Cheap Thrills
The Year 2002 in Review

Here's the results for the 2002 Cheap Thrill Awards...
as nominated, discussed, debated and otherwise squabbled about by the readers of this site.

For Books First Published in 2002

  • Hell to Pay by Pelecanos
  • Closing Time by Jim Fusilli.
  • Without Fail - Lee Child
  • Hell to Pay.
  • Crumley's The Final Country.
  • Bleeders by Bill Pronzini
  • Without Fail by Lee Child. Can't get enough of Reacher.
  • Breakout (Parker novel)
  • Streets On Fire, by John Shannon. This choice is purely by default. It is actually my least favorite of the Jack Liffey novels, but a damn sight better than most of the crap that came out this year.
  • Hell to Pay - George Pelecanos
  • It's not P.I., but still awesome-- The Walkaway by Scott Phillips.
  • Vulture Venture--by Coggins.
  • Without Fail by Lee Child.
  • Without Fail by Lee Child.
  • Streets on Fire by John Shannon.
  • Hell to Pay by Pellecanos.
  • Bad Boy Brawley Brown.
  • Sorry, I've been reading the old stuff.
  • Thin Walls by Kris Nelscott
  • Chicago Confidential by  Max Collins.
  • The Final Country.
  • Pelecanos' Hell To Pay.
  • Chasing the Dime -- Michael Connelly
    Not really a P.I. book, though...
  • Only read the newest books of two established authors in 2002, and neither one of them even comes close to being best of anything.
  • Chicago Confidential by Max Allan Collins.
  • Bad Boy Brawly Brown was my favorite, but I have to admit I spent most of the year reading the older stuff - Chandler, noir classics, Black Mask writers, Hugh B. Cave, pulp stuff, etc. Still I think Mosley has surpassed Crais as Chandler's successor. Of course his Easy Rawlins owes a lot to Chester Himes also.
  • Without Fail by Lee Child.
  • When Graveyards Yawn by G. Wells Taylor

For Books You Read in 2002, Regardless of When They Were First Published

  • Strangers in Town by Ross Macdonald
  • The Final Country by Crumley
  • The Fabulous Clipjoint by Fredric Brown (an oldie but goodie)
  • The Lime Pit by Jonathan Valin
  • The Raymond Chandler collection of short stories. It's great to finally have them all.
  • Potshot - Robert B. Parker.
  • Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler.
  • John Sandford's Kidd series.
  • My Gun is Quick by Mickey Spillane
  • In a Strange City by Laura Lippman
  • Bad Boy Brawley Brown - my second favorite from 2002
  • David Fulmer's Chasing the Devil's Tail.
  • Sunset Express
  • North of Nowhere by Steve Hamilton
  • A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton.
  • When the Sacred Ginmill Closes by Lawrence Block.
  • Silent Joe ( T. Jefferson Parker) Voodoo River & Sunset Express (Robt. Crais).
  • Motherless Brooklyn
  • The Maltese Falcon.
  • Pelecanos' A Firing Offense and Mosely's Devil in a Blue Dress both blew me away.
  • The Skull Mantra by Eliot Pattison
  • Triple Zeck by Rex Stout.
  • Scott Phillips - The Walkaway.
  • Tishamingo Blues -- Elmore Leonard
  • The Best-Kept Secret, Les Roberts.
  • Illusion by Bill Pronzini.
  • The Fabulous Clipjoint, followed closely by They Shoot Horses Don't They and Thieves Like Us, neither of which is really PI, but definitely noir.
  • A Darkness More Than Light - Michael Connelly.

For Stories Published in 2002 (and please list where they appeared)

  • "Wrong Place, Wrong Time" - Bill Pronzini (Most Wanted)
  • "Closure" by Dave White (Thrilling Detective Web Site)
  • My own "Wring That Neck " in Judas, Vol 2, Issue 2. (Jum Winter from Cincinnati, home of the mighty 1-7 Bengals)
  • "Sunday" by Loren Estleman. It's tucked away in iBooks' new reprint of Downriver.
  • "Thug" from Puerto Del Sol, Summer 2002 (I wrote this, so I might be ever-so-slightly biased)
    Yeah, just a little. You and Jim should get together...
  • "Closure" in Thrilling Detective just rocked!
  • Closure - The Thrilling Detective.
    Okay, Dave, did you put your mom up to this?
  • "Knives in the Dark" by Don Herron. The best Continental Op story Hammett never wrote. In Measures of Poison.
  • "Closure" by Dave White in Thrilling Detective. I read it in draft form and was impressed, but the editing tightened it and brought out a powerful theme.
    Hi, Mrs. White. Thanks foir the pickles...
  • "Faking It" by Parnell Hall (Most Wanted) - although if I'd read Dave White's "Closure" before the end of the year, my answer would probably have been different (sorry, Stanley).
  • "Strangers in Town" by Ross Macdonald.
  • I didn't read a lot of short stories but the two I remember best were "The Dover Affair" by Dave Zeltserman, which appeared on this web site, of course; and the Don Herron story, "Knives in the Dark" which was in Measures of Poision.
  • "Closure" by Dave White (Thrilling Detective Web Site)
  • "The Cat Lover" by G. Wells Taylor

