The Year 2004 in Review
Here's the results
(so far) for the 2004 Cheap Thrill Awards, as nominated, discussed,
debated and otherwise squabbled about by the readers of this
THE BEST P.I. BOOK AWARD
For Books First Published
- Hard Revolution by George Pelexanos.
- Little Scarlet
by Walter Mosley.
- Terminal Island by John Shannon. Ho-hum. Another year, another
- Double Play by
Robert B. Parker. Jackie Robinson is an interesting character,
but I really wanna see Joe again...
- Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael Koryta.
- Fade to Blonde by Max Phillips
- The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen.
- The Narrows
by Michael Connelly
- Pelexanos' Hard Revolution.
- Double Play
by Robert Parker.
- Hah! This year sucked!
- Little Girl Lost by Richard Aleas
- Hard Revolution, of course! GPP is King!
- Now You See It - Stuart Kanminsky.
- With or without the CD, Hard Revolution
- Some copies came with a CD? Now they
- John Swan's Sap. Gee, I almost
forget this one.
- Cold Fire, Calm Rage by Joe Stein
- Jest and Die
by Stella Whitelaw
THE OTHER BEST P.I. BOOK
For Books You Read in
2004, Regardless of When They Were First Published
- The Maltese Falcon
- Butcher's Hill
by Laura Lippman
- Walking the Perfect Square by Reed Farrel Coleman
- Fast Lane
by Dave Zeltserman. Faster and leaner than the self-pubed version.
- The only decent P.I. books I read this
year were published back in the forties and fifties, mostly.
I'm sick to death of girl dicks and black dicks and gay dicks
and bleeding heart black girl lesbo dicks all weeping about "social
injustice" and all that crap.
- Grifter's Game
by Lawrence Block.
- Finally came back to Scudder with Everybody
Dies - brilliant book and infinitely superior to the godawful
next book in the series Hope to Die.
- Scandal Takes a Holiday - Lindsey Davis
- Blue Belle
by Andrew Vachss
- LA Requiem,
THE BEST P.I. SHORT STORY
For Stories Published
in 2004 (and please list where they appeared)
- "Port of Missing Men" in Thrilling Detective
- "Take Down the Union Jack" by Ray Banks (yeah I'm a kiss-ass)
- "Hilly Palmers Last Case" by Duane Sweirczynski from PWG.
- "Next-Door Dave" A
Dan Fortune story by Michael Collins. It was in EQ? AH? One of
- At least on-line, men can still be
men. The stuff in Plots With Guns and HardLuck
rocks. And yeah, some stuff on Thrilling Detective doesn't totally
bite, but you better watch it.
- Its hard enought to find novels where
I come from...
(Russel D McLean from Scotland)
- The most recent Hawthorne story
in EQMM by Hoch.
- Still have a soft spot for Dave White's
writing (and no, we're not dating), so "God's Dice".
Oh, and "Hilly Palmer's Last Case" made me laugh out
- The Lippmkan story in Randisi's All
BEST P.I. SHORT STORY COLLECTION
Published in 2004
- Erle Stanley Gardner's The Danger
Zone and Other Stories. Great stuff!
- Mickey Spillane's collection. He's
- Fedora III
- Again...Its hard enought to find novels
where I come from...
(Russel D McLean from Scotland)
- The most recent June Thomson Sherlock
- Fedora III.
Bracken does it again!
- Murder and All that Jazz.
BEST P.I. NON-FICTION OR
Published in 2004
- Who cares?
- Booze and the Private Eye: Alcohol
in the Hard-Boiled Novel by
Elizabeth Rippetoe. I can't believe nobody wrote this book before.
Thriller UK (magazine)
- Hardboiled and High Heeled: The
Woman Detective in Popular Culture
by Linda Mizejewski. It's more fun than essential, and not EVERYONE
is a lesbian, but it is fun. great pics, too.
- Were there any?
- Gangsters, Swindlers, Killers, And
Thieves: The Lives and Crimes of Fifty American Villains Lawrence Block edited this collection of bios
of assassins, outlaws, bootleggers, con artists, and scoundrel
from American history, though curiously, he left out a few presidents.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
The Best New P.I. in 2004,
in Any Medium
- Michael Koryta
- He's only 22!?!?!?!
- Jim Winter.
He's only NOT 22!
