Cheap Thrills
2000 in Review

Results from the December 2000 P.I. Poll

From December 2000:

Welcome to The Thrilling Detective Web Site Poll.
Generally, we try to poll you on a different topic every month or so,
but as each year draws to a close, we try to look back on it, and see what you think. As always, there were no real winners, or even actual physical awards. The honour (or possibly embarassment) lies in being nominated.

Consider them this site's equivalent of Marvel Comics No-Prizes.

You can vote for anything here, or nominate something else...

For Books First Published in 2000

  • The Randisi-edited The Shamus Game showed what can be done with the short story.
  • Wow, this is tough, a lot of people did stand alones. God, I guess The Sweet Forever.
  • Yeah, The Shamus Game.
  • The Loser's Club by Lise Baker.
  • Perish Twice by Robert B. Parker
  • Jakubowski's On Tenderness Express. It's certainly not flawless, but it's more stretching than the genre's seen in a long time.
  • The Sugar House by Laura Lippman. This one caught me by surprise. It's not hard-boiled, but her P.I.'s got enough attitude to get by.
  • Purple Cane Road. Burke is back!
  • The Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips. Not really a P.I. book, but it comes awful close at times. And it's a damn good read.
  • Necropsie by Hubert Corbin
  • I'm still not that caught up.
  • Jeez, I'm still working on 1999. How can I make an informed decision? All right, I will say that I really enjoyed SJ Rozan's Stone Quarry.
  • Purple Cane Road by James Lee Burke
  • Purple Cane Road, mainly because it was a weak year (judging by what I read).
  • When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro
    -- Art Leo from Portland, OR
  • Elmore Leonard does it again with Pagan Babies!
    (Martin Fenner from England - so bear in mind that publishing dates are different over here)
  • Shame the Devil by George Pelecanos
  • Crazybone by Bill Pronzini is apparently the only PI novel I read in '00 with a '00 copyright. So, it wins this slot by default, even though it didn't have quite the impact for me that the last few Nameless books had. And the best anthology was The Shamus Game, edited by RJR.
  • Only the Wicked by Gary Phillips
  • O is for Outlaw by Sue Grafton
  • A Smile on the Face of the Tiger by Loren D. Estleman (also the only 200o PI novel I read, but it's a corker!
  • Still catching up. Hey, Pagan Babies wasn't a P.I. book.
  • Singing the Sadness by Reginald Hill

For Books You Read in 2000, Regardless of When They Were First Published

  • I finally got around to reading The Big Blowdown and The Sweet Forever by George Pelecanos. I was not disappointed.
  • LA Requiem
  • Served Cold by Ed Goldberg
  • A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton
  • Shooting at Midnight by Greg Rucka
  • The Hand In the Glove by Rex Stout (1937). It's a novel about Doll Bonner, the bit player from the Nero Wolfe series and (as far as I can tell) features the first female PI ever.
  • Even the Wicked by Lawrence Block.
  • I re-read The Maltese Falcon this year. guess what? It still rules!
  • The Same Lie Twice by Ron Goulart. I got it for a quarter. The other three in the series I just HAD to buy from various sources cost me considerably more, but were worth it. How come I never heard of this John Easy guy?
  • Everybody Must Die by Lawrence Block
  • Nightmare Town by Hammett
  • Ohhhhhh, so so many. Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone. I just started the Myron Bolitar novels, Stephan Greenleaf's Beyond Blame. Zen and the City of Angels, Linda Barnes' Flashpoint, Straley's The Curious Eat Themselves. A lotta cool stuff.
  • Darkness Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane
  • A Cold Day In Hell by Steve Hamilton.
  • The Rouge Murders by John Swan. This is the real deal- Canuck noir as hard and bleak as it gets.
  • God is a Bullet
  • California Fire and Life by Don Winslow (Insurance Investigator= Private, eh?)
  • Finally caught up with Block and was quite impressed with Everybody Dies.
  • Death Bed by Stephen Greenleaf, with Dick Francis' Odds Against running a close second.
  • Not a book, but a film. I just saw Bogie in The Big Sleep tonight, and you know what? It just rocks! To the producers of Shaft 2000: THIS is how you make a PI flick.
  • Blind Descent by Nevada Barr
  • Red Gardenias by Jonathan Latimer
  • Concrete Hero by Rob Kantner, Lullaby Town by Robert Crais, The Maltese Falcon by Hammett
  • Gone Baby Gone by Dennis Lehane

