledge of the most trivial BS. Also, it was usually Bugs Meany.

9. John Shaft

You damn right.

8. Jake Gittes

Roman Polanski’s neo-noir “Chinatown” is a staggering masterpiece in the detective genre, in part because of Jack Nicholson’s iconic performance as private eye Jake Gittes. Fun fact: Polanski plays the henchman who slashes Jake’s nose.

7. Inspector Clousseau

We considered several great bumbling detectives (Frank Drebin from “The Naked Gun,” Ace Ventura), but no one could top Peter Sellers. Especially not Steve Martin in the lousy reboots.

6. Detectives Jimmy McNulty and “Bunk” Moreland

The two central cops on “The Wire” may not have been the best people, but they were “good police.” Of all the iconic TV police detectives (see also: Andy Sipowicz on “NYPD Blue,” Lennie Briscoe on “Law & Order”), these two were our favorites because of their damaging dedication to the job.

5. Marge Gunderson

The heroine of “Fargo” is a pretty darn tootin’ good detective, don’tcha know? Ya, she is, for Pete’s sake. You betcha.

4. Sherlock Holmes

One of the most legendary literary detectives ever has seen resurgence in film and TV lately. “Elementary” and the “Sherlock Holmes” movies have their good qualities, but the BBC’s “Sherlock” (Series 3 premieres on PBS Jan. 19) starring Benedict Cumberbatch is the gold standard.

3. Batman

Sure, we usually think of Batman’s badass fighting skills and “all those wonderful toys,” but his mind and sleuthing fortitude is often the Dark Knight’s best asset.

2. Veronica Mars

That’s right, marshmallows. We love Kristen Bell’s tough and smart high-school heroine, and not just because we’re excited for the movie. Go watch the series first.

1. FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper

In investigating the murder of Laura Palmer on “Twin Peaks,” Cooper had the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes, a taste for a damn fine cup of a coffee and an ability to crack the important clues that were delivered by the backwards-speaking dwarf of his dreams.

AP file photo courtesy of Gramercy Pictures