Published in 2002

  • Most Wanted, edited by Robert Randisi
  • Not completely P.I., but Measures of Poison from McMillan Publications.
  • Enough Rope by Lawrence Block (includes ALL the Matt Scudder stories!!!)
  • Definitely Block's "Enough Rope." I couldn't get enough of Martin Ehrengraf.
  • I liked Block's Enough Rope.
  • Block's Enough Rope.
  • Most Wanted. Randisi seems to have abandoned writing P.I. stuff for westerns and cop books, but he still edits some rip-snorting anthologies.
  • Enough Rope by Lawrence Block.
  • Six Easy Pieces by Walter Mosley. I know -- it just came out, but I read the ARC last month.
  • Yeah, I wish Randisi would edit more P.I. collections. Most Wanted rocked.
  • Lady Blues + 12.
  • Measures of Poison by the master publisher the Great Dennis McMillan.
  • Most Wanted, ed Randisi.
  • Strangers in Town by Ross Macdonald.
  • Although they were written long ago - I have to give this one to Collected Stories by Raymond Chandler. Measures of Poision was pretty good though.
  • Enough Rope by Lawrence Block.

Published in 2002

  • The History of Mystery by Max Allan Collins
  • Sue Grafton's Writing Mysteries. A collection of essays by people who do it for a living.
  • Collins' History of Mystery.
  • Eddie Muller's Art of Noir. I want it, I want it, I want it soooooo bad.
  • Art of Noir by Eddie Muller.
  • Art of Noir by Eddie Muller.
  • Woody Haut's book on hard-boiled writers in Hollywood.
  • I didn't read anything in this line that was published in 2002, but I found William F. Nolan's The Black Mask Boys to be a treasure trove of information as well as a great anthology.
  • The History of Mystery by Max Allan Collins.

The Best First P.I. Novel Published in 2002

  • Jim Fusilli's Closing Time.
  • Bad Year for P.I.'s.
  • The Bone Orchard by Daniel Judson
  • Jack Murphy in The Dark Side by David J. Sherman.
  • There were two I really liked - Dave Sherman's The Dark Side (PI: Jack Murphy) and Jennifer Colt's The Butcher of Beverly Hills (PIs: Kerry and Terry McAfee).
  • Blue Edge of Midnight by Jonathan King.
  • In His Shadow by Dave Zeltserman.

For Films/Shows First Released in 2002

  • He's a borderline P.I., but Hack wins, hands down.
  • Monk. At its best, it's quite clever, and certainly more entertaining than Nero Wolfe.
  • Haunted was good, but I think it's been cancelled.
  • Is John Doe a P.I.? He says he is.
  • Angel.
  • It's a pity that Boomtown doesn't have a P.I. in it. That is the best new show of the year by far.
  • Tom Stone. What is he? A P.I.? An undercover cop? A freelance Mountie? Something in between? Whatever, it's nice to see a character-driven show and Stuart Margolin again.
    Good call, Duke. That's a decent show -- I'd forgotten about it.
  • John Doe (not a licensed P.I. but does investigate)
  • USA's Monk.
  • That last Spenser thing on A&E (and can't we do even better people???)
  • Gotta admit I'm a sucker for Law & Order when its on. Not really PI though.
  • I like Monk because his character contributes to his detecting ability instead of seeming like a mere oddity (like Nero Wolf's orchids, for example). Also he is like Sherlock Holmes in seeming more crazy when he is not tracking a crime. (Holmes used cocaine between cases for a comparable high). Also I like his gentleness; there can be crime fiction without continually raising the stakes with violence and lurid sex.
    My (somwhat incomplete) web site is dedicated to
    Monk. Too bad there are only 13 episodes!
    (Pam Shorey)
  • Tony Shalhoub's persnickitous Monk.
  • I guess Monk.
  • Monk, by default.
  • Film: Blood Work. TV Series: Nero Wolfe.
  • Blood Work
  • I simply enjoy the Adrian Monk series. Great writing.

The Worst P.I. Film/TV Shows Released in 2002

  • Monk. Good idea, but marred by excessive cuteness.
  • I'm not a big MONK fan. I don't hate it, but it never keeps my attention.
  • Nero Wolfe. The murderer last week is the victim this week. And next week she's Archie's girlfriend.
  • Nero Wolfe.....zzzzzzzzzz........
  • I keep trying to like Monk, but to no avail.
  • Everything else.
  • Monk is too cutesy and makes the obsessive/compulsion affliction too comical.


