A Thrilling Introduction!

About a million years ago, when I was growing up near Montreal, my heroes were the American TV cowboys. I used to tell folks my name was Roy Rogers, and my parents humoured me. They gave me cap guns and encouraged me to play cowboys and Indians (told ya it was a long time ago!).

Somehow, however, I was always more interested in bringing bankrobbers and rustlers to justice, than plugging "redskins." Then again, I never really wanted to be the sheriff, either. Somehow, I always wanted to be the lone guy, riding the range, running through the woods, bringing varmints to justice. But then, inexplicably, my heroes skipped back a century, as Roy Rogers gave way in the television schedule (and my heart) to Daniel Boone, Hawkeye and even Pierre Radisson (a French-Canadian coureur de bois, filmed a few miles from where I'm sitting now). Six guns had been replaced by muskets, and rustlers and the Apache had been replaced by renegade trappers, Pawnee, Hurons, and the British.

Toss in a few more boyhood heroes (Zorro, Robin Hood, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Tarzan, Batman) and a pattern started to develop. The idea of the outsider, the loner, striving to impose his idea of justice on a world that may not want him, but which he understands. He may not always like it, he may not be able to really change anything, he may not even be thanked for his efforts, but to him, the right thing must be done.

Finally, add a Saturday night in -- what? 1967? -- when, big boy that I was, my ma let me stay up to watch...Mannix! It all crystallized for me. From that moment on, I was hooked. From that one glimpse of Mannix, it was on to reading the Bobbsey Twins, the Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators. And watching Cannon, Rockford, Harry O, and from there, Bogart movies. And from Bogart, it was a short hop to the Hammett and Chandler novels that inspired them.

I've now been reading crime fiction, mostly, but not exclusively, private detective fiction, for over a quarter of a century. This site reflects my ongoing interest in the genre. I hope you'll get a kick out of it.

Contributions are welcome! Obviously, this site will never be finished. Doesn't mean I won't keep it going, though. And if you feel like contributing, go ahead. I promise I won't poke you in the eye with a sharp stick.

E-mail me your own short bios/bibliographies/critiques of your favourite private eyes (see Definition below). I can't pay you anything, but I'll credit you. And I'm always on the lookout for new sites, newsgroups, lists, books, magazines, films, television, whatever, dealing with this topic, so if you come across something I should include here, let me know. I'm also interested in new lists for the trivia section, or additions to those already up.

For those of you thinking of submitting fiction, sorry. We're no longer publishing fiction. But we sure had fun while it lasted...

Please be sure to also include a short bio, and plug for yourself, if you want, and I'll include it on The Staff page.

Remember, this site's still in its infancy, and I've miles to go before I keep any of it, but this will give you an idea of what I'm attempting.

Please browse through it, and feel free to offer any suggestions, or point out any mistakes or glitches. At this point, it's probably easier to let users point out the boo-boos than for me to find them all.

I intend to use readers' contributions and submissions to fill the site, so if you feel like writing up a few favourite PI's, or adding a trivia category (such as listing your favourite local eyes), feel free. And almost anything I've written or said is open to debate. Don't be shy. Take me down a peg or two...

Anyway, thanks in advance for your comments, and I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

This is a toughie. What is a private eye? I'll be rounding up a few attempts at a definition later, but simply put, I'm talking private eyes here. Think gumshoe, shamus, peeper, private dick. He doesn't necessarily have to be licensed, he may consider himself a "salvage consultant" and a "guy that helps people out", he may be a bounty hunter or a troubleshooter or a freelance reporter, but he's generally a freelancer, a loner, an outsider, with an essence of toughness that has more to do with character than how many sailors he can toss out of a bar. And it goes without saying (or it should) that he might very well be a she.

The Private Eye Writers of America, who make it their business to honour excellent work in the genre with their Shamus Awards, define a "private eye" as any mystery protagonist who is a professional investigator, but not a police officer or government agent. Those guys probably know what they're talking about, so we'll use that as a basis for now...you could also check out a few other attempts at a definition in What is a Private Eye, Anyway?

How the Site is Organized
The site has grown (and grown) and we're now somewhere up near 3000 or so pages.. But it's still pretty straightforward, actually, if you pay attention to the link bar at the bottom of every page.From there, you should be able to find whatever you're looking for within a click or two. Or use the search engine.

The main areas of this site are:

  • Private Eyes & Other Tough Guys
    A-L M-Z
    A never-complete listing of private dicks and janes, and other tough guys and gals, listed by character, with appearances in novels, short stories, film, television, radio and other media.

  • Watching the Detectives:
    Television and Made-for-Television Movies

  • What's New on the Site
    A brief look at what's up this issue.

  • Word on the Street: What's New
    Find out about the latest books, videos, films, etc. for sale.

  • Trivia and Trivia

  • Authors and Creators
    This site focuses on private eyes; not, for the most part, on their creators. Still, sometimes an author's work can't really be covered solely by his creations, and an overview is justified. In some cases, they've never created a series character, or their work is so significant that they deserve an overview, or they've created so many damn fine detectives, it's just convenient to list them all by author, as well as separately, by eye. And often, in the cases particularly of foreign writers, they're a stepping stone to a vast new world of literature of which we may not be aware.

  • Thrilling New Detective Fiction
    Yep, short P.I. fiction from new writers. Hell, we even pay now.

  • Web Comics
    We're currently running Detective Fork by Kevin J. Guhlt. In the past, we've run several other favourites, including: Odd Jobs by Timothy Broderick and Femme Noir by Christopher Mills and Joe Staton. If you've got a web-based P.I. strip that could use some exposure, drop me a line.

  • The Hall of Fame
    An ongoing list of the most popular and/or significant eyes, by decade. The decisions of the judge are NOT final. Please tell us your favourites.

  • Bibliography
    A listing of reference books, selected anthologies, periodicals and magazines related to the crime and mystery genre, referred to, and/or used on this site.

  • Eyes on the Prize:
    Awards and Organizations
    A listing of awards and organizations, very much under construction, of prize-winning eyes and relevant organizations.

  • Mystery Links
    Everything from where to order episodes of old TV shows to advice for writers. New links added regularly. A good starting point for a web crawl...

  • Conventions & Fan Events

  • Glossary, and Abbreviations Used On This Site
    Confused? So am I, but maybe this will help...

  • The Staff
    A list of the contributors and other suspects responsible for this site.

  • Awards and Blurbs
    You can't fool all the people all the time, but we managed to fool these people into thinking we know what we're doing...

  • Looking For Trouble?
    Presenting The Thrilling Detective Search Engine. Because you asked for it..

  • Non-Fiction
    Essays, Reviews and Other Stuff. Contributions are always welcome.

  • Help!
    Legitimate requests and lazy buggers who want us to do their work for them. If you can help these folks out, that would be swell.

  • FAQs
    The stuff you're tired of asking and I'm tired of answering.

Sure. Why the hell not? Check out our rates...

In Conclusion...
If you know what I'm talking about (Lord knows, I don't), and understand what I'm trying to say, and maybe even agree, well, come on in, make yourself at home.

Kevin Burton Smith
March 28, 1998

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Drop a dime. Your comments, suggestions, corrections and contributions are always welcome.
"...and I'll tell you right out that I'm a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk."