REVOKE THEIR LICENSE!
WHO'S THE P.I. MOST IN NEED OF EXTINCTION?
- That dinosaur P.I. (yes, I'm still picking on him)
- Sharon McCone
- Kinsey Millhone (I didn't make it to "E")
- I think Spenser needs to cash in his Keogh and fly
off to the Bahamas.
- Jake Asch (Lyon's attitude to women was dated and
obnoxious when he first started, now it's just contemptible).
- I have to agree with Victor (that damn dinosaur), but also
Kinsey Milhone. The alphabet? Gee, thanks. Get to "Z
is for Zzzzz" already.
- Stone Barrington--for the love of God and all that's
holy! Please put an end to this!
- Kinsey Millhone wears thin on me...
- That's an easy one: Spenser.
- Michael Stone's Streeter.
- V. I. Warshawski.
- Spenser and Kinsey Millhone. I don't think
Parker and Grafton even care
anymore. Have 'em both die and put everyone out of their misery.
Hmmm, you sound more miserable than either Spenser or Kinsey....
- Mike Hammer. I hate to say this on the evidence
of only one book, but Mickey Spillane's Black Alley was
a major disappointment. It seemed tired, and water-down; lacking
the fierce conviction that has always marked the Mike Hammer
series. Indeed, I was sometimes suspicious that the whole book
had been ghosted by other hands. There're rumors of completed,
but unpublished Hammers in the Mick's drawer, including one (supposedly
intended to close out the series) in which Hammer and Velda finally
get married. If there not any better that Black Alley,
perhaps they should just be left in the drawer.
(Jim Doherty from
- Remington Steele
- V.I. of course. Vicky doesn't think like a real person,
let alone a Dick.
- Mike Hammer
- Shell Scott
- Nameless--I've read a couple of those books. He is
way too soft to qualify as a hard-boiled PI. His endless moralizing
and worrying grates on readers' nerves.
- Spenser. It's time to hang it up, bud.
- Spenser...enough is enough already.
Gee, maybe it's me. I still kinda like the guy.
- Spenser - I loved the early books, but this is a seriously
- Nate Heller. Will Max Allan Collins let him live long
enough to have him find out who killed JFK?
MOST VILLAINOUS P.I.?
- Mike Hammer
- The P.I. in the Coen Brother's Blood Simple is right
- TV's Angel (especially during Season Two's very dark
- Amos Walker. He's just plain rude. But hey, it works,
- Horace Dorrington of Dorrington and Hicks (I may supply
you with a full write-up if I have time, think Tom Ripley in
Victorian London with a PI practice)
somewhere in England)
Yes, please do!
- Karch from Void Moon.
- Ditto on the PI from Blood Simple.
- Johnny Double
- Mike Hammer
- Karl Craven in Solomon's Vineyard is a pretty
- Mike Hammer and Amos Walker villainous? What
dictionary are you getting your definition of "villainy"
from? Villains hurt and kill the innocent and defenseless. They
lie, cheat and steal for totally selfish and self-serving purposes.
Walker's a bit of
a smart-ass, but so was Phil Marlowe, and if Hammer's
well-known penchant for graphic, larger-than-life dragon-slaying
makes him a villain, then it does the same thing for Beowulf,
Hercules, and Samson. For *real* villainy, you'd have to go a
long way to beat Tom Horn, a Pinkerton operative on the
western frontier during the 19th Century. Although he accomplished
many heroic deeds in his amazingly eventful life, it was after
he left the agency, and went into business for himself that he
descended into criminality. Ostensibly, he hired out as a "detective."
Actually, he'd degenerated into a contract killer. Although he
was an historical figure, I feel justified in naming him because
he's been used as a fictional character so often (notably in
Will Henry's novel I, Tom Horn and in one of Steve McQueen's
last films, Tom Horn).
- Mike Hammer
- Mike Hammer
- Gotta be the Blood Simple guy.
- Hammer tends to bend the rules a bit but then again
Scudder breaks guys legs in back alleys.
- Probably one of those cutesy cat P.I.'s - you can't trust
- Mike Hammer
BEST NON-AMERICAN P.I.?
- Sherlock Homles . . . a classic.
- Cliff Hardy by Peter Corris.
- Cliff Hardy.
- Whitfield's Jo Gar
- Hector Belascoarán Shayne by Paco Ignacio Taibo
- Sid Halley by Dick Francis.
- F. M. Angel by Mike Ripley.
- Sherlock Holmes
- Um.... Sherlock Holmes, poster boy for cocaine use.
- Okay, guys, I get it. But Holmes isn't really a P.I.,
at least not in the way I mean for the purposes of this poll.
He's in a class by himself. Or is it just you can't think of
- John Baker's Sam Turner (Poet in the Gutter)
- Poirot, of course.
- Marcus Didius Falco
- Sir Henry Merrivale--except he's not technically a
Then technically, what's the point?
- I'm with Kevin on this. Although Sherlock Holmes and
Hercule Poirot are professional private detectives, and
their importance to the mystery genre is
undeniable, they are not "private eyes" as that term
is understood on this site. And when the Jo Gar stories
were first being written and published, the Phillipines were
still US territory, so Jo, technically, was an American citizen.
The clear choice is Dick Francis's Sid Halley, who is
the only PI character (indeed the only series character of any
kind) to star in two novels that won the Edgar for Best Novel,
and the only series character to have every single novel in which
he is featured nominated in that category.
- Who cares?
I do, you isolationist bonehead. :-)
- The Kinkster. Texas ain't America is it? Pour that
down yer neck.
from Kamloops, BC)
- Sherlock Holmes
- Benie Gunther. No question.
- He ain't a PI but he's still the best...Sherlock Holmes.
Yeah, yeah, yeah...but he "ain't a P.I."
- Hector Sloan - Paco Ignacio Taibo has become a personal
- No such thing.
(Scott Lueck from
Mount Horeb, WI)
Gee, coming from such a cultural Mecca as Mount Horeb, Wisconsin,
you'd think Scott would be more widely-read and informed...
MOST IMPROBABLE P.I.?
("improbable" as in "unlikely")
- Did I mention the dinosaur?
- Charlie's Angels. I just can't see that much jiggle.
(Not that I'm complaining about it.)
- Lew Griffin (I like the books, but the university
professor thing strains credulity)
- Miss Marple.
But she's not a P.I.
- Sunny Childs in the Ruth Birmingham series--sorry,
but I just cannot willingly suspend my disbelief.
- The dinosaur one, although I haven't read him.
- To the extent he's a sidekick -- Bubba from Lehane's series.
- Barnaby Jones
- Wait! That's no dinosaur, that's Amos Walker!
- Actually, Myron Bolitar is pretty improbable, if you
think about it. I try
not to, though.
- Shell Scott --but you've gotta love the stories!
- Charlie's Angels
- That pain in the ass broad from Murder She Wrote.
- Dan Fortune, even though I love him. How has he stayed
alive so long?
- Richie Brockelman
- Sydney (the Valerie Bertinelli one)
- Scooby Doo.
- Spenser hasn't been paid for a case in years - with
his appetities he should have starved to death by now.
- Valentino This is why my film history professors used
teaching assistants. They were too busy solving crimes.
MOST PREPOSTEROUS P.I.?
("preposterous" as in "Were they out of their
- Hmmmm . . .how's this different from improbable.
Good question, Victor. Go to the head of the class. I guess
I take "improbable" to mean "unlkely" (yeah,
as if), within the realms of possibility, and preposterous to
mean "far-fetched" (are you friggin' out of your mind?)
- Michael Richards. Who else?
- That ****** dinosaur book.
- Well, I'm thinking an extinct reptile in a suit of human
shaped flesh...I mean, which editor liked this idea again? I
have a PI Turnip I'd like to try.
- The dinosaur.
- That Anonymous Rex book...
- Captain Janeway, er, I mean, Mrs. Columbo...