  • "The Counterfifth Detective" story arc in DC/Vertigo's 100 Bullets, featuring faceless private eye Milo Garrett. I'm still not sure what happened in it, but I know I enjoyed it (I think).
  • I'm sure Rucka or Gary Phillips had something to do with it, whatever it was. (I don't think Shot Callerz was really a P.I. series)
  • Femme Noir - were there more, life would be grand.
  • I can't afford comics. Perhaps when I sell my first novel. Heh.
  • Boston Blackie. Not a bad book, and bodes well for the rest of the Moonstone noirs.
  • Gravedigger. Lee Marvin is ALIVE!!!!! And Odd Jobs continues to rock. Thanks for running it here. although I go right to the official site, I discovered it here. Is it true there's a Odd Jobs graphic novel coming out?
  • Femme Noir.
  • The next issue of Ms. Tree.

Fiction or Non-Fiction, In Print or On-Line Besides This One, Natch!

  • Easy. Mine: PLOTS WITH GUNS, really. There's not much room to argue. I'll break your jaw. (Neil Smith)
  • Plots With Guns.
  • Rara-Avis
  • HandHeld Crime
  • Mystery Review
  • Mystery Scene
  • Rara Avis
  • Judas
  • Rara-avis
  • HandHeldCrime
  • There are none beside this one!
    Thank you. The cheque's in the mail.
  • Crime Time.
  • Hardluck Stories edited by Dave Zeltzerman - Dude you are amazing!
  • Rara-Avis
  • HandHeld Crime bought two stories of mine last year (including my first PI story, which was also my first western), so I'm somewhat prejudiced in Victoria's favor.
    (Jim Doherty)
    Me too, but don't tell Bryan...
  • Rara-Avis still, but I'm glad to see some new sites springing up.
  • The Exciting Investigator (or something like that) is the most useful site on the internet. Outside of that I'd have to say HandHeld Crime.
  • The Wildclown Chronicle

Most Anxiously Awaited P.I. Event

  • Robert Crais' sequel to L.A. Requiem.
  • Do we now have to wait ten more years for a new Crumley book?
  • Harrison Ford in A Walk Among the Tombstones Yeah, Scudder done right this time. I hear they actually read the book and are keeping the setting this time out.
    Is this still a go? I haven't heard anything lately.
  • Yup, it's still a go - production on Walk Among the Tombstores with Harrison Ford as Matt Scudder begins in January 2003. If you'd signed up for LB's newsletter <grin> you'd know that :).
    (Maggie, the nagging webmaven)
  • The new Matt Scudder BOOK.
  • The new Elvis Cole.
  • Possible Murder Amongst Children movie...
  • The second Duncan Sloan novel by Bob Truluck. Street Level was three years ago!
  • New Elvis Cole.
  • It's been almost two months since the last Robert B. Parker novel!
  • I'm probably waiting in vain, but I'd love to read another Kenzie/Gennaro tale.
  • A new Crumley.
  • Elvis Cole and Joe Pike's return.
  • The Last Detective by Robert Crais.
  • The Last Detective by Robert Crais.
  • The next Billy Bob Holland novel from James Lee Burke, or the next Kenzie-Genaro from Dennis Lehane.
  • A new Tanner book by Stephen Greenleaf.
  • Yeah...Bob Truluck's Duncan Sloan.
  • The next Spenser novel.
  • A tv show featuring a PI who's - here's a concept - just a PI. No quirks, no gimmicks.
  • The Last Detective by Robert Crais -- am also awaiting To The Nines, by Janet Evanovich along with the next Fred Brown Ed and Am Hunter omnibus.
  • The next Elvis Cole (as true before I read The Last Detective as after it) or perhaps Lost Light by Connelly - Bosch goes private!

