THE CHOSEN THIRTEEN
The April 2011 P.I. Poll Results
To mark this site's thirteenth anniversary, we compiled a list of our thirteen favourite private eyes. It's been a few years since we did this, so it was interesting to see which new pups made the cut, which old faves lost their shine, and which eyes had staying power.
I wasn't fussy. I told people they could consider their importance, influence, historical significance, blah blah blah, but mostly, simply, I just wanna know: who are your thirteen favourite private eyes?
They could be in books or short stories or television or radio or comics or whatever. I did, however, weed out people trying to vote numerous times, or rig the results.
The results, as of April 1st, 2011, when we closed the poll, are here...
THE CHOSEN THIRTEEN
Philip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler
Sam Spade by Dashiell Hammett
Matt Scudder by Lawrence Block
Lew Archer by Ross Macdonald
The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett
Spenser by Robert B. Parker
Jim Rockford ("The Rockford Files")
Nameless by Bill Pronzini
Travis McGee by John D. MacDonald
Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin by Rex Stout
Nick and Nora Charles by Dashiell Hammett
Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
And a Three-way Tie for The Last Spot:
V.I. Warshawski by Sara Paretsky
Kinsey Millhone by Sue Grafton
Amos Walker by Loren D. Estleman
I was. When we last did a poll like this, well...actually, we never actually did a poll quite like this. I guess it was about time.
Considering the poll only ran for five days, and was limited to a few discussion groups, this site and my Twitter followers, I think we did pretty well, garnering some very enthuiastic responses from some very enthusiastic fans of the genre. Some of their comments will definitely make it onto this site.
Of course, Marlowe and Spade nabbed the top two spots, by a wide margin, and the next five names easily outdistanced the rest of the pack. I was still surprised (and delighted) to see Lawrence Block's Scudder do so well. The remainder of the list was really close -- with often only a few votes making a difference, and the 13th spot honestly was too close to tell.
It was also good to see the grandaddy of all private eyes, Sherlock Holmes, pop up, perhaps in response to his recent increased presence in film and television, and of course it's always good to see Jim Rockford anywhere. Spenser and Nameless both made it, too, which seems about right, and it's nice to know Hammett's eternal Op hasn't been forgotten.
It was also gratifying to see some of the most critically acclaimed eyes of the genre are also some of the most popular, suggesting perhaps that Thrilling Detective Web Site readers are a discerning bunch, and take their private dicks very seriously.
It was a little sobering, though, to realize that even the newest of these eyes (hello, ladies!) are almost thirty years old, but I'm reassured that several of those eyes are still going strong, with most of them scheduled to appear in new books later this year (including Scudder, and a posthumous release featuring Spenser).
I was a little surpised though that, despite his loyal and often quite vocal followers, Mike Hammer didn't make the cut. Then again, Hammer was such a product of his times that perhaps it's not such a shock after all.
And some of the more popular current P.I.s. were much further down the list than I had expected. In fact, the runners-up list below may be even more of a surprise -- and offer a glimpse of things to come.
Thank you all for responding. This was fun.
(in order of popularity)
This is where it starts to get interesting. These are the eyes that, for the most part, aren't quite as universally acclaimed as the top tier, but are all well respected. I've jiggled the results a little, counting separate votes for individual members of a detecting duo or team as one vote, and I've weeded out a few non-private eyes (Miss Marple, really?). Reacher squeaks in, but just, simply because he has accepted payment on occasion for his "adventures," and let's face it: it's hard to view someone with his skill set as an "amateur."