- Anything that has to do with animal detectives. (cats, dogs,
- Ed Noon
- Super-Snooper. Aside from the ludicrous idea that
a cat would take a mouse as his partner, whoever heard of wearing
a deerstalker with a trench-coat; that's even sillier that wearing
a snap-brim fedora with an Inverness cape.
(The always fashion-conscious Jim
- That pain in the ass broad from Murder She Wrote.
Well, you may be an isolationist bonehead, but at least you're
- Toby Peters. Mr. Peelers is soooo unlikely, but fun
- Any broad from VIP
- Jeff Bridges ?!?!
- Anonymous Rex
BEST ARMED P.I.?
- NOT Rockford.
- Matt Murdock. Makes Hammer look like Hilary Clinton.
- Amos Walker. The luger and his legal piece.
- Mallory (Carol O'Connel's series)
- Joe Pike.
- Elvis Cole -- Pike IS primarily a walking weapon.
- Some might disagree, I'd say Hammer.
- Chester Drum
- You'd have to go a long way to find a better-armed op than
Carroll John Daly's pioneering Race Williams. A matched
set of ultra-powerful .44 revolvers, a Thompson submachine gun
strategically hidden in his ritzy bachelor pad. And didn't his
car come equipped with bullet-proof glass? And Williams's virtually
identical predecessor, Terrence Mack, wasn't called "Three-Gun
Terry" for nothing.
- Philip Marlowe
- Joe Pike always seems prepared.
- Three Gun Terry
- Mike Hammer
Is he that well-armed, or does he just shoot a lot?
- Mack Bolan...well...he's well-armed anyway.
- Mike Hammer. Of course, it was easier to get a .45
THE MOST ANNOYING ANTI-VIOLENCE
RANT BY A P.I.,
RIGHT BEFORE HE/SHE KICKS SOMEONE'S ASS,
OR OTHER HYPOCRICAL RANTS?
(suggested by Anthony
- Travis Magee on his tarnished armor right before going
to save a pretty girl (But would we have it any other way?)
- Dave Robicheaux
- Sara Paretsky on sexual stereotyping, when she's incapable
of creating an admirable male character who isn't asexual.
- Most of the Scudder and Robicheaux books these
last few years--"I knew I shouldn't resort to violence,
but I saw red, was in a rage..." Oh give me a break and
kick tail, all right?
- Kenzie had a bunch of those didn't he?
- Probably something by Lew Archer.
- Can't think of any specifics, but I seem to recall Spenser
engaging in this
kind of behavior on a regular basis.
- Are there any that aren't annoying? Dennis Lehane's character,
Patrick Kenzie, dealing with a race riot by running around
town shooting off a .44 AutoMag while agonizing about black/white
relations in Boston comes immediately to mind.
- No answer yet, but will write back.
- There was that Spenser/Hawk thing, but it's happened
so often that I've forgotten the titles. Well, maybe the one
when they offed the pimp collectors. Nope, can't remember the
title of that one either.
- Patrick Kenzie in Gone Baby Gone--"At
a very early age, just as the child of an alcoholic swears he'll
never drink, I swore to guard against the advance of the red
marble, the cold blood, the tendency toward monotone. Choice,
I've always believed, is all that separates us from the animals."
Yeah, well Kenzie should also know that only humans are consciously
- Uh, hmm....
- Gotta be Spenser.
- Take your choice of any Spenser book.
- Matt Scudder
WHAT CONTEMPORARY AUTHOR'S
BEST DIP THEIR TOES
INTO DASHIELL HAMMETT'S SHOES?
Doherty and Barbara
- Joe Gores.
- A new one. Henry Spain in the recently published The V8
Ford Blues by Gordon Donnell.
- Joe Gores or Joseph Hansen. Gores for the short
stories, Hansen for the novels.
- Walter Mosley
- James Winter (Oh, you mean PUBLISHED author!), Stephen
King or John Grisham.
(James Winter from
- George Pelecanos
- Fassbender & Pascoe (Ben Drake), Joe Gores
(DKA), John Shannon
- I'd give Rozan a try, I don't know why, just seems
interesting, and she's
the best female PI writer out there right now.