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

  • This year, I can't say. I haven't found many new writers doing P.I. stuff I like. But the old guard--Crumley, Pelecanos, Connelly, Burke--are writing in top form this year.
  • The web - More zines are appearing. More new talent coming to the fore.
  • The glut of new editions of Chandler's work. You can never have enough Chandler out there.
  • Dan Simmon's Joe Kurtz is great. He's twice as tough as Mike Hammer and only half as nuts.
  • I might just start writing some P.I. stuff...
  • Kurtz is just the meanest, nastiest piece of work to come down the pike. And you wouldn't have him any other way.
  • Pelecanos, Crais, Rozan. Not to mention that many of the old guard (Crumley, Burke, etc. Came out with some good stuff this year)
  • New voices -- Jim Fusilli, David Fulmer, David Sherman, Dave Zeltserman, Bob Truluck... all bringing new passion to the genre, all approaching it from sometimes very different angles.
  • They're still being published.
  • P.I. classic reprint increase; online homes for P.I. fiction .
  • Writers like Dan Simmons and Jim Fusilli, who write deep books without being obvious about it.
  • The possible return of the Ben Perkins series by Rob Kantner.
  • They're finally going to make a Matt Scudder movie that might not suck.
  • New talent like Nelscott and Judson on the case.
  • All the new talent and ezines that are out there. Keep writing fellas and gals.
  • New talent, blending genres and developing identifiable characters.
  • In the past few years, there've been books from some promising new authors, and solid series entries from established authors.
  • The increasing number of paying short story markets on the 'Net.
    Hey, we're getting there... we're just trying to raise the seed money.
  • A lot of the political correctness crap seems to have fallen by the wayside, thank God.
  • Crais, Connelly, Pelcanos, Block - there are many authors doing great work now, just not the 200 books a year many of us read. Heck, that's what backlists are for! ;)

Biggest Disappointment

  • Same ol same ol. Too many guys defending the loner moral knight myth instead of trying to help it swim. New blood, please.
  • TV P.I.'s still not quite up to snuff yet. Getting there, though.
  • No big, breakout book/TV show/film to inspire interest in the genre.
  • Black Alley by Mickey Spillane.
  • First novels that feature bland, derivative characters indistinguishable from one another. Good Series authors doing crappy, boring stand-alones.
  • No new blood seen on the horizon.
  • Paretsky's Total Recall. V.I. seems to be treading water in this one.
  • Fewer well-made P.I. shows and movies.
  • They cancelled Haunted after just six shows. At least Angel's still on.
  • Same terrrible cover art on books - whos running these publishing houses anyway ?????
  • No one on tv (and it's creeping into books, too) can just be a PI any more. Now we've got disgraced ex-cops driving cabs instead of a simple old PI. And if it IS a PI, he's got to have a quirk/illness/etc. Come on, powers-that-be, when Stephen Sondheim wrote "You Gotta Have a Gimmick," he wasn't talking about PIs. I shudder to think what some of the excellent shows of the past would be like if done today. Harry O would be tailing people from a bus because his license had been lifted for drunk driving, and over on "The Rockford Files," Jim and Rocky would be in counseling trying to work through their father/son "issues."
  • The decreasing number of print markets (or at least print MAGAZINES) for short stories.
  • Authors seem to be able to publish 3 or 4 novels in a series, then their publisher apparently drops them. I'd like to see the mid-list authors have more avenues to staying in print.

Most Depressing P.I. Trend.

  • Gimmicky P.I. shows on television. Why can't a P.I. just solve cases?
  • Poorly edited self-published books that should never have been released.
  • Mike Hammer rip-offs.
  • Well, the last Scudder novel sucked hard enough for two years.
  • Serial killer novels. We don't need fairy tale evil when there's the real deal out there.
  • Twenty-year olds writing faux tough guys and noir wannabes. It's like virgins writing sex scenes.
  • Tightly-written classic P.I. books released today as pricey trade paperbacks.
  • Women private eyes, gay private eyes, black private eyes, foreign private eyes. We need to get back to basics.
  • Big time publishers dumbing down the creative energy in name of the almighty dollar. Let the writers write.
  • That last shot of bourbon that ends so many stories.
  • The Thrilling Detective Web Site starting to include amateur sleuths.
    I've only made exceptions for those who take off their clothes in public.
  • The announcement of a new Charlie's Angels movie.
  • I enjoyed Hard Eight by Evanovich, right up until the end, when I felt kind of let down. I thought the ending too abrupt and the deus ex machina of Joe and / or Ranger coming to the rescue is getting overdone, but hey, Stephanie is still one of the great comic and hard boiled creations of modern detective fiction.

Most Nauseating Cover Design

  • 88 Ways to Die by Johnnie Mitchell. A blatant attempt to cash in on patriotism, that has almost nothing to do with the story. It's almost enough to renounce your citizenship.
  • Rain Fall by Barry Eisler. This was an embarrassingly awful cover.
  • Hard Eight.
  • The John D. MacDonald paperbacks. The Color coordination is a bit too cutsey for a Travis McGee.
  • Coben's Tell No One (fluorescent orange) and Gone for Good (bright yellow).
    I'd have to agree. They look like they took about 30 seceonds to design -- and that's for both of them.
  • Too many to name.
  • Who has the money to buy new books with the covers still on them?