For Stories Published in 2000

  • "Screwball" by Max Collins.
  • God, I'm a self-promoting guy, and I only read a few, and I put a whole lotta work into it so "God Bless the Child"  (come on people how can I not pick my own story?)
    Dave from northern New Jersey
  • I'd have to give it to Tribe's "Secret Smile" published right here on Thrilling Detective.
  • Geez, I think all the PI stories I've read have been right here. Probably "The Black Hole of Luck" by Anthony Neil Smith.
  • No particular favourites, but any of Doug Allyn's stories about Ax Axton or Rob Kantner's Ben Perkins stories in EQMM. Or is it AHMM?
  • I've been reading the fiction you've been posting. I'm especially fond of the Jackson Donne story, "God Bless the Child" (Nice homage to Robert Parker!) and the Joseph Angello (With a hard "g") stories. I'm very impressed with the level of quality you've offered so far, and the writers all seem to be from different backgrounds. I hope Joseph Angello ends up in Barnes & Noble in the near future. Just what the world needs: an honest crook. <G>
    (James Winter from Cincinnati)
  • Maybe you should disqualify stories from this site.
    (Hmmm....maybe I should. It's starting to sound a little incestuous...ed.)
  • "God Bless the Child" by David White (submitted by someone in Jersey)
  • "Marking the Boat" by S.L. Rozan. Almost cozyish in the setting (a cruise ship!), but I found it, so help me, captivating.
  • I kind of like the stuff on this site. There also was a Ms. Tree story that I read, but I don't think it was 2000, though.
  • The Ben Perkins story in AHMM.
  • One of John William's.
  • "Whatever It Takes" by Benjamin Schutz in Ellery Queen. I heard about it on this site, and I really enjoyed it. I hope Schutz develops it into a series.
  • "Screwball," by MAC -- although I liked a lot of the stories in The Shamus Game.
  • "Screwball" by Max Allan Collins from THE SHAMUS GAME, edited by Robert J. Randisi.
  • "My Best Fred MacMurray" by Rob Kantner ( He the Man ! )

The Best First P.I. Novel Published in 2000

  • Did I read any first PI novels?  God I'm out of the loop.
  • Lise Baker.
  • As I said, I haven't read a lot of stuff from 2000. Bob Trulove's Street Level shows promise, though.
  • Yeah, Street Level by Truluck.
  • I didn't read any that made an impression.
  • A Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott.
  • Haven't read any of 200's first PI novels yet.

For Films First Released in 2000

  • By default, Shaft. And he's not even really a private eye in this. Not a good sign when the emotional highpoint of a film when a thirty-year old musical theme starts playing.
  • Thin Air (also the worst)
  • Shaft
  • Didn't see any.
  • If there was one worth seeing, I missed it.
  • Even though it was cheap and a bit B-movieish, I thought that Brown's Requiem was a not-half-bad Ellroy adaptation and a damn sight better than Shaft.
  • Brown's Requiem didn't make it here in the sticks 'till 2000, but I somewhat liked it.
  • I wanted to really like both of 'em, but Shaft and Brown's Requiem were both severely flawed. Shaft could have used some of Requiem's edge, and Requiem could have benefitted from Shaft's pumped-up energy. Did anyone see Trixie?
  • Too bad Where's Marlowe was released in '99 -- the more I watch it, the better I like it.
  • The quirky Trixie wasn't totally bad. It wasn't as good as Love at Large, but at least it wasn't embarassing, like Shaft.
  • Charlie's Angels by default. It may have been awful, but it was the only one of the year (I don't count Shaft since it seemed like more of a cop picture than a PI picture to me)
  • Didn't see any, but Unbreakable was kind of a "mystery" movie. I guess.

The Worst P.I. Film Released in 2000

  • Are Charlie's Angels still P.I.s? Though, as bad as this was, it was still miles better than the TV show.
  • The Eye.
  • Charlie's Angels. There was tough competition, but I think Bill Murray was the biggest boob.
  • Thin Air (also the best)
  • Didn't see any (damn, I don't get out much.)
  • Shaft.
  • Shaft. You know a movie's in trouble when the emotional high-point is the rush from hearing a thirty-year theme kick in again.
  • Charlie's Angels (please)
  • Shaft, although he wasn't a P.I. (part of the problem). The second worst remake of a classic of 2000, right after Britney Spears doing "Satisfaction".
    Please. You're scaring me.
  • Well, Shaft wasn't a PI film... I enjoyed it on a "dumb fun" sorta level; at least it got the originals out on DVD at a reasonable price.
  • Definitely Shaft.
  • Charlie's Angels (this is the award it really deserves)
  • Charlie's Angels ( Bad )

