Thrilling Detective Web Site March-April 2001



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....
  • Spenser
  • 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 There're rumors of completed, but unpublished Hammers in the Mick's drawer, including one (supposedly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 Chicago)
  • Remington Steele
  • Spenser
  • 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 tired series.
  • 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 up there.
  • TV's Angel (especially during Season Two's very dark arc).
  • Amos Walker. He's just plain rude. But hey, it works, don't it?
  • 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)
    (Philip Eagle, 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 cold S.O.B.
  • 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).
    (Jim Doherty)
  • Shaft
  • Burke
  • Hammer.
  • 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 a cat.
  • 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 II.
  • 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 any others?
  • John Baker's Sam Turner (Poet in the Gutter)
  • Poirot, of course.
    Of course?
  • Marcus Didius Falco
  • Sir Henry Merrivale--except he's not technically a P.I.
    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.
    (Jim Doherty)
  • Who cares?
    I do, you isolationist bonehead. :-)
  • The Kinkster. Texas ain't America is it? Pour that down yer neck.
    (Norm Westbrook 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 favorite.
  • 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. Please...
  • 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
  • Spenser
  • 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 friggin' minds?")

  • 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...
    Huh?
  • Anything that has to do with animal detectives. (cats, dogs, dinosaurs, etc.)
  • 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 Doherty)
  • That pain in the ass broad from Murder She Wrote.
    Well, you may be an isolationist bonehead, but at least you're consistent. :-)
  • Toby Peters. Mr. Peelers is soooo unlikely, but fun nonetheless.
  • Any broad from VIP
  • Spenser
  • 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.
  • Burke
  • 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.
    (Jim Doherty)
  • Philip Marlowe
  • Joe Pike always seems prepared.
  • Three Gun Terry
  • Mike Hammer
  • 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 back then.

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 Neil Smith)

  • 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 evil!
  • 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?
(suggested byJim Doherty and Barbara Skoglund)

  • 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 Godforsaken Cincinnati)
  • 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.
  • Pelecanos
  • 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 will.
  • 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.
    Thanks, Z.Z.
  • Burke seems close.
  • Burke
  • Jack Ritchie
  • Lehane. Actually, I like Lehane a whole lot better than Spillane.
  • 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 it).
  • 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 thing too!!
  • LAPD
  • 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 it.
    In fact, you don't even have to read -- you just have to like black ink.
  • I must not be well-read - I didn't think anyone did.
  • Loren Estleman

THEY WERE MADE FOR EACH OTHER:
P.I. FANTASY COUPLE

(Suggested by Carrie Pruett)

  • 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 work.
    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)
    (Darren Subarton)
  • 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 need...
  • 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 Logan)

  • No contest: Mouse in the Easy Rawlins series.
  • Hawk still rules.
  • Bubba.
  • 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 Greg Rucka.
  • Meyer, Travis McGee's buddy. an oldie, but goodie. Remember when sidekicks weren't sociopaths?
  • Win (in the Harlen Coban series).
  • Hawk
  • Lydia Chin or Bill Smith, depending on which book you're reading.
  • Joe Pike.
  • Mick Ballou. The only man that could make Mouse afraid.
  • Probably Velda. What loyalty! She's been kidnapped, shot, abducted for years, but always punches back in, ready for more.
  • 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
    Who?
  • 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 the sidekick!
  • Gotta be Pike! Even more than Hawk!!
  • Lt. Trench (Anthony Zerbe) in Harry O
    Yes!
  • Hawk
  • 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.
  • Hawk.
  • Asta.
  • Am I wrong, or is Velda the only woman in Mike Hammer's life who didn't die a violent death?

FAVOURITE P.I.-RELATED SONG?
(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 it on!
  • 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 are required.
  • The Rockford Files Theme
  • Shaft
  • Song? Or Album? I suggest Charlie Haden Quartet West: Haunted Heart.
  • 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 knuckle
    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 Cheney WA)
  • 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.
    (Darren Subarton)
  • 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 Neil Smith)

  • "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, for example)."
    .
  • "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 New York)
    .
  • "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 Godforsaken Cincinnati)
    .
  • "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)."
    (Philip Eagle)
    .
  • "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 Rutgers, Jersey)
    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., rerun.
    .
  • "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!"
    (Darwin from 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."
    (Steve Miller 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 Matrix."
    (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."
    (Bryan English)
    .
  • "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
    retroactive retro-eye."
    (Jim Doherty)
    .
  • Read "A Vague Implication" by Darren Subarton.
    (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 Godforsaken Cincinnati)
    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.'
    (David Smith 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 /Bluefox808 from Hawaii)
    .
  • "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 Shreveport, LA)
    .
  • "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."
    (Jim Collins 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 Huntsville, Alabama)
    .
  • More technology, of course.


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