Book Cover Designs That Don't Suck

  • Westerfield's Chain by Jack Clark. Nothing earth-shattering, but at least a relatively fresh idea. I like it, and hope they continue to use it for the series.
  • The Righteous Cut by Bob Skinner. Great old fashioned cover art.
  • The Irish Sports Pages by Les Roberts.
  • Lawrence Block's Hit List has a cool cover. Also, the new Richard Stark covers are great.
  • Mike Hammer Collection Vol.1 (lady w/ gun)
  • Anything from No Exit Press.
  • Lets here it for UglyTown. These guys are by far the most hip and coolest dudes in the biz and they know how to make a cover sell the product.
  • Les Roberts' The Irish Sports Pages.
  • The new Fredric Brown omnibus of the first four Ed and Am Hunter novels was pretty "spot-on." For that matter the cover design of Measures of Poison was pretty cool too.

P.I. Classics Too Long Out of Print

  • Texas Wind by James Reasoner
  • I looked for the Michael Collins' Dan Fortune stuff at B'con, didn't find much. It would be nice if someone took a chance on bringing those back.
    YES!!! And bring 'em back in affordable paperbacks!
  • All Rob Kantner's Ben Perkins series.
  • Interface by Joe Gores.
  • The Snake by Spillane.
  • Oh, yeah, Interface by Joe Gores. You have no idea how long it took me to find that one.
  • Niebuhr's Guide to P.I. Fiction.
  • Cap'n Shaw's Hard-Boiled Omnibus, the Holy Grail of Pulp.
  • Rob Kantner's Ben Perkins series.
  • Ben Perkins series by Rob Kantner ( Of course! )
  • Michael Z. Lewin's series on Albert Samson.
  • Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett.
  • Albert Samson, Joe Binney, John Denson -- definitely Hall Of Famers!
  • Where is the Harold Browne stuff ??????
    Howard Browne, dude, Howard.
  • Texas Wind by James Reasoner.
  • Shaft - the entire series by Ernest Tidyman. They deserve to be in print. I'm keep preaching this till someday it happens (or I become wealthy enough to enter the publishing business, and do it myself).
    I can dig it!
  • Dan Fortune - No, wait - Manville Moon!
  • The High Window by Raymond Chandler

Private Eyes Flicks You'd Most Like Remade, and With Who?
(Before you purists start whining, remember that Huston's classic The Maltese Falcon was a remake)

  • Eight Million Ways To Die. Lawrence Block's classic P.I. tale deserves better than this star-studded fiasco.
  • Heaven's Prisoner. No wonder Dave Robicheaux drank.
  • I don't like movies that much anymore. However, someone should remake The Killers with the guy who directed Sexy Beast, starring, oh...a short-haired David Lee Roth.
  • The Long Goodbye - This time get Nolan to direct and maybe Law & Order's Chris Noth as Marlowe. And for God's sakes, this time, no lame cameos by some baseball player just because he wrote a book!
  • V.I. Warshawski. That movie was awful. Deserves to be done right. 
  • Bring back Torchy Blane! If they can find an actress half as spunky and feisty as Glenda Farrell to play the hotshot crime reporter, we've got a hit!
  • I the Jury with either Stacy Keach or Kurt Russell.
  • I like the Christopher Nolan/Long Goodbye idea. How about Guy Pearce as Marlowe?
  • There's no need to remake Devil in a Blue Dress, just keep working through the series.
  • The Maltese Falcon: You know some idiot studio exec is salivating over the idea, so let's do it right. Brad Pitt as the original blonde Satan, Anthony Hopkins as Gutman, and pinch-hitting for Elisha Cook, Jr, Jude Law. Sure it would never eclipse the classic John Huston version, but since when did that stop Hollywood. Can you say "Eight Million Ways to Die"? If you're going to do it, at least do it right.
    (James Winter)
  • Yeah, keep making the Easy Rawlins series, but get rid of Pretty Boy Washington, and cast Danny Glover as Easy. Easy should have some meat on him.
  • Small Vices with Michael Madsen as Spenser, Joan Severance as Susan, and Ving Rhames as Hawk.
  • Anything by Hammett, and it doesn't matter as long as Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) adapts and directs.
  • Farewell , My Lovely with Tim Thomerson, Mira Sorvino and Linda Fiorentino.
  • After Dark, My Sweet by Quentin Tarantino and how about Flint starting George Clooney (Oh my).
  • Well, this is already in the works: Right as Rain. How 'bout Danny Glover as Strange and Keifer Sutherland as Quinn?
  • Either The Long Goodbye (done RIGHT this time) with . . . well, I guess that's the problem. Who's young enough yet has sufficient gravitas to step into Bogart's and Powell's shoes. Kurt Russel, perhaps? (Guy Pearce?) Or 8,000,000 Ways To Die (done RIGHT this time) with, perhaps, Gene Hackman.
  • I'd like to see Chester Himes' duo of Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed return to the screen. I just don't feel they've ever been done correctly.
  • Eight Million Ways To Die. Lawrence Block