For First-Run Shows Televised in 2000

  • Certainly nothing I've seen. Where have all the P.I.s gone? Are there any out there on British TV, maybe, or some American speciality channel?
  • A&E's The Golden Spiders was stretched out too long,, but the cast was great. More, please.
  • Angel
  • What TV shows?
  • Well, it wasn't a P.I. show, but when I was in Toronto on business, I caught an episode of this show about coroners in, I think it's Vancouver, DaVinci's Inquest, with a shady private eye in it that was really good. You're Canadian, Kevin, did you catch it?
    Actually, I did see that episode. It was good stuff.
  • Golden Spiders, but why did they have to pick THAT Wolfe & Goodwin to adapt?
  • Even though it actually started last year, I still think Angel is the best (kinda) PI show running. Of course I might be biased, since I am an ace-number-one Buffy fan. Yeah, I like Buffy. Wanna make something of it, pal?
  • Golden Spiders, I guess. Very little to choose from.
  • I suppose, by default, it would have to be Golden Spiders - the only other one I saw was The Michael Richards Show, which would have made My Mother, the Car look like a PBS offering.
  • C.S.I. , not so much for plots as for the technology.
    Though it wasn't a P.I. show.
  • If we're talking series, The Michael Richards Show gets it by default. If we're including made-for-TV movies I'd say Thin Air.
  • After seeing it mentioned elsewhere on this site, I checked out The Huntress. If you can get it, it's well worth watching. It's not always golden, but it has its moments, especially when it allows itself to get down and dirty. And it's great to see James Remar back in action. Plus, god help me, mom and daughter are both fine-looking women.
  • They should have a PI on The Sopranos.
    Yeah. Average life expectancy -- two commercial breaks.

For The Worst P.I. TV Show First Televised in 2000

  • How bad was The Michael Richards Show? So bad it's not (and wasn't) funny.
  • At least Snoops was funny, even if it was unintentional. The Michael Richards Show is just incompetent.
  • I would say The Michael Richards Show but I've never actually watched it.
  • You have to ask? The Michael Richards Show, of course. In fact, you might want to consider renaming this award after it. Your correspondent Nathalie sure nailed this one. By the way, in case the news hasn't made it across the border yet, it's been officially cancelled.
  • That Richards show thingy.
  • You mean the Michael Richards show is cancelled? I didn't get to see it. It just looked bad.
  • Maybe The Dellaventura Award should be renamed.
  • Another stinky Spenser.
  • I will bow to the popular consensus that The Michael Richards Show sucked. Although I did not actually see it, even the TV spots about it set my teeth on edge.
  • Michael Richards will spend a long time in Purgatory for what he did in 2000.
    Purgatory? Nah, go straight to Hell, boy.
  • I deliberately avoided The Michael Richards Show, but it seems a popular choice.
  • The Michael Richards Show (I never saw it, but who am I to argue with popular opinion)
  • Michael Richards Show (Awful)
  • Deadline is close enough, even though Platt technically played an amateur sleuth.


  • Well, it's a blast seeing Jinx the bounty hunter pop up in the pages in Brian Michael Bendix's Sam and Twitch.
  • The reprint of Detective Comics #1.
  • Web comics like Rock Thrust, which is played for laughs, and Odd Jobs, which isn't, offered the best in P.I. comics this year. It's cool I can read Odd Jobs here now.
  • Can't afford comics.
  • Not a big year for the genre, but Bendis' Sam and Twitch had the feel of P.I., although the characters were cops. Too bad Bendis got fired from it, though.
    He did? I thought Marvel snapped him up for Spider-Man.
  • The Spirit Archives by Will Eisner, published by DC Comics (even if the $50 price tag makes my wallet bleed).
  • Didn't read any.

Besides This One, Natch!

  • Rara-Avis
  • HandHeldCrime
  • Rara-Avis
  • Blue Murder
  • Rara-Avis, Detectoday, Spenser
  • Rara-Avis
  • Hardboiled
  • Plots With Guns
  • Handheld Crime. What a great idea.
  • I'm gonna have to say HandHeldCrime...though I'll admit to a touch of bias here. (Victoria Esposito-Shea from Canton, NY)
  • Rara for talking, Blue Murder and Plots With Guns for reading. This HandHeldCrime sounds good, but I don't have a hand-held.
    (Actually, the stories and everything else are also posted on the web. Vicky would want me to tell you that.)
  • Rara-Avis.
  • Stop youre killing me...
  • This is pretty much the only site I visit regularly in the field.
  • Plots With Guns.
  • Although I generally only lurk, Rara-Avis.
  • Blue Murder
  • Blue Murder
  • Sue
  • Rara-Avis for discussion; Blue Murder for fiction (especially now that one of my stories has appeare there); Mystery writer's Forum for professional tips/news.
  • You guys are the best!

Fiction or Non-Fiction

  • Crime Time, and I have high hopes the the new Aussie mag, The Crime Factory.
  • EQMM
  • Blue Murder
  • Blue Murder, for sure.
  • Blue Murder.
  • Mystery Review
  • EQMM
  • Blue Murder
  • Toss up between Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock.
  • EQMM in print; Blue Murder on the 'net.
  • Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
  • Don't read 'em.

Most Anxiously Awaited P.I. Event

  • Pelecanos' new P.I. novel.
  • The next V.I. Warshawki novel. Will she crack up completely this time, or not?
  • Robert Crais' new Elvis Cole. Will he be able to top L.A. Requiem?
  • The next Elvis Cole novel!
  • Elvis Cole's next case.
  • Another Eyecon.
  • Dunno.
  • The next Nate Heller, Delilah West, and Lydia Chin/Bill Smith novels. Write faster, people!
  • Valin's Stoner.
  • I can't wait to read the new Elvis Cole novel to see how all the stuff in LA Requiem affected him.
  • Robert Crais' new book.
  • The return of: (pick one) Thomas Black, Tom Bethany, Joe Binney, or many others.
  • Time for a new James Crumley - or a decent James Ellroy.
  • The Big Three of the season: Lehane, Pelecanos, and Connelly, all with new stuff at the same time.
  • A good PI movie from a major studio with an A-list cast & crew.
  • The addition of Hairbutt the Hippo to The Thrilling Detective Web Site.
    We're recounting the votes on that one...
  • P is for Peril's release.
  • There's so many! Joe Gores's next DKA novel (6 years since the last); John Lutz's next Fred Carver novel (6 years since the last); Michael Collins's next Dan Fortune novel (6 years since the last);Ben Schutz's next Leo Haggerty Novel (7 years since the last!)
  • The return of Ben Perkins (Please Please), the next Elvis Cole novel.
  • Wish I could take part in your polls, but apparently AOL won't let me.  I did read the results, though, and would like to pass on a message to whoever was asking for new Carver, Dan Fortune or Haggerty novels not to hold their breaths. All are on to new things. There is, however, a Fortune collection--dedicated to *blush*me--from Crippin & Landreau and a Slot Machine Kelly in the works.  Also a Nudger collection. In addition, there's a Delvecchio collection out from Five Star (tooting my own horn). And, Kevin, would you please pass on my thanks to those who had good things to say
    about The Shamus Game? Thanks.
    (Bob Randisi)
    Well, as one of those who loved The Shamus Game, you're welcome, Bob. And if anyone else finds they get an error when submitting, or suspects the e-mail form just isn't working for them, please contact me, or just e-mail your suggestions directly to me at
  • Lehane's next Patrick & Angie book.

What gives you the most hope for the future of the P.I.?

  • All the short P.I. fiction popping up on the web, on all sorts of sites. It's rough, and it's raw, and it's right. I keep telling ya, it's the new pulp!
  • The direction taken by Steve Hamilton, Dennis Lehane, Robert Crais.  Moving
    away from the sensitive PI to darker PIs.
  • The group of talented, commited writers who debuted in the 90s (Harlan Coben, S.J. Rozan, and Katy Munger to name three.)
  • Web-zines (hate the term, though).
  • Sites like Thrilling Detective which show there's still plenty of interest.
  • Writers such as Greg Rucka whose PIs take a lot of grief but give as good as they get.
  • Loose cannons like Pellecanos, Lethem, Paretsky, Burke, Mosley, Shannon, Ellroy and yes, even occasionally Parker, who keep pushing.
  • Sunny Randall
  • To be published on paper the book I am publishing in a web site.
    (Roberto Caramelli from Roma, Italy)
  • Crais.
  • That crime fiction is starting to cross into the mainstream. Don't get me wrong, there's a long way to go, but I think the stigma attached to the field is beginning to lift a bit.
  • Lehane, Crais, Rozan, Shannon, The lady who wrote Zen and the City of Angels (can' t
    remember her name).
    That would be Elizabeth Cosin, who actually was the first person to post fiction on this site, for which I'll always be eternally grateful.
  • Becoming a popular genre in Europe and influencing the writiers there.
  • It's kind of a glum assessment, but the fact that the genre keeps muddling along, despite generally low sales and public disdain.
  • I think more interesting, complex PI characters (less cardboard, less gimmicks) are encouraging.
  • The web.
    (Christopher Mills from
  • All the new writers popping up on the web.
  • More humorous&/or feminine PIs.
    Feminine PI's? Does that mean sissies, or just women who refuse to wear pants?
  • The growing number paying markets for short fiction on the 'net.
  • Crais.
  • The fact Dennis Lehane and George Pelecanos are writing about them.

Most depressing P.I. trend.

  • Romantic schlock trying to pass itself off as a mystery.
  • Poorly-written adolescent sex and revenge fantasies passed off as "noir" classics.
  • Gimmick eyes. Not just romance eyes, but dinosaur eyes, celebrity eyes, vampire eyes, former members of Seinfeld eyes...YUCK!
  • Female PIs with dogs that do nothing for the plot (although it was a good read after reading James Patterson yuck)
  • New writers who try too hard to be deep, sensitive, hard-boiled, or funny (Dennis Lehane).
  • Books focusing on the PI's personal life rather than on a case.
  • Touchy-feely PIs.
  • P.I.'s that are really dinosaurs. (Okay not exactly a "trend" but still stupid.
  • Furry creatures and PIs who don't drink.
  • Long books. Sometimes there's a good reason for a three- or four-hundred page book, but mostly it's just editorial laziness, and very few people can write that long and make it work. Also, historical PI novels.
  • Italian crime fiction writers.
    -- Roberto Caramelli from Roma, Italy
    Aw, come on, Roberto, it can't be that bad, can it? What about yourself?
  • Sloppy Romance novels with aimless cozy plots disguised as PI stories.
  • Mr. Depressing, sensitivity/women P.I.s.
  • Stories that value cuteness over reality or plot.
  • Still hanging on to an older idea of what PIs do, the old loner gumshoe.
  • Too much reliance on technology and not enough on good, old-fashioned gut instinct.
  • Characters being too bitter about life.
  • Lack of PI television series.
  • Writers who leave off good series to write crummy standalones.

If they can revive stuff like Lost in Space, The Fugitive or Mission Impossible
in big bucks, big screen versions, why don't they bring back some of those old P.I. shows for the silver screen? So...Any suggestions?

  • Yeah, I'd love to see a character-driven remake of Harry O.
  • Ten-Speed and Brownshoe, with the original cast.
  • A big screen version of Vengeance Unlimited, with Michael Madsen.
  • I've never seen it, but Peter Gunn because you need a cool theme to be revived.
  • Travis McGee.
  • Not having seen it, I can't speak for "Lost in Space," but the movie versions of "The Fugitive" and "Mission: Impossible" are two excellent reasons NOT to bring them back. Is there some kind of rule that the movie must completely miss the point of the original tv series? Evidently the main qualification for writing a script for the big screen version is never having seen the series.
  • Ten Speed and Brown Shoe (Just kidding)
  • Yes, Honey West.
  • Mannix, The Rockford Files
  • The Rockford Files
  • Peter Gunn
  • Rockford
  • Peter Gunn
  • I'll go with Peter Gunn. I think the time's right for the suave, well-dressed, jazz-loving, martini-drinking eye to make a comeback.
  • 1) Mr. Lucky; 2) Highway Patrol; 3) Car 54; 4) 77 Sunset Strip.
  • Nancy Drew.
  • Mannix.
  • Before my time as far as TV, but I'd watch a new Philip Marlowe movie.

...and if they do bring it back , who should play the private eye?

  • Harrison Ford as Harry O. He's got the grimace-in-pain-but-keep-on thing down pat, and he's already proven he can do David Jansen, in The Fugitive.
  • John Goodman as Frank Cannon.
  • Sandra Bullock as Honey West.
  • Linda Fiorentino as what's-her-name in Leg Work.
  • Travis McGee: Kurt Russell?
  • Tommy Lee Jones as Travis McGee in one of the later stories such as The Lonely Silver Rain.
  • Bill Pullman as Mannix, Dennis Quaid as Jim Rockford
  • Kevin Spacey as Rockford
    Hey, I could see that! So off-the-wall it might work.
  • Tom Selleck as Peter Gunn
  • John Cusack as Rockford.
    Hmmm...or maybe Richie Brockelman.
  • Brian Deheney as Lew Archer.
  • Burt Reynolds as Spenser. At least he's the right age.
  • Russell Crowe
    Does Brooks Brothers make suits THAT big?
  • George Clooney as Peter Gunn (but only if directed by Steven Soderbergh, i.e. Out Of Sight)... actually, that could be kinda cool.
  • 1) Pierce Brosnan in Mr. Lucky; 2) John Goodman in Highway Patrol; 3) Steve Martin & Robin Williams in Car 54; 4) Kevin Costner in 77 Sunset Strip.
  • Rachel Leigh Cook as Nancy Drew
  • Mel Gibson as Joe Mannix; Halle Bery as Peggy Fair: Alec or Daniel Baldwin as Lt. Tobias; Scott Glenn as Lew Wickersham.
    This sounds almost do-able. Have you heard they're thinking of doing 77 Sunset Strip with Harrison Ford, Bill Murray and Leo diCaprio? Now if only they can dump Leo...
  • Bruce Willis as Philip Marlowe.

Biggest Disappointment

  • The new Shaft, The Eye, The Michael Richards Show, etc., etc. Can't Hollywood do a private eye without screwing it up?
  • The cancellation of the Blue Murder Crime Scene.
  • That Lehane didn't publish in 2000.
  • Bill Pronzini's Crazybone. No substance at all.
  • Another year without Stoner.
  • The last Janet Evanovich novel. It dances far too close to the afore-mentioned "Romance novel" thing for my comfort. I hope this was just a temporary quirk.
  • Robert Crais' new book (did care for new character, though)
  • Again, Shaft. Thank God the original is cheap on DVD.
  • John Straley's latest.
  • The direction the Sharon McCone series has taken.
  • The demise of Colin Dexter's Inspector Morse.
    But not exactly a P.I., is he?
  • Cancellation of the BLUE MURDER convention.
  • Shaft, Charlie's Angels, The Michael Richards Show.
  • Demolition Angel

Most Nauseating Cover Design

  • Where do I begin?
  • Any cover featuring a gun, a bottle and a guy in a trenchcoat.
  • Bad clip art pretending to be illustrations. Over-sized typography better suited to the over-sized menu of a trendy restaurant that serves over-priced bad food.
  • My annual gripe: author's name bigger than title, with both filling the whole damn cover.
  • Didn't really see any I hated.
  • Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen (though I think that's the intention).

Private Eyes You'd Most Like To Have a Pint With, and Why

  • Nick Charles. He's rich, and he probably wouldn't get in trouble with his wife for staying out late. Hell, he'd probably bring her along.
  • Spenser, I'd learn about beer that way.
  • Cuddy.  He's just a nice guy.
  • Spenser. He knows his beer.
  • Lionel Essrog because you never know what he's going to say.
  • Milan Jacovich, just to ask him how's things in back in my old hometown.
    -- James Winter
  • Spenser -- he'd buy.
  • Lydia Chin. Not only is she neat, she doesn't drink, which makes her an instant designated driver.
  • A few years ago, I would have said Elvis Cole, but he's going through a dark and brooding phase. Now, I'll have to say Zen Moses.
  • Elvis Cole, Patrick Kenzie, Spenser: funny, irreverent, interesting.
  • Tom Bethany. Our politics are pretty much the same.
  • Zen Moses. She likes the booze.
  • Max Latin. Closing time never comes when you own the joint!
  • Dave Robicheaux, to pick his mind about his ghost obsessions.
  • Kinsey Millhone or Stephanie Plum -- such cool women.
    -- Tracy Elke from MN
  • Amos Walker, another guy living his crime-fighting fantasy. He wanted to be Phil Marlowe; I wanted to be Eliot Ness.
    -- Jim Doherty from Chicago, IL
  • A Stroh's and a cork tipped cigar with my man Ben Perkins who like the rest of us has work, bills, family and personal problems to deal with.
    -- Paul Tarantino from Naperville, Illinois
  • Patrick Kenzie 'cause he's so damn sexy.

Private Eye You'd Least Like To Have Move Next Door, and Why

  • Mike Hammer. Keeps shooting the paper boys, claims they're Commies.
  • Spenser and Susan. The damn dog whines all night, and all that jogging makes me tired.
  • I'd least like to see Sunny Randall.  I'd hate to have to clean up all that dog crap.
  • Patrick Kenzie. I'd constantly see/hear him taking a beating. On second thought, I'd pay to see that.
  • Any of 'em, actually. I mean, look at all the dreadful things that start happening; you get thugs in the neighborhood, bombs, shootings, beatings....
  • Amos Walker. Just not a very nice guy. I'd hire him in a second, though...
  • V. I. Warshawski She's gotten pretty venomous in the later novels....
  • Burke. The dog excrement alone would drive me nuts.
  • Bubba Rodgerowski (Lehane sidekick) for obvious reasons.
  • Matt Scudder. Nothing more annoying than a reformed sinner.
  • Vachss' Burke.
  • Frank Cannon, all those gormet dishes, and the deliciously tantalizing aromas floating around the neighborhood all the time.
  • That pinko twerp Moses Wine. He probably voted for Clinton for all the reasons I voted against him.
  • Patrick Kenzie because Bubba might come visit.

These Two Would Just Not Get Along...

  • V.I. Warshawski and Amos Walker
  • Mike Hammer and Lew Archer
  • Burke and anyone.
  • Scudder and Stefanos.  One drinks the other... drank?
  • Myron Bolitar and Joe Pike. I picture Myron trying to get a laugh out of Joe, and getting nothing but Pike's mouth twitch.
  • Kinsey Milhone and Amos Walker
  • Mike Hammer and Sharon McCone
  • Gil Disbro and Tom Bethany. Can you hear everyone say "Who?".
    No, I could see that. It'd be right up there with The Anthony and Kevin Show, which airs on Rara-TV occasionally.
  • Burke and Spenser.
  • Cannon and Gunn - the Odd Couple of the PI world.
  • How about the quietly professional Continental Op and the overwrought Race Williams?
  • Kinsey Millhone and Stephanie Plum; runner up to Sneaky Pie and Elvis Cole's cat.
    (Carrie Pruett from Virginia)

P.I. Classics Too Long Out of Print

  • James Reasoner's Texas Wind.
  • Where are all the early Cuddy novels?
  • Gault's Brock Callahan series.
  • The Jacob Asch series by Arthur Lyons.
  • Michael Collins' Dan Fortune books.
  • Forget, Callahan, bring back Joe Puma!
  • Some of those old pulp eyes should be collected and reprinted. Hugh B. Cave's Peter Kane is just not enough. What about Jo Gar or Carrie Cashin or Max Latin or Violet McDade or even eyes from the digests like Slot Machine Kelly or Ernest Savage's guy.
  • The John Easy books by Ron Goulart. Definitely one of the great lost eyes of the seventies.
  • All the books by Fredrick Brown.
  • The first several Nate Heller books (though STOLEN AWAY, at least, is coming back) and the first several Delilah West books. Makes it much easier on those of us who tend to read series backwards.
  • Michael Collins' Dan Fortune novels.
  • Thomas Dewey's Mac books.
  • I'll go with the obvious. Texas Wind.
  • I would have said the Dave Brandstetter books, but someone told me some gay/lesbian press has started reprinting them.
  • Bring back Jo Gar!
  • Anything by James M. Cain (Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, etc.).
  • Texas Wind and the Chet Drum series.
  • Who else ? The Ben Perkins series.
  • Ones I probably haven't read.

Non-P.I. Writers Who You'd Like to See Take a Crack at the Genre

  • Well, Stephen King has been threatening for years to write a straight private eye story, and Umney's Last Case wasn't a bad short story, so...
  • Ian Rankin
  • Mordecai Richler. He gets the streets of Montréal down like nobody else. Duddy Kravitz, P.I., anyone?
    (Kevin from -- where else? -- Montréal)
  • John Irving might offer a pretty hilarious and twisted spin on a Ross Macdonald-type tale about a tragedy-prone family.
  • Elmore Leonard.
  • Richard Price, until I saw Shaft. Ian Rankin would be cool to see.
    Yeah, though supposedly Samuel Jackson tore apart Price's script and rewrote it himself, so it's hard to know who to blame. Price's last two books, Clockers and the other one, are very solid slabs of crime fiction. Maybe he should chuck Hollywood and just write great books (unless, of course, he's working with/for Scorcese).
  • Bill Clinton. I hear he'll have some free time soon. And he is a fan of the genre.
  • Stephen King.
  • Peter Straub.
  • John Ridley. Damn good crime writer, but would like to see him tackle a PI.
  • John Grisham. The plots would be so twisted that you'd have to sit down for fifteen minutes after you finished reading. Too bad he killed off Lomax in The Firm.
  • Tom Clancy (anything under 300 pp. would be nice, Tom).
    (Frank Walters Clark, alias Jazzbo, from a mystery-laden, sleepy little town called St. Petersburg, FL)
  • It might be interesting to see Tom Clancy write a techno-thriller with a PI lead instead of a CIA-type.
  • I think Elmore Leonard would be outstanding.
  • Michael Connelly doesn't technically write PI books; or if you mean non-mystery writers, what about writer/director Kevin Smith?
    Like I don't have enough problems with him trying to cash in on my name? (Actually, it might be funny...Silent Bob, P.I.)

The Biggest Hype You'd Like To See Done Away With

  • People shamlessly plugging their own short stories in polls.  (Hey, wait a
  • PI Vietnam vets.
  • Anything involving Sue Grafton.
  • Any blurb that compares the P.I. character to Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. Or any blurb that contains the word "noir" or "gritty." Especially when it turns out the blurb writer has never read Chandler or Hammett, and couldn't find "noir" or "gritty" if you gave him a dictionary.
  • The Anthony Awards. Essentially People's Choice Awards for the tea-and-cozies set.
  • Reviews by's Number 1 critic. Couldn't they find someone who could at least write, if they couldn't find someone who could read?
  • All of it, really. Publish the books, let people read 'em and judge 'em on their own merits, and be done with it (which, in a perfect world, is what would happen anyway.)
  • Any cover blurb that says: "The successor to Hammett (Chandler, MacDonald, etc....)". That drives me up the wall.
    Yeah, even the late, great Charles Schulz had Snoopy making fun of that one. I should try and find those strips.
  • Over-priced trade paperbacks.
  • Overly-long books. Most P.I. stories don't need 400 pages, and even 300 is often pushing it.
  • Self-published books. Sure, a few may be great (and I've even read a few that are), but let's call a spade a spade. It's called a vanity press for a reason. Most are amateurish and poorly-edited.
  • Women P.I.s
    --Diane Lake from Machesney Park, Illinois
  • The idea of a modern detective with a traumatic war experience. As the U.S. gets farther from its last real war, it makes you wonder just how old some of these guys are. (Spenser was in Korea, for example).
    -- Joe Howe from Huntsville, Alabama
    Yeah, I could do without those Gulf War sob stories, myself. Gosh, that carpal tunnel syndrome is a real bummer, huh?
  • Gimmick event books. Connelly's detectives meet! Ed McBain writes a novel with himself! I like the books, actually, but they feel a bit plastic to me.
    (Neil Smith from the Mississippi Gulf Coast)
  • Movie production companies coming out with trailers that have media types and critics hyping the movie before it's released to the paying public. After all, we make the determination as to whether a flick is good or bad, not the media.
    Nope, actually we just determine if it's popular or not, but I know what you mean.
  • Hard-Boiled female PIs introduced with some comment about how Grafton, Paretsky, Muller, etc., had better start looking over the shoulders. That's starting to get as old as the "in the tradition of Hammett/Chandler/Macdonald."
  • Harlan Coben is constantly being mentioned in the same sentence as Robert Crais and Dennis Lehane - WHY???