- August Riordan from The Immortal Game -- Hell,
he's even from San Francisco!
- I'd say good old John B. MacDonald, and more lately Larry
Brown, and Bentley Dadmun.
Huh? Who? Who?
- When I read SJ Rozan's Stone Quarry, I swore I was
witnessing the resurection
of the Continental Op. It was that good.
- Stephen Greenleaf is the best of them all at present--surpassing
Hammett, Chandler and Ross Macdonald.
- Clearly it's Joe Gores. One of my fervent hopes is
that the uncompleted Hammett MS, The Secret Emperor or
the discarded first attempt at The Thin Man (or, better
yet, both) will someday be given to Gores to complete, the way
Robert B. Parker finished Chandler's Poodle Springs.
- Walter Mosley, he seems to create mood like Dash could.
- Dip toes? The fuck is this? Central Perk?
Central Perk? What is this, a fucking Maxwell House commercial?
- Have to go with Max Allan Collins.
- Loren D.Estleman.
- Larry Brown domestically, Taibo internationally.
- Walter Mosely
IT'S HAMMER TIME!
WHO BEST CARRIES ON THE SPILLANE TRADITION?
- Robert B. Parker and James Ellroy's love child
- Loren D. Estleman
- Max Allan Collins
- Mark Timlin (I wish there weren't any)
- The rum-soaked bad-ass Z.Z. DelPresto (from the novella
"To the Devil, My Regards", on sale at Blue Murder).
I'm tellin' ya, NO ONE comes closer.
- Burke seems close.
- Jack Ritchie
- Lehane. Actually, I like Lehane a whole lot better
- Richard S. Prather--but with the humor and especially
the slapstick comedy that nobody else has ever carried off in
print. Otherwise, who cares?
Evidently we do, since we asked the question (and you answered
- Max Allan Collins in his comics work (e.g. Ms. Tree,
Mike Mist, Mike Danger). In prose, Rob Kantner and Wayne
Dundee, with their unabashedly blue collar attitudes and
their signature .45s, both come to mind.
- Darren Subarton
(Suggested by Darren
Subarton from Brooklyn, NY)
- Ellroy could if he ever woke up. He could do the Hammett
- Except for Burke, I think all the psycho sidekicks
qualify for this one!
- Burke. No question.
- Frank Miller, in his excellent graphic novel series
Sin City...you don't have to be into comics to appreciate
In fact, you don't even have to read -- you just have to like
- I must not be well-read - I didn't think anyone did.
- Loren Estleman
THEY WERE MADE FOR EACH
P.I. FANTASY COUPLE
(Suggested by Carrie
- Magnum P.I. and Jessica Fletcher . . . ha,
just a joke.
- Mike Hammer and V.I. Warshawski. They wouldn't
get along, but they'd understand each other.
- Lydia Chin and Bill Smith.
- Nameless and McCone --they're both turning
soggy and flacid at the same rate.
- Milan Jacovich and Kinsey Millhone. They're
loners. They'd get along great being apart.
- PI meets Golden Age love match - Helen Keremos and
(Gladys Mitchell's) Beatrice Lestrange Bradley.
- Nick Stefanos and Zen Moses.
- Spenser and Sunny Randall, they're exactly
alike... oh wait...
- Dave Brandsetter and Mike Hammer.....it could
And it explain's a lot about Hammer....
- Dan Turner and Mavis Seidlitz.
- How about Richard S. Prather's Shell Scott and the
character specifically designed to be his female counterpart,
G.G. Fickling's Honey West?
- That pain in the ass broad from Murder She Wrote and
Saddam Huisein (spelling is off)
- Patrick Kenzie and Angie Genarro
- Joe Leaphorn (now that he's retired from the force)
& Carlotta Carlyle!
- Mr. & Mrs. North
- Nick and Nora Charles
- Bill Smith and Lydia Chin--when are they going
to give in to their throbbing passions?!