- Lincoln Perry and Joe Pritchard in Tonight I Said Goodbye by Michael
- I read Tonight I Said Goodbye,
and the comparisions to Hammett are a crock. Third rate Spenser,
reheated is more like it.
- Can I jump on the bandwagon and say
Koryta? Or can I be real egotistical and put forward Scots
PI Sam Bryson from the pages of AHMM last year and my
own creation? :-)
(Russel D McLean from Scotland)
Hmmm... don't be shy, Russell, tell us more...
- the bodyguard in Cold Fire, Calm Rage.
- Jason Wilder
et al from the Midnight Investigation Agency (Michael Siverling's
The Sterling Inheritance)
SLIM PICKINGS: THE BEST
P.I. FILM/TV SHOW AWARD
For Films/Shows First
Released in 2004
- Veronica Mars. Nancy Drew meets the mean streets.
The FOX reality show that lasted one episode.
- Veronica Mars,
this show blows me away each week, with it's bittersweet endings
that fit right into the PI formula.
- Television? Get real!
- Were there any?
- That reality PI show we had on some
obscure BBC cable channel. Fascinatingly mundane.
WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
The Worst P.I. Film/TV
Shows Released in 2004
- The one on the Comedy Network about
the midget P.I. So bad it wasn't funny.
- Veronica Mars.
Someone should cap that bitch, and put on re-runs of the original
- At least if there were none it means
there weren't any bad ones (that I saw!)
WHAT THEY SHOULD BE THINKING
P.I. TV Shows and Movies
That Should Be on DVD
- Honey West. But legit this time, and good quality.
- Private Eye.
- Harry O
-- only the best TV private eye series ever.
- Night Moves.
- 77 Sunset Strip. Kookie Lives!
- James Garners' Marlowe, with
- The original Mike Hammer series,
with Darin McGaven. Or Johnny Staccato. These guys knew
how to make their own damn ustice.
- 77 Sunset Strip
- I'd love to see the rest of Public
Eye on DVD, but that would require a miracle.
- The Outsider,
Ten Speed and Brownshoe or Sonny Spoon. Three short-lived
P.I. shows that were just too hip for the room.
- Surfside 6.
SPINNING WHEELS GOT TO
Best PI Movie or TV Show
Released on DVD in 2004
- I don't know when they were released
but the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes are finally out on
DVD - easily the best Holmes/Watson dynamic and some brilliant
- Mike Hammer (tv
DRAWN THAT WAY
Best P.I. Comic Book or
Graphic Novel of 2004
by Gary Phillips. One issue in, and I'm hooked.
- It's not P.I., but the second Road
to Perdition graphic novel is great.
- Definitely Angeltown. Wait'll
you read the second issue.
- Who cares?
- Harry Johnson.
- Batman Returns
- Hawaiian Dick.
BEST MYSTERY MAG, WEB SITE,
E-ZINE, LIST-SERV, BLOG or NEWSGROUP
Fiction or Non-Fiction,
In Print or On-Line Besides This One, Natch!
- Plots With Guns. R.I.P.
- Mystery Scene.
- Confessions of an Idiosyncratic
Mind by the idiosyncratic Sarah
- Rara Avis.
- Ed Gorman's
- January Mag's
Rap Sheet. And the price is right.
- Plots With Guns.
still rocks. Oh and Sarah Weinman's Confessions of an Idiosyncratic
- Confessions of an Idiosyncratic
Mind (Sarah Weinman), A Writer's
Life (Lee Goldberg), World's Worst Blog (Victor Gischler)
- Bob Tinsley's short story blog.
- Hard Luck Stories.
- Mystery Scene
for the insider news.
May they rest in peace!
(Sarah Weinman), The Short Of It (Bob Tinsley); Crime
Spree and Noir Originals have both had some cracking
- Thriller UK
Best One-Liner in P.I.
Fiction (read or seen) of 2004
- Well, it's not exactly a one-liner,
since it needs the set-up, but in Max Phillips' Fade to Blonde,
a thug worries that a local gangster is out to get him:
"You crazy goddamn moron, everything in this valley is Scarpa's.
He'll kill me. He'll kill me."
"No he won't," I said, and shot him.
- "It was easy." by Mike Hammer.
Still the best line ever.
