Cheap Thrills
The Year 2001 in Review



THE BEST P.I. BOOK AWARD
For Books First Published in 2001

  • Right As Rain, by George Pelecanos
  • Right As Rain by George Pelecanos
  • Crumley's The Final Country
  • Cons, Scams & Grifts by Joe Gores
  • The Orange Curtain by John Shannon
  • Right as Rain by Pelecanos
  • Echo Burning by Lee Child. Where the hell did this guy come from? He's like a land-locked Travis McGee!
  • The Orange Curtain by John Shannon
  • All White Girls by Michael Bracken
    (suggested by Michael Bracken from Waco, Texas)
  • Closing Time by Jim Fusilli
  • The Orange Curtain by John Shannon
  • All White Girls by Michael Bracken
  • The Dangerous Road by Kris Nelscott
    Actually, that was last year. Smoke-Filled Rooms, the second in the series, came out this year.
  • Right as Rain - George Pelecanos
  • Hope To Die by Lawrence Block
  • Crumley's The Final Country.
  • Crumley's The Last Country.
  • Rat City by Curt Colbert.
  • A dog-shit year for P.I.s.
  • Right As Rain by George Pelecanos
  • Toss-up between Angel in Black by Max Allan Collins and Cons, Scams & Grifts by Joe Gores.
  •  

THE OTHER BEST P.I. BOOK AWARD
For Books You First Read in 2001, Regardless of When They Were First Published

  • Down By The River Where The Dead Men Go, by George Pelecanos
  • Le der des ders by Didier Daeninckx. Thanks, Kevin. I've had this on my shelf for years, but your comment on Rara prompted me to pull it down and finally read it.
  • Cocaine and Blue Eyes by Zackel (classic. '78, I think.)
  • Hugger Mugger by Robert Parker, Pretty Ballerina by John Wessel, The Concrete River, The Cracked Earth and The Poison Sky -all by John Shannon
  • The Big Switch by Jack Bludis
  • Dead Lock. Probably Paretsky's best work.
  • Desert Look-Bernard Schopen, Death Of A Dude-Rex Stout, The Nightmare File-Jack Livingston, Stone Quarry-Sj Rozan, Burning March-Neil Albert, Woman Who Married A Bear-John Straley, Dirty Money-Steven Womack & Max Collins' book about Roswell & UFO's
  • Die Trying by Lee Child
  • Potshot by Robert B Parker.
  • See above. No one touches Crumley.
  • Solomon's Vineyard by Latimer.
  • The Wrong Case by James Crumley (Holy crap . . .my kind of book!)
  • Michael Collins' Castrato. Some of those strident, wouldbe-feminist writers should shut up and read this. A brave take on the whole macho creed.
  • The naked detective. Not, a 'best,' just best of the piles.
  • Every Bet's a Sure Thing by Thomas B Dewey.
  • Blood Work by Michael Connelly.

THE BEST P.I. SHORT STORY AWARD
For Stories Published in 2001 (and please list where they appeared)

  • Graham Powell's "Still Water" (Blue Murder)
    Hey, that was OUR story!!! We just get no respect...
  • "Carole On Lombard", Mystery Street (written by ???)
    That's a Nick Polo tale by Jerry Kennealy
  • "Avenging Miriam" by Peter Sellers (not really a P.I. story)
  • "Memento mori" - Christopher Nolan in Esquire. His brother did the film.
    Actually, ity was the other way around -- Jonathan did the story, Christopher adapted it and directed the film.
  • "Crip and Henrietta" by Tim Wohlforth, Plots with Guns
  • "Last Kiss" by Tom Sweeney, in Mystery Street.
  • "Remember" by James McGowan, July's Plots With Guns
  • "Memento Mori " by Jonathan Nolan
  • "Carole on Lombard" by jerry Kennealy, in Mystery Street.
  • Don't read 'em--best mystery fiction is novels or novellas.
    (Michael Spexarth, from the west coast).
  • "Pinch Hitter," by Max Allan Collins, Murderers' Row.
  • "Strangers in Town" by Ross Macdonald, ap previsouly unpublished Lew Archer short which finally appeared in the Crippen & Landry collection of the same name.
  •  