Ah, yes, the Sam and Diane of P.I. fiction....just what we
- Kinsey Milhoney and Lew Archer. Sure, it's
a May-December thing, but they're both in the right place (fictional
Santa Theresa), and hey, Archer needs a little light in his life.
Ya know, I could see that. And we already know she has a thing
for older guys...
- I'd like to see Jim Rockford kick Spenser's
ass and steal away Susan Silverman.
Nah, not Jim's style. He'd more likely scam Spenser somehow...
- Honey West and Shell Scott
BEST SUPPORTING CHARACTER
IN A P.I. SERIES
(Suggested by Keith
- No contest: Mouse in the Easy Rawlins series.
- Hawk still rules.
- Joe Pike, Elvis' bud.
- Beth Cuddy in Healy's John Cuddy series.)
- Minnie, from Jochem Steen's Milano series.
- Brigid Logan in the Atticus Kodiak series by
- Meyer, Travis McGee's buddy. an oldie, but goodie.
Remember when sidekicks weren't sociopaths?
- Win (in the Harlen Coban series).
- Lydia Chin or Bill Smith, depending on which
book you're reading.
- Joe Pike.
- Mick Ballou. The only man that could make Mouse
- Probably Velda. What loyalty! She's been kidnapped,
shot, abducted for years, but always punches back in, ready for
- Mouse is the all-time best. Although I must say I'm
really beginning to like
Steve Hamilton's Leon Prudell and I' think I am in love
with Bridgett Logan
- Captain Daniel Von Flanagan
- I've always thought that Al Collins's casting of real-life
super-cop Eliot Ness as the Bernie Ohls/Pat Chambers/Dennis
Becker figure in the Nate Heller series was inspired.
- Jim Rockford's dad, Rocky.
- Cletus Purcell
That's a good one. In fact, sometimes I wish Dave was
- Gotta be Pike! Even more than Hawk!!
- Lt. Trench (Anthony Zerbe) in Harry O
- Big Cyndi--Myron Bolitar's 6'6" 300 lb. secretary/she-monster.
Coben never gets tired of writing wisecracks about her. I think
some of his funniest lines are the ones about Big Cyndi.
- Angie Gennaro. Since the series is narrated by Kenzie,
she gets the supporting role.
- Archie Goodwin in the Nero Wolfe books.
- Am I wrong, or is Velda the only woman in Mike
Hammer's life who didn't die a violent death?
(Suggested by Terry Beatty)
- Watching the Detectives, of course, by Elvis Costello.
- Stranger in Town by Del Shannon. Always makes me think
of that eye in Blood Simple, who someone else mentioned.
- Peter Gunn Theme (Do instrumentals count?)
Hell, why not?
- Tie: The themes from Shaft and Peter Gunn.
- The Continental Op by Rory Gallagher.
- Elvis Costello's Watching the Detectives.
- Private Investigations by Dire Straits.
- How about "Best P.I.-inspired dance number" too?
That's coming up in our all-dancin' Broadway issue. Bring
- Theme from Shaft.
- Private Investigations by Dire Straits.
- What's that Chris Issac song, "Wicked Game"? Man,
everytime I hear those guitar riffs, I think about a PI walkin'
down those mean streets. The lyrics aren't irrelevant, either.
- Scooby dooby doo, where are you....
- I like Dire Straits' On every Street. EveryBreath
You Take has a nice
noir quality as well.
- Marlowe's Theme from Farewell, My Lovely.
- Henry Mancini's The Peter Gunn Theme if instrumentals
are allowed. True Detective, as performed by the comics
convention rock group Seduction of the Innocent, if lyrics
- The Rockford Files Theme
- Song? Or Album? I suggest Charlie Haden Quartet West:
- Harlem Nocturne (from Mike Hammer) or
the 77 Sunset Strip Theme.
- Peter Gunn
- A little noir ditty: Twilight Zone by Golden Earring.
- The Rockford Files Theme.
- Private Investigations by Dire Straits.
