Hall of Fame
I've listed these eyes by the decade in which they first appeared, even though an eye's career may span more than one decade, or even not make much of mark for several years after their first appearance.
They're counted for their quality, entertainment value, reflection of their times, influence on the genre and, honestly? Whether I liked them or not.
By the way, this list is very much a work in progress...Feel free to contradict me, or suggest your own favourites, by contacting me.
Let There Be Light: The Real Deal
The Pulps and Beyond
Apres la guerre
Under the Hammer
The introduction of Mike Hammer in the late forties and the rise of a zillion pulpy and mostly inferior imitators and the paperback industry that fostered that rise may have seemed to be all encompassing at the time, but in retrospect, some of the most interesting eyes were moving the genre ahead, allowing for a little more social and cultural awareness.
'Cos the Times, They Are A-Changin'
The Renaissance (1): Everyone into the Pool
The Renaissance (2): Come On In, The Water's Fine
The eighties are when I really became interested in private eye fiction, and I'll probably always have a weakness for the era. It was certainly an exciting time for the genre, particularly the series P.I. There were so many great series launched in the seventies that were just really hitting their stride about then. Pronzini, Parker, Block, Hansen and the like had already demonstrated there were plenty of new ways to use the genre, and in their wake (and perhaps at least partly inspired by them, or at least by Parker's commercial success) a whole bunch of new voices (Grafton, Paretsky, Mosley, Burke, et al) entered the genre in the early eighties. In retrospect, I can see that when the slew of non-pale males and other fresh voices began to pop up all over the genre, it was not so much a big shake-up as a logical progression to what had been going on in the seventies (and arguably, the sixties as well).
Of course, some of the other older writers (and older fans whose sole qualification for a P.I. was seemingly whether they could imagine Bogart playing them in a film or not) began to resent the success of Parker and some of these other uppity newcomers who were tinkering with the form. But the genre would probably be a quaint museum piece by now, appreciated only by collector geeks, or relegated to the men's action racks (over there by the skin mags), if it hadn't seen such a vigorous renewal and growth spurt in the late seventies/early eighties.
Sisters (and Everyone Else, It Seems) Are Doing It For Themselves
Or is it "The Noughties"?
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 that likes to talk."