Most Romantic P.I. Story

  • What the fuck?
    No, that's the next question, Neil.
  • The last page or so of Raymond Chandler's Playback is possibly the corniest and most romantic ending of all Chandler's books.
  • The Dick and Jane by Abby Robinson. A girl with a thing about private dicks, and the dick who makes her dreams come true. It's both a spoof and a tribute to the genre, and not nearly as bad as it sounds. Honest, Kevin, you should include this on your site.
  • The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett. Especially considering Nick and Nora were supposedly modeled after Dash and Lillian Hellman.
  • Thomas Dewey's pi Pete Schoefiled and his wife Jeanie were possibly the most fully-realized married couple in pi fiction -- not too cute (à la Nick and Nora) or suffocatingly smug (Spenser and Susan).
  • I dislike too much Romance and/or sex in fiction. Such things remind me of the uncomfortable fact that I am not getting any while everyone else is. Besides, the
    lonely, bitter P.I. is a proud tradition, one that should be upheld like a sacrament.
    Fortunately, we have freedom of religion on this site.
  • No Colder Place by S.J. Rozan.
  • Is there one ?
  • Hoodwink by Bill Pronzini (aka When "Nameless" Met Kerry)
  • Bad Boy Brawly Brown (Easy pining for his friend Mouse) - on a more romantic for real note - Visions of Sugar Plums was about the rediscovery of wonder, which is close to romance.

Steamiest P.I. Story

  • Quinn getting it on with the bad ass chick in Hell To Pay.
  • Any scene that involves Mike Hammer and his gun.
  • That scene in Without Fail by Lee Child where he and his partner almost touch hands.
  • Bogart and Bacall talking about saddles, jockeys and horse-racing in the film version of The Big Sleep.
  • Hardcase by Dan Simmons.
  • Devil in a Blue Dress - Well, actually, she was out of that dress with Easy for a couple of days.
  • Is there one ?
  • The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett; where else could the simple search for evidence be so sexy?
  • I'm still waiting to read it, perhaps I'm checking out the wrong authors. I did read Miami Purity, which is pretty much noir and pretty damn steamy...they do it in a dry cleaners right by a dead woman...can't get much more steamy (or sick) than that.

P.I. Novels You Still Haven't Read, But Want To

  • The Carney Wilde series by Bart Spicer.
  • Fredric Brown's P.I. novels.
  • Yes, I admit it. Still haven't read any of the Stefanos novels.
    Well, as long as you don't post reviews of them, or ranting about them online, we'll forgive you.
  • I want to finally make it through One Lonely Night.
  • William Hjortsberg's Falling Angel
  • Farewell, My Lovely by Chandler.
  • This Joe Kurtz fellow sounds interesting.
  • I want to read too many of the Nero Wolfes.
  • Interface by Joe Gores.
  • The Maltese Falcon. Amazingly I've never read it!
  • The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley.
  • The second half of Ross MacDonald's body of work.
  • A Rage in Harlem.
  • Still on the list: Crumley's The Final Country..... and Charles Bukowski's  undiscovered P.I. manuscript.
  • Jesse Sublett's Martin Fender series.
  • I'd like to revisit the Dorothy Sayers Lord Peter Whimsey novels. They have a strong sense of place and time, with insight into a disappearing culture.
  • Haven't read anything by Ross Macdonald yet!
  • The Dark Fantastic by Stanely Ellin.
  • Hah-hah! Good one.
  • Still haven't read the early George Pelecanos books about Nick Stefanos and some of his other characters.
  • The Maltese Falcon - I've watched the movie so many times I'm not sure I can see the book the way it's written.

P.I.s Missing In Action

  • Well, if Lehane would stop being so damn *serious*, we could have another Kenzie/Gennaro.
  • Elvis Cole
  • Marsh Tanner by Stephen Greenleaf.
  • Elvis Cole, Harry Stoner
  • Gregory McDonald's I.M. Fletcher. Technically not a P.I., but still a great character.
  • Mike Hammer (Black Alley was bullshit, not real Hammer).
  • Ms. Tree (Forget Roads to Perdition -- this is the Max Collins comic that should really be filmed).
  • Kenzie/Gennaro.
  • Kenzie and Gennaro, Frank Clemons.
  • Jacob Asch.
  • Rob Kantner's Ben Perkins.
  • When are we gonna see Zen Moses return? I'm waiting with decreasing patience for Zen Justice to come out.
  • Jeremiah Healy's John Francis Cuddy - what happens now?
  • Albert Samson (Michael Z. Lewin).
  • The aforementioned Patrick Kenzie and Angela Genaro.
  • Marsh Tanner, Albert Samson, Bernie Gunther, Joe Binney.
  • Is Duncan Sloan playing cards with Elvis Cole?
  • That mystery series set in Michigan's Upper Penninsula.
    That would be Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series. There's a new one coming out in June, Blood Is the Sky.
  • Marsh Tanner, Ivan Monk, Leo Waterman, Callahan Garrity, Leo Haggerty, Elvis Cole.
  • Ms. Tree.
  • What ever happened to Gar Anthony Haywood's Aaron Gunner? Not to mention Don Winslow's Neal Carey.
  • Leo Waterman, Thomas Black.