BEST P.I. SHORT STORY COLLECTION
Published in 2001

  • Mystery Street
  • Mystery Streets edited by Robert Randisi
  • Fortune's World by Michael Collins
  • Long Live the Dead by Hugh Cave
  • Three on a Light by Victor Gischler (Silverlake Publishing)
  • Fedora: Private Eyes and Tough Guys, edited by Michael Bracken
    (suggested by Michael Bracken)
  • Randisi, Mystery Street.
  • Mystery Street.
  • Zero. The best collections are from the forties and fifties.
  • Strangers in Town by Ross Macdonald with Kisses of Death by Max Allan Collins a close second.  

BEST P.I. NON-FICTION OR REFERENCE WORK
Published in 2001

  • The History of Mystery - Max Allan Collins
  • History of Mystery by Max Allen Collins (wow)
  • Don't read 'em.
  • My Name's Friday by Michael Hayde (obviously it concentrates on DRAGNET, but also spends a lot of time on Webb's pre-Dragnet PI work like Pat Novak and Jeff Regan)

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
The Best First P.I. Novel Published in 2001

  • Robert Truluck (Street Level)
  • The Dangerous Road-Kris Nelscott****Already a classic!
    Maybe, but it was published last year.
  • Bob Truluck, I guess by default. Were there any other great debuts in 2001?
  • Again . . .Rat City.
  • Haven't read any of 2001's first novels yet.

SLIM PICKINGS: THE BEST P.I. FILM/TV SHOW AWARD
For Films/Shows First Released in 2001

  • Where there any?
  • Ironically, I almost forgot Memento.
  • The Curse of the Jade Scorpion. But slim pickings is right when the best the genre can do is a Woody Allen farce. Still, it was good fun...
  • Memento - if you say he's a PI, I say he's a PI."
  • Memento. Not only one of the few P.I. (well, sort of) films this year, but simply the best for many a year.
  • I would say Nero Wolfe, but I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.
  • Memento - most definitely.
  • Memento
    (Although David Lynch's Muholland Falls had that Nancy Drew appeal)
  • Memento (counts as a P.I.?).
    Told you pickings were slim... but yeah, he's supposed to have been an insurance investigator.
  • Very slim, indeed.
  • Memento
  • Best film: Memento, Best TV: Nero Wolfe.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
The Worst P.I. Film/TV Shows Rele
sed in 2001

  • "The Michael Richards Show"
    Ouch...
  • I can't think of any that really stank, but it's hard to believe that there were so few!
  • There were too many spy shows. But PIs?
  • Probably the video of the Charlie's Angels movie, though maybe it's not fair to slam it since it got more than its share of pans after its 2000 theatrical release.

DRAWN THAT WAY
BEST P.I. COMIC BOOK or GRAPHIC NOVEL OF 2001

  • That Batman Elseworlds tale, where Commissioner Gordon becomes a private eye.
  • Tie: Daredevil (written by Brian Michael Bendis) and Detective Comics (written by Rucka)
  • Rucka's Detective Comics.
  • Odd Jobs.
  • Detective Comics, definitely. Besides the introduction of Rucka's conflicted bodyguard, Sasha, a great, great character (imagine guarding Bruce Wayne!), the back-up feature by Ed Brubaker dragged Slam Bradley, the original comic book P.I., kicking and screaming into the present. More, please!
  • Femme Noir.
  • Gotham Noir.

BEST MYSTERY MAG, WEB SITE, E-ZINE, LIST-SERV or NEWSGROUP
Fiction or Non-Fiction, In Print or On-Line Besides This One, Natch!