- Watching the Detectives
WEIRDEST P.I. GENRE CROSS-OVER
- Private Eye Dean Murphy in his soon to be released
Three On a Light, a combination of the hardboiled detective
and horror genres from Silver Lake Publishing (YES, this is a
shameless plug. I'm a bad, bad boy.) But only if by "weird"
you mean "good."
- P.I. hunks in romance novels: an idea whose time has come,
and I wish would just go away.
- That ****** dinosaur book.
- Gun With Occasional Music by Lethem.
- The Tourettes' thing seems really weird to me, but that's
just because I haven't read it yet, I'm sure.
Hey, that one's by Lethem, too, though that one's actually
not really a crossover, just a rather unusual eye. It's also
a kick-ass book.
- Lancelot Link, chimp detective.
Hey, I thought he was a spy chimp, not an eye chimp!
- I think the stuff going on in Angel right now is pretty
weird. I specially
liked the recent "zombie killer-cop" episode.
- Sam Space
- There's a book called Once Upon a Murder by Bob Randisi
and Kevin D. Randle which crosses the PI genre with the medieval
fairy tale. Honest to God. It seems a modern-day PI has some
sort of psychic connection with a heroic prince in fairyland.
When the PI is seriously wounded in an alleyway shootout, and
the warrior prince is hit by an arrow on a medieval battlefield,
they suddenly switch places, Quantum Leap style, and each
has to continue the other's adventure. Now THAT'S weird!
- Anoymous Rex
- John Munch (Homicide: Life on the Streets,
SVU) on The X-Files.
- Sherlock Holmes and Dracula
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
- Ms.Tree and Mike Mauser.
- Marid Audran, the Islamic future P.I. in George Alec
Effinger's Budayeen series (in this case, weird means good).
- Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (the original book, not
necessarily the movie.)
YOUR COLD, COLD HEART:
WHO'S THE P.I. EVERYONE ELSE SEEMS TO LIKE,
BUT YOU'VE NEVER WARMED TO? AND WHY?
- Spenser . . . maybe because I knew him through TV
before the novels.
- Patrick Kenzie. Possibly because the books seem assembled
from a genre Indentikit, instead of actually written.
- I can't say I never liked Kenzie. I did at first,
but in the last three books, he's so full of himself.
- I can't, for the life of me, warm up to Hammer. Psychopaths
just don't do anything for me.
- Lauren Laurano (the authorial voice is too damn annoying,
and she's such a safe, non-threatening lesbian)
- Spenser and Kinsey.
- Tres Navarre--I just don't get it.
- Wil Hardesty. Boo-hoo-hoo. Repeat.
- Burke. The opening pages of the first one made him
seem a whole lot like Batman. He even had his own Burke-Mobile.
- Spenser. Anyone who would take up with Susan Silverman
is a chump.
- Since someone else mentioned Wil Hardesty, I'll throw
in Myron Bolitar. He's not a PI, for God's sake, even
though everyone (including PWA) seems to think he is. He's an
amateur sleuth, people, a frickin' sports agent. And he's way
too impressed with his own cleverness.
- Hammer first and foremost. He was too much of a mouth-breathing
dragger and never did any actual investigating. Second is V.I.
Warshawski. I don't mind politics in PI stories and I consider
myself rather liberal, but she's far too shrill.
(Bryan English from
- Dennis Lehane. Rapidly becoming the Robert Ludlum
of detective fiction.
- Spenser, because he's a Philip Marlowe wannabe
with a New England pallor. Robert B. Parker is a pretentious
and vastly-overrated writer.
Well, at least Parker keeps his pretensions down to a manageable
length. If only some of his contemporaries could take the hint.
- Any P.I. that's cozy/softboiled. It's a cold world and you
need to be packing heat-- nice guys finish last with dry dicks,
and there's no room for pussy-footing around when you're dealing
in the realm of do-dirty and crooked cops.
- Has to be Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawski. Characters
like Kinsey Milhone or Delilah West manage to be
tough while still retaining some basic femininity. Warshawski,
on the other hand, comes across like nothing so much as Mike
Hammer with tits and a shrill left-wing agenda.
- Kinsey Millhone
- Mike Hammer - it needs no explanation.
- Thorn--I keep hearing James W. Hall is one of the
best of the Florida hard-boiled writers, but I've just never
taken to Thorn. I think it's because I keep comparing Hall and
all other Florida writers to the legendary John D. MacDonald.
The original will always be the best.
- Mike Hammer. I am not amused.
- Kinsey Milhone...do I really have to tell you why?
Because you've never read her?
- I just don't get Burke, sorry.
- Yeah, I have to agree. Nasty, yes. Violent, yes. Even viscious,
maybe. But Andrew Vachss's Burke is also almost child-like
in its characterisations and motives.
- Kenzie and Genarro. "Hey, it's a new book. What
should my character and personality be this time?" The Robert
Ludlum of P.I. fiction.
- Nero Wolfe. Rex Stout should have ditched the obnoxious
snob and just written novels about Archie Goodwin.
HOW WILL FICTIONAL P.I.S
ADAPT AND CHANGE
IN THE NEW CENTURY?
(Suggested by Anthony
- "They'll have kick-ass web pages."
- "Some of them may actually learn to use computers, instead
of hiring young black kids to do it (Scudder and Nameless,
- "It's strange that some of the best writers (insert
your favorite here) still feel forced to include "the fight
scene" or "the shooting." That's just how these
scenes read today, as if they were inserted. I think the hard-boiled
attitude will survive, but new P.I.s will show toughness without
office fistfights or midday shootouts."
(Gerald So from
- "I think we'll be seeing more and more variations on
the standard, morose pale male in L.A. If variety is the spice
of life, I hope you guys like it hot."
- "I think we'll see a lot more hackers, a lot more PI's
using the web to track down information, a lot of them using
services like Lexus-Nexus. They'll still need to pack heat, ask
a lot of questions, and do leg work. They just won't be as reliant
on the obligatory friend in Motor Vehicles/credit bureau/police
dept. with access to FBI records. It'll be at their fingertips,
legally and/or illegally."
(James Winter from
- "As law enforcement becomes more and more overtly privatised,
politically-aware PI novelists will have more and more scope
for marvellous work (but then, I'm just an old-fashioned pinko)."
- "I'm thinking we have to see P.I.s doing what real P.I.s
do nowadays instead of the movie idea we're carrying around from
the 30s. Also, I think the pattern will get stale if we don't
have more morally conflicted PIs who are more apt to get things
wrong sometimes. Toss in some instability. Pelecanos' Stefanos
is a trailblazer in this area, I think."
(Anthony Neil Smith)
- "I think cell phones and beepers will play a big part,
as well as the internet. I read an article on MSNBC a few
months ago wondering if because of the internet if PIs would
be extinct. I wish I still had the link... it was pretty
interesting. Of course, the article said the net was unreliable
and PIs would still be in need, but I think the net is a valuable
asset to any up and coming PI."
(Dave White from
Actually, any real P.I. worth his gumshoes has been using
beepers, cellphones, computers and the internet for years and
years; certainly long before most fictional private eyes even
noticed their existence, never mind actually used them. It's
sad that a genre once praised for its contemporary realism sometimes
seems stuck in the past of an old Bogart movie or a Magnum P.I.,
- "Hopefully, they'll get their noses out of their navels
and put some action back in their business. I suppose they'll
have to start using cell phones and laptops to maintain their
credibility. Just don't let it get the way of the action!"
somewhere between Muncie and a hard place.)
- "I'm kind of hoping they don't. Computers and the Internet
won't take the place of applying shoes to pavement and doing
the heavy lifting."
from Columbus, OH)
Well, I don't think computers will ever totally replace totally
the legwork, and I wouldn't want them to, but no writer laying
a claim to authenticity (once one of the genre's strengths) should
have his or her P.I. pretending the technology doesn't exist,
or worse, boasting that he or she doesn't know how to use it.
that's unrealistic in this day and age.
- "Noir will never die. The grit just accumulates with
the years, and hard-boiled sits well in any era, as has been
proven with Bladerunner, and the look and feel of The
(Timothy C. Phillips
from Birmingham, "The Magic City")
- "More technology. We'll probably actually see a PI with
a computer and a cell phone. I also think that the "lone
wolf" blue-collar type will go the way of the photostat
license. Fictional PI's will increasingly resemble their real-life
counterparts: educated, big agencies and/or law firms and a lot
of corporate and industrial tech-related skullduggery. I, for
one think there is a lot of potential in this kind of thing and
very few authors are exploring it. Most of them are resorting
to the same 60 year-old cliches."
- "I think more and more writers will, to avoid the technology
issue, simply set their stories in period. In other words there'll
be a proliferation of what Kevin calls "retro-eyes."
To illustrate, Sue Grafton announced in the forward of her most
recent Milhone entry, that Kinsey will never advance beyond 1986,
specifically so Ms. Grafton can avoid things like the Internet
and cell phones. I guess that makes Kinsey a
- Read "A Vague Implication" by Darren Subarton.
- "Danged if I know! Maybe there will be a return of real
Noir and less of this sensitive, whiney, self indulgent stuff
that passes for hard-boiled fiction these days. One can hope..."
(Norm from Kamloops)
- "Well, the first thing they'll do is realize that it
already is the new century and know that means they've got 99
more years before they have to take this kind of insipid grad
school question seriously."
(Paul Bergin from
Ah! Jaysus, Kev! You know where I'm from. Now, as to where I'm
goin' . . . )
I think that's in Florida...
- "I've gotta add something to what I said earlier. I
realize a lot of technology is going to creep into the stories.
I already have one in the can where the PI mentions trying to
look busy when a client walks in on him playing Solitaire. But
please, for the love of God, don't let them whip out their Palm
Pilots when they're doing the actual legwork. I work in IT, and
those things are the most annoying devices, esp. in meetings.
Please don't torment the readers with them. (Yes, Kevin, I'm
up waaaay past my bedtime.)"
(James Winter from
Annoying or not, Palm Pilots are part of our world now. And
at least people don't --or at least usually don't-- talk out
loud to them in the middle of a crowd.
- "Yes, every one needs that Paladin, seeker of Truths,
Righter of Wrongs, no matter when or where. So yes the P.I. will
always be there in one form or another.'
from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)
- "I'm hoping the PI's will ditch their psycho sidekicks
and take matters into their own hands again. Take Myron Bolitar.
He relies on Win waaay too much. The last time I remember Myron
winning a fight was in the opening pages of "Deal Breaker,"
the first book. From then on, he always called on Win when the
going gets tough. For all Spenser's other faults, at least he
gave payback to the bad guys. Calling in a henchman is what the
bad guys do!
Professional killers (and the like) are not the only good sidekicks
out there. Take Travis McGee's maverick economist, Meyer, and
Morgan Hunt's crusading lawyer, Nat Semmes, for example. Sidekicks
don't always have to be back up. Like Meyer and Semmes, sidekicks
can be used to introduce plot elements to the stories. Bury the
psycho sidekicks next to the Dr. Watson wannabes (the cozy equivalent
of the hard-boiled sidekick). Please."
(Marcus Lindy Sortijas
- "I think most of the PI conventions need to be tossed
out (or at least given a thorough cleaning). PIs are just working
stiffs like the rest of us, not boozy, skirt-chasing loners with
.45s and fedoras. And give the snappy patter a rest! (Although
I have to confess, onfession: Amos Walker is one of my favorites!)"
(Graham Powell from
- "Personally, seeing the fictional PI resort to using
computers and cell phones in lieu of real leg work would be pretty
boring. The more things change the more they SHOULD stay the
same. I like my fiction hard-boiled not silicon-grilled."
from Lynden, Ontario)
- "Hopefully, they will start gunning down those who talk
loudly on cell phones in public. Seriously, they will adapt to
changing technology and start using computer tricks to replace
that "source at the phone company", etc."
(Joe Howe from
- More technology, of course.