Friends we'll miss...

  • Martin Brett, the British-born, Canadian author who penned the Mike Garfin series, about a Montreal private eye. He died in Alicante, Spain, where he had lived for many decades. Ronald Douglas Sanderson (his real name) started his writing career in 1952, and produced several hard-boiled novels , many which featured international settings. His books include The Darker Traffic (also known as Blondes Are My Trouble), The Deadly Dames, A Dum-Dum for the President, Prey by Night, And All Flesh Dies, The Final Run, Dead Connection and Shout For The Killer.
  • James Coburn, American tough guy actor, best known for his roles in The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and the Our Man Flint movies. He also played Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op in a TV mini-series.
  • Roy Huggins. Creator of Stuart Bailey, and television's Jim Rockford, Jake Axminster, Brett Maverick, David Ross, and The Fugitive. Along with Stephen J. Cannell and Jack Webb, one of the best friends detective and crime fiction has ever had on television. His body of work puts hacks like Dick Wolf to shame.
  • Joe Strummer. Not a P.I., not a P.I. writer. Just a musician who went down those mean streets and took names. Cry, cry go the jail guitar doors...
  • Chick Hearn (you know the announcer of the LA Lakers). Imagine if Chick wrote books what kind of lingo we would have.
    Uh, yeah, well, if we're going for local heroes, in that case, Ted Blackman, the gargles-with-ground-glass voice of reason for far too long on Montreal's CJAD. Streetwise, whether he was covering hockey, crime or music. He walked the walk and talked the talk with a hard but fair wit and a rock'n'roll heart. He will be missed.
  • Not a PI author, but Mark McGarrity (wrote mysteries as Bartholomew Gill).
  • I haven't read his books yet, they're on my list to get around to, but I only recently learned of Hugh Holton's demise. Sad to hear about it.


  • Any of the Tart Noir women who'll have me.
  • The last 5 Ross MacDonald's missing from my collection.
  • Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake in a black teddy.
  • A good, solid P.I. movie...
  • Ross MacDonald paperbacks to replace the ones I lost while moving.
  • Eddie Muller's The Art of Noir.
  • Greg Rucka's Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra TPB.
  • Touch of Evil DVD.
  • The complete Dennis McMillan catalog.
  • Again, not PI - Eddie Muller's The Art of Noir.
  • A collection of Dragnet radio episodes on CD (which, in fact, I got). Yeah, I know it wasn't a PI show, but it certainly had strong PI roots.
  • More chances taken by Evanovich. Time to catch up on Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor's Romans. Ernest Tidyman's Shaft books back in print. Walter Mosley to continue with Easy, Socrates and Fearless Jones, maybe even a story with all three in at once, if the timelines could be worked out.
  • Banacek and The Avengers on VHS OR DVD, captioned for the hearing-impaired.

Make up your own damn questions!

  • Does this bus stop at 57th Street?
  • Hey! What happened to the section you used to have for questions you forgot? I actually had one this year! In case it's still there and I'm just not seeing it (although I think I looked carefully), how about a category for Guiltiest Pleasure? Since I'm asking, I suppose I should answer. For me, it was ANONYMOUS REX. I heard nothing but bad things about this book (ironically, from people who hadn't read it),
    but I read it anyway - and thought it was a hoot.

Further Comments, Suggestions, etc.

  • Kevin, Keep up the good work. This site looks great as always. I'm proud to be a part of it. Oh and Kevin, I'd love to get the email updates... (Dave White)
  • I'm surprised at how little P.I. stuff I've really enjoyed this year, although I've looked at quite a bit, talked about it often, tried to find any glimmers of hope, but I just came up empty. I don't think it was a good year at all for P.I. fiction, but there were a slew of great crime novels. Go figure. ( Neil Smith)
  • When is cable going to bite the bullet and do a really gret P.I. series? "Monk" is a good first step, but c'mon! If HBO can do "The Sopranos," why not a really cool P.I. series? It'd be enough to get me to fork over for premium cable again.
  • I think with the success of shows like CSI and the various Law and Order Spin-offs, a decent non-gimmick P.I. show is inevitable. Or is that wishful thinking?
    (Bryan English from Vancouver,WA)
  • Great site, Kevin.
  • I read a few but enjoy them for sure--thanks.
    (Don from Alabama)
  • I nominated Jack Reacher (Child's "Without Fail") though he is not technically a P.I. in the sense that he doesn't seek employment.
    (Louise Guardino from Cary NC)
    Yeah, but doesn't seem to mind getting paid for his time, either. Although he does frequently seem to have problems collecting.
  • I'm always surprised at how new writers keep the P.I. genre viable through changing times.
    (Gerald So)
  • Since my PC stems from the Sam Spade era, I can't really answer your poll in the right boxes. And, since I confess I don't read nearly as much P.I. fiction as most of your readers seem to, I'm probably not the right person to answer the poll -- but een so, I'd like to stick my nose in your business.