  • Ellery Queen.
  • Plots With Guns
  • Plots With Guns
  • Plots With Guns
  • Plots With Guns
    (Anthony Neil Smith from Mississippi)
  • DetecToday
  • HandHeldCrime
  • Blue Murder (sadly, no longer publishing)
  • Crime Scene
    Never heard of this one. Tell us more!
  • DetecToday
  • Mine (hehe) Kpatrickglover.com
  • Januarymagazine.com writes some good mystery reviews from time to time.
    Yeah, they do, and crime editor Jeff Pierce seems to be back in the saddle, which is even better news.
  • Judas and Plots With Guns.
  • Besides Thrilling? You mean there are others?
    Okay, Victor, the cheque's in the mail...
  • Chandler, Hammett sites.
    Yeah, but which ones?
  • EQMM

HOW MUCH LONGER?
Most Anxiously Awaited P.I. Event

  • The new (last?) "Nameless" by Bill Pronzini
  • The return of Benjamin Schutz.
  • Pelecanos said that Stefanos will make an appearnce in the novel to follow Hell to Pay, so that's worth the wait.
  • The return of Peter corris' Cliff Hardy series to North American stores.
  • Next? Tanner book from Greenleaf, a new Joe Binney work from the late Jack Livingston , more from James Sallis on Lew Griffin, Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther and Richard Hoyt's John Denson.
  • Another P.I. book by William Hjortsberg as good as Falling Angel.
    (Randy Copeland from Eldorado, Oklahoma)
  • The Next Elvis Cole... still... (but we're getting closer)
  • The new Elvis Cole; The next Leo Waterman.
  • The new Walter Mosley/Easy Rawlins, allegedly out this year.
  • Michael Conelly's next novel.
  • Lawrence Block's Hitman"; etc. - but why on earth don't they film his Out On The Cutting Edge or better yet, When The Sacred Ginmill Closes.
  • Another SUCCESSFUL print magazine for short mystery fiction that devotes more space to tough stuff than EQMM and AHMM.

BEST HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
What gives you the most hope for the future of the P.I.?

  • The internet's new pulp guys, the crime dogs and other assorted barbarians are starting to show up on honest-to-goodness paper.
  • Small presses taking risks on rulebreaking writers who create wonderful off-centered PIs.
  • An increasing number of P.I.-centered anthologies.
  • Web zines giving exposure to new writers.
  • Kris Nelscott & SJ Rozan.
  • I still go with internet sites like this one... and HandheldCrime... at least we know there is still interest.
  • The PI presence on the Internet.
  • Intenet pulp.
  • The P.I. is just a parentheses for a character. It's what the book says about people.
    (Michael Spexarth)
  • Phenomenal success of writers like Robert Crais, Michael Connolly, Barbara Sarenella, etc...
  • TV keeps optioning PIs (John Caine, Sharon McCone, etc) - now if only the shows would actually make it onto the schedule...
  • Receptiveness of paying cyber-markets for short fiction.

