I'd say that near at least = L. Why? Well for a few reasons.
First off Near is at least as smart as L if not smarter. But that is just in raw brain power. L is a better dective though. But remember L has been solving cases way longer then Near. Plus this was Near's first and probably most difficult case he'll ever do. Also who is to say how good or bad L was on his first case.
Life and Death are always one and the sameEVEN IF A RAINBOW IS BROKEN THERE'S STILL THE SKY
There is also Matsuda's theory too(as shown in chapter 108 of the manga). Which states that Near may have suspected there was a fake notebook and told Linder to tell Mello about it. Near would have known Mello would be forced to take action which may or may not have uncovered the fake notebook (which it did obviously). Something the writers put to leave yet another open ended question in the serise.
Edit: Also Near wouldn't have said he knew about the fake notebook and would have said L is better to cover up the fact that he was indirectly responsible for the death of Matt, Mello, and Takada.
Actually, you can tell that L always suspected Light, he just never expected Rem to kill him and Watari. Once L proved that the 13 day rule was fake he could go after Light and Misa.Nobody ,as it doesn't matter ,actually Melo + Near = L ,the writer himself showed that in the show when Near said that without Melo's sacrifice there ,Kira wouldn't have been uncovered .So "Melo's sacrifice" + "Near's intelligent follow-up action" = Kira identity ,which L lost sight off just when he was that close to it. (Not to mention that the one who really failed Kira was no one but his Servant Makami so if Makami was there when L was still there ,there would be the same probability of the uncover.
Oh, and to answer the question of this thead:
L > Near
Mello + Near = L
Just like they said at the end of the series.
i would like to say it was Near (him being my favorite character)
but, it was certainly L, Near did kill him, but if it werent for L going through all he did, Near wouldnt have been able to kill him
Ryuzaki was a much harder opponent then Near. Near couldn't have got to
Light if it hadn't been for Mello and besides it was pure luck that light didn't kill Near because that Teru Mikami did screw his plan up. And hadn't Rem killed Ryuzaki to save Misa then Light had been put in Prison before Near had ever heard of him