The Best Private Eye
of the Nineties (so far)

Results from the April 1998 P.I. Poll

EDITOR'S NOTE:
This was our very first poll, and when I originally asked the question, I included this short bit:

"More specifically, I guess what I mean is the best private eye active in the nineties.
List your five favorites, and feel free to comment on your choices. And don't limit yourself to series heroes or even books. Eyes from film, television and any other media are also welcome."


From April 1998:

Well, the results of the very first P.I. Poll are in. Sixty-one of you voted, although not everyone listed five eyes, and some of your nominations were too much of a stretch, even for me, to be considered private eyes. A vote is a vote. No extra points for first place. Of course, this is not really a listing of the best; it's a popularity contest. You don't have to tell me that.

According to your votes,
the Best Nineties Eyes are:

Matthew Scudder by Lawrence Block (32 votes)

Elvis Cole by Robert Crais (18)

Easy Rawlins by Walter Mosley (14)

Kinsey Millhone by Sue Grafton (14)

Nameless by Bill Pronzini (14)

Spenser by Robert B. Parker (14)

Sharon McCone by Marcia Muller (12)

V.I. Warshawski by Sara Paretsky (11)

Thomas Black by Earl Emerson (10)

John Marshall Tanner by Stephen Greenleaf (9)

 John Francis Cuddy by Jeremiah Healy (9)

Dave Robicheaux by James Lee Burke (8)

Amos Walker by Loren D. Estleman (8)

Pepe Carvalho by Manuel Vazquez Montalban (8)

Patrick Kenzie & Angie Gennaro by Dennis Lehane (8)

Harry Stoner by Jonathan Valin (7)

Nate Heller by Max Allan Collins (6)

Burke by Andrew Vachss (6)

The Runners-Up (Five Votes or Less)

Kate Brannigan by Van McDermid

Ben Perkins by Rob Kantner

Lew Griffin by James Sallis

Streeter by Michael Stone

Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich

Carlotta Carlyle by Linda Barnes

Ivan Monk by Gary Phillips

Gordianus by Steven Saylor

Daniel Kearney & Associates by Joe Gores

Wyatt Storme

Other Write-Ins

Toby Peters by Stuart Kaminsky

Bernie Gunther by Philip Kerr

Laura Principal by Michelle Spring

Aaron Gunner by Gar Anthony Haywood

Milan Jacovitch by Les Roberts

Jeri Howard by Janet Dawson

Mongo by George C. Chesbro

Cooper MacLeish by Sam Reaves

Nick Sharman by Mark Timlin

Harry James Denton by Steven Womack

Will Hardesty by Richard Barre

Tom Bethany by Jerome Doolittle

Morgan Hunt by Geoffery Norman

Milo Milodragovitch by James Crumley

C.W. Shugrue by James Crumley

Grijpstra & De Gier by Van de Wetering

Neal Carey by Don Winslow

Leo Waterman by G.M. Ford

Myron Bolitar by Harlan Corben

Nick Stefanos by George Pellecanos

Mike Hammer by Mickey Spillane

Simeon Grist by Timothy Hallinan

Jake Lassiter by Paul Levine

Archie McNally by Lawrence Sanders

Comments

Well, first of all, I'm blown away by the response. Secondly, there's some interesting changes since Robert Randisi's very thorough 1997 PI Survey. His poll was conducted via e-mail on rec.arts.mystery, a newsgroup that covers the entire mystery genre, while (I'm assuming) most of the visitors to this site tend toward the traditional, male-dominated hardboiled end of the spectrum, which may explain why McCone, Warshawski and Millhone didn't fare quite as well as in Randisi's poll. Rec.arts' audience no doubt features many non-P.I. readers who may, nevertheless, read Grafton, Paretsky and Muller, but might not read (or wouldn't be caught dead reading) a male P.I. And evidently a lot of you guys really don't like Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum.

Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder lead the poll from the very beginning, and most of the rest of the top finishers more or less paralelled Randidi's list. I was pleased to see Stephen Greenleaf's Tanner do so well, glad to see Spenser hanging in there (even if the last few books have really not been that well-received) and very surprised that the critically-acclaimed up to here eyes of James Crumley barely even made it on to the list.

It was also great to see that one of my personal favorites, Rob Kantner's Ben Perkins, hasn't been forgotten. Evidently, there are more than a few of us out there hoping he'll return.

Whether Dave Robicheaux qualifies as a P.I. or not remains an open question. Evidently enough of you believe he does to place him near the top of the list.

Unfortunately, I was a bit vague in specifying the criteria for a P.I. of the 90's, and thus many people took it to mean a series written in the nineties. Therefore, votes for retro eyes were also accepted. The top retro eyes, then, were:

Easy Rawlins by Walter Mosley

Nate Heller by Max Allan Collins

Gordianus by Steven Saylor

Toby Peters by Stuart Kaminsky

Bernie Gunther by Philip Kerr

Several series have been going on for years.
The top five top long-established eyes (say, um, published pre-1990) are:

Matthew Scudder by Lawrence Block

Elvis Cole by Robert Crais

Kinsey Millhone by Sue Grafton

Nameless by Bill Pronzini

Spenser by Robert B. Parker

and the top five "new" eyes
(first appearance in 1990 or later)

Easy Rawlins by Walter Mosley
(although Easy's almost an "old" eye now)

Patrick Kenzie & Angie Gennaro by Dennis Lehane

Kate Brannigan by Van McDermid

Lew Griffin by James Sallis

Streeter by Michael Stone

Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich

and the Hang-In-There, Baby Award goes to

Mike Hammer by Mickey Spillane

(I'm not sure if those who voted for Hammer were doing so because of the TV show, or his one novel in the nineties, but it's still nice to see him in the list. Maybe Mickey will be encouraged to start writing again.)

Anyway, this was our first poll, and I had a lot of fun with it.
Evidently, some of you did, as well. Check out some of the participants comments .
And while you're here, why not vote in this month's poll.

And don't forget to drop by often. There's new stuff happening all the time, and your comments are always welcome.

For Voter's Comments


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