- Have to say, in Ed Lynskey's collection,
"Out of Town a Few Days" (can't remember the
story), I loved the line, "And that'll give you gas, as
in the death chamber!" So pulpy and cheesy and still I loved
it. (And that's probably a misquote!)
- "You know why they call them 'dicky
bows' don't you? 'Cos they're wrapped round pricks!" (dicky
bow is London slang for a bow tie.)
(Great line! Where's it from?)
BEST TIP OF THE FEDORA
Best Cameo or Mention
of a PI in Books, TV, Movies, Songs -- Pop Culture, Basically.
- Dennis Lehane's
cameo on "The Wire."
WISDOM OF THE AGES
The Best Thing I Ever
Learned from a P.I. Novel Was...
Nobody is ever what they seem.
- "Never sleep with a woman who
has more problems than you do." Explains a lot in my life...
I have very few problems...
- I've learned to come up with relevant
questions and phrase them cleverly.
- Lesbians are boring.
- Never trust the sexy dame... ever...
I didn't listen to that advice for years and now I know better!
- ... realising that I could get the
living snot kicked out of me but one hot bath later, and I'd
be in fine fettle.
- Never put a cocked gun down your trousers.
guys! Tell me where you're digging up these nuggets from!)
HOW MUCH LONGER?
Most Anxiously Awaited
- The release of -- hopefully -- Ross
Macdonald's last Lew Archer book. The notes for it
have recently been discovered, and it would be a blast to find
someone who could complete the novel, or at least whip the notes
into decent shape. Okay, Poodle Springs by Parker (after
Chandler) wasn't the greatest P.I. novel ever written, but it
sure was fascinating. And supposedly, Macdonald left an entire
outline, not just four chapters....
- The return of Ben Perkins.
- The new Matt Scudder. So hot, there
are no ARCs coming out.
- The debut of Northcoast Shakedown
by critically acclaimed author (and monumentally humble) James
(James R. Winter).
- Though I get the feeling we'll never
see it, the next Kenzie/Gennaro book.
- The return of Gary Phillips' Ivan
- Kevin Smith's (Clerks, Dogma,
etc.) Fletch movie.
- Something fucking good to read, for
- Well I would have said Ford in Walk
Among the Tombstones - but that's been canned...
- Films from Hamilton's and L. Davis's
- The first Cal Innes novel. Ahem. Probably
the next (and last, I think) couple of Jack Taylor books, actually.
- The return of Mannix.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
What gives you the most
hope for the future of the P.I.?
- Ken Bruen
scoring a very well-deserved Best Private Eye Novel Shamus by
The Private Eye Writers of America. In an era of dumbed down
flag-waving, it's inspiring to see a major crime awarded on pure
merit, and politics and patriotic navel gazing be damned. Oh,
and Mr. Bruen? The prime minister's on the line to congratulate
you. Can you hold?
- Getting back to basics without getting
back to old cliches.
- That Bosch is going back to being a
- A couple of new publishers (Hard
Case Crime and Point Blank) willing to take a chance
not just on new writers but on older books too long out of print.
- The new P.I./noir imprints Hard
Case Crime and PointBlank and their commitment to
classic lean prose.
- After eleven years reading the genre,
I saw the debut of my own P.I., Chris Harvey, in 2004. I hope
he passes muster with Thrilling Detective's distinguished following.
With any luck, it won't be eleven years before the sequel.
- So far, nothing I've seen makes me
particularly happy. Maybe someone should stick a fork in the
private eye, he's fucking done.
- The fact so many talented new (to me)
writers seem to be giving it a go: we'll bring it back to the
mainstream, boys and girls!
McGarrity, Kaminsky are writing, and writing great!!
- Seeing writers starting out on the
web and getting book deals, no matter how small. So that would
be a thumbs up to PointBlank and Hard Case Crime.
Bruen winning the Shamus after a lifetime of riding the
THE ASHES, ASHES, WE ALL
FALL DOWN AWARD
- Editors who don't edit.
- The end of the Milan Jacovich series.
- Editors who don't edit, and then proceed
to tell other editors what to do.
- Crais' latest delay.
- The demise of Plots with Guns.
- P.I. movies and TV shows that die before
they ever reach the screen
- The on-going childishness of some beginning
- Every new P.I. book I read this year
pretty much bit the big one. If I want bleeding heart cry baby
propaganda, I would have subscribed to the ACLU newsletter. Also,
the continuing bias toward private detective fiction by the big
publishers. Big, bloated crap is published while good, honest
kick-ass writers are left hanging in the wind.