    If you ask me, P.I. fiction seems to be taking a big dump right now. Most of the best "P.I." fiction is really lawyers, innocent bystanders, and cops acting like private eyes. Some good examples are The 25th Hour by David Benioff, last year's Ice Harvest by Scott Phillips, Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels, or KC Constantine or Archer Mayor's novels.

    Someone I think is capable of writing a really great P.I. novel, should he ever set his mind to it, would be Kem Nunn of Surf Noir fame. Tapping the Source was probably one of the half-dozen best novels written since Vietnam. I'd wish Robert Stone would also take a shot at a P.I. novel.

    But I suppose they don't count. Forced to name one P.I. novel, I'd have to go with Pelecanos' Hell to Pay, although I wish he'd get back to Nick Stefanos, who was the first Gen-X detective. Another P.I. novel that seemed to get a lot of mouth exercise was Fuscilli's Closing Time, which I thought was overwritten and overwrought. Too many New Yorkers writing reviews, maybe. There are also too many writers out there still trying too hard to prove they are hard-boiled rather than working on being good writers. If you want names, I'll mention Crumley and Ellroy.

    Fortunately, there are a lot of old-timers out there still writing decent P.I. stuff. Last year I read The Concise Cuddy by Jeremiah Healey and Spadework by Bill Pronzini. Both can be relied on. Sue Grafton brought up a lost husband and deserves mention for consistency. Robert Randisi deserves a lot of thanks for consistent high quality anthologies.

    The best P.I. writer today is Stephan Greenleaf. And, if he stops stealing his plots and his preaching from National Public Radio, and writes a real P.I. novel like he did with the first four or five JM Tanner books, he could rebound.

    A couple of stray thoughts: First, what the P.I. genre needs is some solid critical editions. If Graham Greene deserves several critical editions, so does Ross MacDonald, who took crime out of the hands of hoodlums and brought crime back to where it belongs--in the family. The recent reprints of Ray Chandler and Dashiell Hammett just don't do the job.

    Maybe at the very least, someone could update Robert Baker & Michael Nietzel's 101 Knights, a survey of American Detective Fiction 1922-84.

    Before ending, I'd like to congratulate you on your new non-fiction section. The couple of essays I've seen have been intelligent and intriguing. I'd like to see them out in public before the slimy academics get their hands on P.I. fiction.

    Finally, I'd like to gripe that I finally caught up with a movie called Twilight that just went nowhere in spite of the fact that it starred Paul Newman, Susan Sarandon, Gene Hackman, James Garner, Stockard Channing, and Reese Witherspoon (a nude scene even), and was written by Richard Russo of National Book Award fame. Twilight was the last Ross MacDonald novel that told what happened to Lew Archer in the end. I grant that it's slow and but it's a contemplative, meditation on the private eye. Should be reevaluated.

    Sorry to babble on like this, but I really admire your work. Probably reading screeds like this take up too much of your time.

    Sorry, but keep Thrilling Detective coming,
    (John Wirebach from Levittown, PA)
  • The Thrilling Detective Web Site is the best out there for info on P.I.'s. Kevin, keep up the good work.
    Hey, I just put the pieces together. I have an awful lot of help.
  • I'm a long time fan of crime fiction, but relatively new to the PI genre. This site has been a great resource in finding the classics. Keep it up.
  • You have the questions about book covers, but UglyTown ought to get a special mention for the design of the whole book. Their sections on what the mystery is
    about and the cast of characters are a great blast from the past.
    (Jan Long)
  • You continue to do a great job, Kev. Thrilling Detective remains one of the best sites on the 'Net.
    (Jim Doherty)
    Well, like Ringo said, I get by with a little help from my friends. Well, actually a lot of help.
  • My first time at your web-site. I will put it on my Favorites List.
  • Still in the process of reading the classics as well as the current greats. That's one of the reasons that I love this website, it's a great guide to what's good and worthwhile out there.
    (Steve Harbin)
  • I'll just echo my earlier comments here. This is the most useful site on the internet for those of us who can't stop reading. It's a wonderful resource for finding authors, characters and stories you are looking for, and an even better resource for finding introduction to authors, characters and stories you didn't know you were looking for. Keep up the good work!
    (Dale Stoyer)

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