THE ASHES, ASHES, WE ALL FALL DOWN AWARD
Biggest Disappointment

  • The death of Blue Murder.
  • Blue Murder, we hardly knew ye.
  • Total Recall by Sara Paretsky. Maybe Schwarzenegger's presence WOULD have helped.
  • Publishers who let cool series go out of print too early just as a series is starting to get interesting.
  • Yet another year without the return of Harry Stoner.
  • This site doesn't elect Jack Livngston's Joe Binney to it's Hall of Fame and indeed doesn't even provide his profile while "Boz Bozinski" of Riptide "fame" along with other unpublished dicks submitted by would-be Hammetts who inhabit this site are given full-blown profiles as if they existed anywhere outside the wanna-be author's mind.
    (Randy Copeland)
    Well, Randy, you're more than welcome to put your money where your yap is and submit a profile on Binney. Make your case for his inclusion in the Hall of Fame. After all, it's not like I don't actively encourage people to submit to this site, or offer comments or suggestions.
    As for unpublished dicks on this site, well, I'd like to know which ones you're referring to. As far as I know, all detectives listed on this site actually do exist outside the creator's mind. If you're going to fling accusations around, I'd like names.
    Oh, and if you do submit a profile on Binney, who I agree certainly deserves a profile, though I'm not convinced he deserves inclusion in the Hall of Fame, I hope you'll write like a grown up and use both upper and lower case, so I don't have to waste my time retyping your prose.
  • I was surprisingly disappointed in Hostage by Crais.
  • Hope to Die. Block is always top notch, but it could have been written by John Sanford and called Scudder Prey...
  • I agree. A serial killer novel, with the POV switching between killer and detective? Like, gee, nobody ever did that before.
  • "Hope to Die" by Block. An absolute trainwreck.
  • Listen to the Silence. Yeah, I know. It came out in 99 or 2000, but the audio was 2001, and quite frankly, you boost a weak storyline or rambling narrative by having someone sounding like Lisa Simpson read it. Doh!
  • Typical formulas instead of focusing on people. Morals instead of ethics, attitude instead of feeling.
    (Michael Spexarth)
  • Biggest disappointment: film based on lawrence block's 8 Million Ways To Die.
  • Hope it's not true, but I read on one of the listservs that the Marsh Tanner series is history.
  • Demise of Blue Murder.

NO FUTURE, NO FUTURE
Most Depressing P.I. Trend.

  • The lack of even a few low-budget PI films.
  • No P.I. movies, no P.I. T.V.
  • The publishing industry apparently thinking PI books don't sell (so some agents have said). Bastards.
  • Recovering alcoholics. Drink or don't drink. Just quit whining about it.
  • Web zines vanishing sometimes without warning.
  • Fewer men working (! or at least getting published) in the field.
  • Lack of PI TV shows.
  • Maybe this isn't actually the case, but it sure seems like fewer P.I. books are published every year.
  • The availability of Hollywood formula and money effecting the genre.
  • Too many PI books are veering into what I consider amateur sleuth territory - ie, WAY too much focus on personal angst, relationship problems, family issues, etc. When the investigator's a pro, is it asking too much for the plot to center on an honest-to-goodness case?
  • Lack of PI movies and TV shows.

THE "MICROWAVED CAT" AWARD
Most Nauseating Cover Design

  • This year, I want to complain about the "branding" thing where certain writers get this uniform image for all their books, like Elmore Leonard and George Pelecanos, instead of having a new design for each book. Apparently, publishers think it's "easier" for someone to notice a similar design than to actually just look for the writer's name on the damn cover.
  • While I'm a big fan of illustrations over over-sized typography, the cover of that Fedora collection was just lame. Whose child did it?
  • Evanovich's Seven Up.
  • Whoever at St. Martin's designed the cover art for Dan Barton's Heckler should be shown the door. It made the book look like a cozy, and cozy it ain't.
  • They all are.
  • Didn't see one worthy of this award.

WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD BOOKS GONE?
P.I. Classics Too Long Out of Print

  • Interface by Joe Gores
  • Texas Wind, by James Reasoner
  • Yeah, Interface by Joe Gores. And the Mac books by Thomas Dewey.
  • An affordable reprint of Cap Shaw's 1946 Hard-Boiled Omnibus.
    I second that one!
  • Fred Zackel's novels, Frederic Brown's Ed and Am series, and how about the early Robert Skinner books? That series is really getting good, but the first two in the series are not easy to find, and they were published in the 90s!
  • The great Ben Perkins series by Rob Kantner ( My personal favorite)
  • Anything by Bill Granger. Bill had a stroke and will no longer be writing. He's with us, but gone - think Memento. A perfect candidate for POD.
    (Tim Broderick from Chicago)
  • Michal Z Lewins' Albert Samson books.
  • Anythng by Crumley.
  • Arthur Lyons -- the Jacob Asch series, though you can still get some from No Exit Press.
  • There are a lot of early short stories by various writers that used the format, such as p.k. dick in Blade Runner (the electric sheep book). Most of these writers live in dusty anthos in neglected pub libraries (they don't throw anything out).
  • Miscellaneous Stephen Greenleaf.
  • Texas Wind by James Reasoner (how about a POD edition, Mr R.?)

HELP WANTED
Private Eyes You'd Most Likely Hire, And Why?

  • Nero Wolfe. Not only would he get it right, but he'd offer one of those expensive beers at the meeting.
    Yeah. Spenser drinks some good brews, but he never seems to bring along his clients.
  • Continental Op or Mike Hammer. They get the job done.
  • Zen Moses. Even lung cancer couldn't take her down, and she has great taste in beer.
  • The Continental Op, of course.
  • Micheal Z Lewin's Albert Samson----to spring the poor guy out of the slammer and have a greasy meal with him & his mom at her diner.
  • Matt Scudder and Joe Pike/Elvis Cole: true existential men; who are ready to "do what's necessary"...
  • Hmmm. Hey, Kevin, do any of those Canadian eyes have an office next to a Tim Hortons? If not, I'll go with Marsh Tanner - a man who likes Oreos is definitely a man you can trust.
  • The Continental Op, the most soncummate professional in the game.

I CAN HEAR MUSIC
Best P.I. -Related Music or Song

  • Private Investigations by Dire Straits
  • The Long Drive by Hamell On Trial
  • I'm Not That Innocent by Britney Spears (Sorry. Couldn't help it.)
    (Anthony Neil Smith from Mississippi)
  • Theme from Shaft
  • Not new, but Carnival by Natalie Merchant always makes me think of a lone PI.
  • LPs of music from Peter Gunn and Mr Lucky by Hank Mancini.
    (Bob Gardner from The Big H -- Houston, that is)
  • Not really a PI song, but makes me think of lonely PI's whenever I hear it: Deep Purple's "Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming." You can just see the pre-AA Scudder sitting at Mick's place by himself, saying, "Christ, what the hell am I doing?" whenever you hear it.
  • The Long Goodbye from film of same name.
  • Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn Theme is still the best.

IS THE P.I. OBSOLETE?
In the wake of the September 11th attacks, how relevant is the private eye hero? And how will it affect the genre?

  • A good question. I wish I was smart enough to answer mit. But I think the P.I. can be very relevant. The P.I. does, and always should, deal with evil on a human scale. That's ground zero for evil, right there. Greater evil is built up one soul at a time.
  • No, the PI is not obselete. You know, really, I'm tired of reading how EVERYTHING must have changed after Sept. 11. All that "is this still important?" crap. The PI survived WW2, Vietnam, The Cold War, TV, the Web, and the Millennium, so it will survive Sept. 11. It will only die if Britney Spears makes a PI movie.
    Oh, I agree. I'm just passing along a question someone asked me. If anything, I think the P.I. will become more relevant.
  • Heros are always needed, and P.I.s often exemplify the succeeding-against-the-odds that make heroes.
    (Michael Bracken)
  • We live in dark times. Dark times eventually call for lone wolves. They'll just look different and have new toys to play with as all this unfolds.
  • Well, it only took a week for people to start robbing each other, maybe shorter, as the local paper's a weekly.
  • You know what -- I've been curious about this myself. Since the 11th (I live about 10 miles away from Ground Zero) I've found myself reading a lot of Stephen King and fantasy stuff... I don't know if the things have to do with each other... it might be that I've just read too much PI stuff that I needed a break, but I think the dark reality of some of these novels might have been a little to bleak for me to take and I need a ghost or fantasy setting... I"m just now starting to get back into the PI stuff. So, no I don't think it's obsolete, but the person who came up with this question might have been going through the same thing I was... As for the PI hero, a man with morals above anything else, I think the character is still strong... Even stronger... Especially after the Jersey-ites put others before themselves in PA and brought that plane down into a field instead of another monument.....
  • Investigation is in the humand mind as curiosity. We all seek.
    (Michael Spexarth)
  • I think the trend to historical/period PI stories will become even more marked. Plus there may be an increase in stories about large agencies concerned with big-time security questions.
    (Jim Doherty)

SO LONG, IT'S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YOU...
Friends we'll miss...

  • Blue Murder
  • Bill Granger. He doesn't remember knowing me.
    (Tim Broderick)
  • Douglas Adams
  • Mordecai Richler He never wrote about a Montreal private eye, he just wrote like one.
  • Milodragovitch (is he really gone?) Also Nameless; Fiddler; and McGee, always.
    (H. Kelly Levendorf from Ft. Lauderdale, FL by way of Weirton, WV -- just ask Burke...)
  • Lew Griffin.
  • Blue Murder (what the heck happened?)
  • Charlie Sleet (cf. Stephen Greenleaf's Marsh Tanner series)
  • Hugh Holton. He was a cop (and a cop-writer), not a PI writer. Died long before his time.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS...
(... and here's my own list of suggestions...)

  • The Philip Marlowe, Private Eye video set - this series got me interested in Chandler.
  • A first edition of Cap Shaw's Hard-Boiled Omnibus signed by all the authors in mint condition. But I'll settle for one with all its pages...
  • An agent for my novel DEBRIS.
    (Anthony Neil Smith from Mississippi)
  • All the Harry Stoner novels by Jonathan Valin. (There are three nobody's giving up at the local bookstores.)
    (Jim Winter from Cincinnati...unfortunately)
  • The video box sets of Peter Gunn and Mr Lucky.
  • Another anthology from PWA.
  • A list of novels as good as Hammett, Chandler etc etc.
  • I already got it. Cons, Scams & Grifts by Joe Gores.

HEY! YOU FORGOT TO ASK...
Make up your own damn questions!

  • You should ask: Best stylist.
  • And one more: Best non-PI crime novel with "Monkey" in the title (and the answer is of course GUN MONKEYS by Victor Gischler).
    (Anthony Neil Smith from Mississippi)
  • You should give out the "They Killed Trees for THIS?" Award (for the most pages wasted), and my nominee is Death On a Casual Friday by Sharon Duncan. The mystery element wasn't bad, but I don't read crime fiction because I want to know about the PI's lovesick daughter, quirky mother, three former husbands, or anxieties about the current man in her life, particularly when none of it has anything to do with the plot. It felt like a quarter of the book could have been eliminated by leaving out all of this extraneous crap. And there's a throwaway comment about Canada that should have been just thrown away."
    (Nathalie Bumpeau from Montreal)
  • I agree, I'd like to see peoples thoughts on best stylist as well, but I'd say best stylist still writing today....
  • Nathalie B hit the nail on the head on this one...
  • Best multi-author anthology: Which is probably Mystery Street edited by Bob Randisi.

SPILL THE BEANS
Further Comments, Suggestions, etc.

  • Good to meet you in DC Kevin. Thrilling Detective keeps getting better. And didn't the New Pulp (and us Crimedogs) kick major ass in 2001?
    (Anthony Neil Smith from Mississippi)
    Um, yeah, we did. I gotta feeling 2002 is going to be a good year...
  • Hey Kevin, I enjoyed your article in the latest Reflections in a Private Eye. I might have to pick up Iced. Can I get an autographed copy?
    (Paul Tarantino from Naperville, Illinois)
    Um, not unless you come to Montreal, or drop by Bloody Words this year in Toronto. If you're serious, e-mail me, Paul.
  • More Hall Of Fame Nominees: Albert Samson by Michael Z. Lewin and Joe Binney by Jack Livingston.
  • Aominee for Hall of Fame: Dr. Mongo frederickson by George C. Chesbro.
    (Randy Copeland)
  • Still love the site...Keep up the goodwork!
    (Dave White from New Jersey)
  • Thrilling Detective kicks ass. Keep up the good work.
    Will do.
  • This site needs a thick list of writers and specific works that are top drawer for the genre. Not that the genre is strictly P.I.
    (Michael Spexarth)
    Stay tuned....


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