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 site.

For Books First Published in 2004

  • Hard Revolution by George Pelexanos.
  • Little Scarlet by Walter Mosley.
  • Terminal Island by John Shannon. Ho-hum. Another year, another great book.
  • 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 rocked.
  • Some copies came with a CD? Now they tell me!
  • John Swan's Sap. Gee, I almost forget this one.
  • Cold Fire, Calm Rage by Joe Stein
  • Jest and Die by Stella Whitelaw

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, Robert Crais

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 those...
  • 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 loud.
  • The Lippmkan story in Randisi's All That Jazz.

Published in 2004

  • Erle Stanley Gardner's The Danger Zone and Other Stories. Great stuff!
  • Mickey Spillane's collection. He's the master.
  • Fedora III
  • Again...Its hard enought to find novels where I come from...
    (Russel D McLean from Scotland)
  • The most recent June Thomson Sherlock Holmes book.
  • Fedora III. Bracken does it again!
  • Murder and All that Jazz.

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.

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 Koryta.
  • 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...
  • Garron - the bodyguard in Cold Fire, Calm Rage.
  • Jason Wilder et al from the Midnight Investigation Agency (Michael Siverling's The Sterling Inheritance)

For Films/Shows First Released in 2004

  • Veronica Mars. Nancy Drew meets the mean streets.
  • P.I. 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.

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 Mike Hammer.
  • At least if there were none it means there weren't any bad ones (that I saw!)

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 Bruce Lee.
  • 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.
  • Mannix

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 productions.
  • Mike Hammer (tv show).

Best P.I. Comic Book or Graphic Novel of 2004

  • Angeltown 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. No, seriously...
  • Batman Returns
  • Hawaiian Dick. Retro fun.
  • Angeltown

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 Weinman.
  • Rara Avis.
  • Ed Gorman's blog.
  • January Mag's Rap Sheet. And the price is right.
  • Plots With Guns.
  • DetecToday still rocks. Oh and Sarah Weinman's Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind.
  • 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.
  • PWG! May they rest in peace!
  • EQMM
  • Confessions (Sarah Weinman), The Short Of It (Bob Tinsley); Crime Spree and Noir Originals have both had some cracking features, too.
  • Thriller UK
  • 4MA

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 Cameo or Mention of a PI in Books, TV, Movies, Songs -- Pop Culture, Basically

  • Dennis Lehane's cameo on "The Wire."

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.
    C'mon guys! Tell me where you're digging up these nuggets from!)

Most Anxiously Awaited P.I. Event

  • 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 R. Winter.
    (James R. Winter).
  • Though I get the feeling we'll never see it, the next Kenzie/Gennaro book.
  • The return of Gary Phillips' Ivan Monk.
  • Kevin Smith's (Clerks, Dogma, etc.) Fletch movie.
  • Something fucking good to read, for a change.
  • Well I would have said Ford in Walk Among the Tombstones - but that's been canned...
  • Films from Hamilton's and L. Davis's books.
  • The first Cal Innes novel. Ahem. Probably the next (and last, I think) couple of Jack Taylor books, actually.
    (Ray Banks)
  • The return of Mannix.

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 cop.
  • 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.
    (Gerald So).
  • 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!
  • Hamilton, 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 down escalator.

Biggest Disappointment

  • 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 authors.
  • 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!

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 Pussy" Hamilton.
  • 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.

Most Nauseating Cover Design

  • 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.

Cover Designs That Don't Suck

  • Uglytown 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 Case Crime.
  • I've like PointBlank's, and Hard Case Crime are cool in a retro-smutty kinda way.
  • Cold Fire Calm Rage.
  • Anything from UglyTown.

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.
  • Hammett
    (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 iBooks).
  • Hard Case Crime again!
  • Day Keene
  • Hammett

Mystery Fiction Character Who Should Become a P.I.

  • Rebus.
  • 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!
  • Robichaux (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.

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!

We'll Miss Them...

  • Plots With Guns. A class act all the way.
  • Futures
  • Joseph Hansen
  • Plots with Guns, Joseph Hansen, Larry Brown, Christopher Reeve.
  • 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.
  • PWG... 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.

(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 DVD.
  • 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.
  • Mannix on DVD.

Make up your own damn questions!

  • What the hell happened to Judas? Anybody know? I was meant to be in their next issue over two years ago!

Further Comments, Suggestions, etc.

  • "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."
    (Gerald So)
  • "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 impotent psycho.
    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 nuts???)
  • "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)

Staff Members and Contributors of the Year

  • Gerald So
    The fiction meister!
  • Dale Stoyer
  • Jim Winter
  • Dave White
  • Ray Banks

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