- I read Hope to Die, as I love
the Matt Scudder mysteries: man, what was up with that? I've
never come away from a mystery so unfulfilled.
- The rather sudden demise of PWG.
- Ice Run.
How can the perfect man have such lousy taste in women?
Alex is the perfect man? Yikes!
NO FUTURE, NO FUTURE
Most Depressing P.I. Trend.
- The serial killer is REALLY getting
on my nerves.
- Genre hybrids that mix-and-match other
genres (romance, supernatural, sci-fi) with P.I.s, but show no
understanding of the latter at all.
- Sidekicks who carry the detective's
balls around for them. and pussy writers like the much-overrated
George "Boo Hoo Hoo" Pelecanos and Steve "Sugar
- The fact PIs aren't quite mainstream,
just hovering on the edges.
- The lack of television shows.
- Gratuitous manipulation of the reader.
- Morons who still equate profanity and
chest-thumping with toughness.
THE "MICROWAVED CAT"
Most Nauseating Cover
- The cover of Lee Goldberg's Beyond
the Screen, which shows a phallic-looking rocket ship crashing
through a TV screen.
- The Fedora III cover. I love
pulp art when it's done well. This isn't.
- Most 'true crime' book covers.
- Little Girl Lost, featuring the poster girl for anorexia.
THE "THAT''S MORE
LIKE IT" AWARD
Cover Designs That Don't
keep surpassing themselves. And new kids on the block Hard
Case Crime are coming up fast.
- The recent pulp-style covers Ellery
Queen Mystery Magazine has been using recently rock.
- Most covers by Hard Case Crime.
- Definitely the HardCaseCrime
guys. Too bad their books themselves aren't so hot, or at least
their new ones.
- Anything (and I mean anything) by Hard
- I've like PointBlank's, and
Hard Case Crime are cool in a retro-smutty kinda way.
- Cold Fire Calm Rage.
- Anything from UglyTown.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE GOOD
P.I. Classics Too Long
Out of Print
- As always, Interface by Joe
Gores. I won't give up on this one. after all, Texas Wind
by James Reasoner was finally reprinted, for which we should
all raise a glass to Point Blank.
- Too many Ross MacDonald's are out of
print. It's a crime.
- The Honey West and Shell
Scott books. Hard Case Crime, are you listening?
- Mickey Spillane's Tiger Mann books.
- Some of Whittington's trash.
(You mean by Joe Gores? Definitely!
But if you mean Dashiell Hammett's work, just wait a few weeks.
Vintage is planning to reprint several of the books over the
next year, starting January. There's also a new collection, Vintage Hammett, coming out.)
- The Max Thursday series
- Bart Spicer's Carney Wilde series.
P.I. Classics FINALLY
Back in Print
- Anything by Hardcase Crime.
- Texas Wind by
James Reasoner (reprinted by PointBlank), Coward's Kiss
by Lawrence Block and The Amos Walker backlist (reprinted by
- Hard Case Crime again!
- Day Keene
WELCOME TO THE FOLD
Mystery Fiction Character
Who Should Become a P.I.
- Dave Robicheaux. For real this time.
- Elmore Leonard's Chili Palmer.
- Joe Friday
or Steve McGarrett. I'd love to see Steve-O seriously
ticked off and on his own. that's the sort of show I'd watch!
(sp?)... Or maybe Billingham's DI Thorne should turn in his uniform
for a while, see if he cheers up a bit.
- Every year, I say it: Rebus. He's basically
a PI anyway, but I'd like to see him take it up in retirement.
TOO LONG IN THE WASTELAND
P.I.s Missing In Action
- Milan Jacovich,
Nick Stefanos (besides the cameos)
- Marsh Tanner,
Harry Stoner, Dan Fortune... the usual suspects.
- Technically I can't call him M.I.A.,
but I miss the first-person-only, more optimistic Elvis Cole.
Also, Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar.
- John Wessel's Harding.
- Mike Hammer.
Now more than ever.
- I only just found Shell Scott so
yeah, that's who we want!