(Or at this point, your favourite gift that you did receive, or that you wish you HAD received... and here's my own list of suggestions...)

  • Spiral by Jeremiah Healy.
  • Honey West. Here, now!
  • To read a lot of detective stories.
  • Yeah! Time to read! (And Honey West to turn the pages!)
  • DVD of The Big Sleep with Bogie.
  • A DVD of Murder My Sweet. The complete set of Black Lizard's Lew Archer
  • The trade of Nightmare Town.
  • A TV eye that doesn't suck.
  • Gift certificates to book sites and book stores.
  • The Sopranos DVD set. Fantastic!
  • Dr. Death- it doesn't sound appropriate but I'd have loved to get it.
  • I finally got to see James Caan's turn as Marlowe in Poodle Springs; now that only leaves Dick Powell in the TV version of The Long Goodbye, Danny Glover in TV version of "Red Wind," and Phil Carey in the short-lived TV series.
  • This has nothing to do with PI's, but I got some great Eddie Bauer slippers.

Make up your own damn questions!

  • Who are you?
    Indeed, who are any of us? But if you mean me specifically, I have a bio on the Staff page, as well as the bios of the rest of my motley crew.
  • PI in most need of immediate retirement or execution. My picks: Kinsey Millhone and Spenser. I loved them at the begining, but now, they just bore me. Sorry guys, it's time to turn in your licenses.
  • Most annoying anti-violence rant by a PI right before he/she kicks someone's ass?
    (submitted by Neil Smith from the Mississippi Gulf Coast)
  • Best Appearance by a PI in a Long-running, Non-PI series (My vote goes to "Woody" Woodhaven," narrator of Honest Doubt by Amanda Cross)
  • Best writer to complete Hammett's unfinished novel The Secret Emperor?: Joe Gores.
  • Best writer to do another novel-length Marlowe pastiche?: Loren Estleman
  • PI series fantasy couple
    - i.e., Kinsey Millhone and Joe Morelli.
    (submitted by Carrie Pruett)

Further Comments, Suggestions, etc.

  • Obviously I have to give most of these more thought, not to mention check some copyright dates, but could you please clarify something? One of the questions says "For Books You Read Last Year, Regardless of When They Were First Published." By last year, do you mean 1999? Or do you mean 2000, figuring most people won't see this until after the holidays? (Sorry, I'm not trying to be a nitpicker, just
    want to make sure I look at the right list of books read.) (Jan)
    Damn, you're right. I AM an idiot. I've fixed it. --editor.

  • I'm still waiting for a really great PI read. In the meantime, I'll read Westlake, Connelly and Pelecanos who are all great but not really PI writers.
    (Darwin from IceSleetNSnowLand Brrrr!)
    But they all have been, and will be again, I hope. And Pelecanos actually has a new P.I. book coming in a month or two.

  • Obviously, this typo thing is contagious (I think I caught it from Kevin). Rex Stout's novel which I cited in the beginning of the survey is, of course, The Hand in the "Glove", with a G, not The Hand in the Love. Oops.
    (Victoria Esposito-Shea from Canton, NY)
    Hey, don't worry about it, it might have been a transcription error on my part. Shti happens.

  • The year 2000 was rather a disappointing year and like music, seemed to suffer from the blaahs. Maybe an off year means a new creative burst for detective and mystery fiction. I wasn't happy with Demolition Angel but the word on Robert Crais' new book for 2001 looks like it'll be a good one (though no Elvis cole) and Dennis Lehane (without Patrick and Angela) has a new one looking good. Was happy our guy who never disappoints, James Lee Burke, came out with another good one to salvage the year 2000.
    (Diane Lake from Machesney Park, Illinois)

  • What a letdown of a year. Everyone spun their wheels, delivering so-so entertainment we'd all seen before, for the most part. The biggest rush was checking out some of the new voices on such sites as Blue Murder, Plots With Guns and HandHeldCrime. The web may yet be the salvation of the genre.

  • Not to sound like a suck-up or anything, but thanks once again, for providing the best site for the mystery genre on the net.
    (Joe Howe from Huntsville, Alabama)
    Thanks, Joe. The cheque's in the mail...

  • Please, please, PUH-LEEEZZE, Mr. Parker, don't let Spenser move back in with Susan. I just read Double Deuce, and, while I liked most of the book, I wanted to slap both Spenser and Susan for living out every bad comedian's lame act about men and women. Yeesh! If my marriage was remotely like that, I'd hire Hawk to do me in. My sympathy went to the dog, who had to watch that.

  • Thrilling Detective looks better than ever!
    (Jim Dougherty)

  • Your website keeps getting better & better.

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