- Marsh Tanner,
Ivan Monk, Leo Waterman, Callahan Garrity,
Leo Haggerty, Aaron Gunner, Milan Jacovich
- Cliff Hardy.
someone get Peter Corris an American publishing deal again!
SO LONG, IT'S BEEN GOOD
TO KNOW YOU
We'll Miss Them...
- Plots With Guns. A class act all the way.
- Joseph Hansen
- Plots with Guns, Joseph Hansen, Larry Brown,
- Joseph Hansen,
one of the true greats. The tersest prose since Hammett, the
psychological depth of Macdonald.
- Plots With Guns. At least we still have HardLuck.
Sniff... sniff... even though they always rejected my work they
were very nice about it!
- Joseph Hansen,
Jerry Orbach (well, he played a PI), and Pierre Berton
(non-PI related but still a great loss).
- Will Eisner.
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS
(And check out our suggestions...)
- Ken Bruen's entire backlist.
- Forget the book, I want one of those
real Maltese Falcons. Or two, as bookends.
- L.A. Confidential and Peter Gunn on
- A real television mystery channel.
Starz' Mystery is a joke.
- An endless supply of bullets -- there
are just too many assholes out there.
- A new fedora - seriously, my old one
that hung on the wall got all tattered.
HEY! YOU FORGOT TO ASK...
Make up your own damn
- What the hell happened to Judas?
Anybody know? I was meant to be in their next issue over two
SPILL THE BEANS
Further Comments, Suggestions,
- "Time for Jim's annual rant: Every
year about this time, we get to listen to some pinhead mewl like
a kitten stuck in a chipper shredder that there's too many female/black/gay
PI's. The implication is that the PI needs to be a white, male
cardboard cutout shuffling down dark, damp streets muttering
lame cliche-ridden voiceovers. (And speaking as a white male,
I'm offended they think we should be cardboard cutouts.)
Screw that. Spare us the retreads in fedoras. It's the 2000's
and the middle of the decade at that. Onward and upward, not
backward and dead in the water. If someone wants to write a Asian
lesbian parapelegic PI who writes erotic poetry and owns 20 cats,
all while packing a .45 and guzzling Old Grandad like it was
water, hell, if it works, go right on ahead.
(Jim Winter from: Cincinnati -- otherwise known as "That
Damned Red City!!!")
- "Just keep it up guys. I love
the fact that you're paying now. It's probably going to make
it a lot harder for me to get a story accepted here. Which means
I have to step it up. Which is a challenge, which is always good."
(David White from New Jersey)
- "Thanks for the mention, Kevin.
Action is my reward. Great working with you."
- "Listen bitch, to guys like you
who just read and write about tough guys, the idea of actually
being one seems like a farce... blah blah blah ... Hopefully
one day you'll do time and realize what a pussy world you inhabit."
(This wasn't addressed to the poll, but it's the sort of fan
mail I get every now and then -- thought I'd share.)
- "Congrats on a great site, lads...
just what I need to get my PI fix every once in a while... Keep
it up! And please don't go disappearing on us like everyone else
seems to be..."
(Russell from Scotland)
(Well, assuming the previous correspondent's most fervent
hopes don't come true, I ain't going nowhere...)
- "I'll side with Jim on this one.
The idea of a PI being a rough-and-tumble two-fisted justice-bringer
is about as original and as needed as a swift kick in the balls.
You want Mike Hammer, you read Mike Hammer, but don't
expect a generation of writers who aren't interested in Commie-bashing
or misogyny to agree. It belongs at the back of the comic book
shop, far away from the stacks of Angeltown and Road
To Perdition. A PI is supposedly a man of his times, and
if Hammer were knocking about right now, he'd be sitting in his
trailer, whacked off his face on brandy and polishing his gun.
Because there's a major difference between a tough guy and an
Having said all that, thanks for the mention, Senor Smith (God
knows what I did to deserve it) and, now that you're a paying
site, how's about having deadlines for submissions?
Just a thought..."
(Ray Banks from the U.K)
(Deadlines? God, then I'D have to meet them too!!! Are you
- "Not enough UK PI stuff is written.
It's still predominantly a US thing. UK stuff still tends to
be police based."
(Kieran Carey from London, UK)
ABOVE AND BEYOND
Staff Members and Contributors of
- Gerald So
The fiction meister!
- Dale Stoyer
- Jim Winter
- Dave White
- Ray Banks
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