Thrilling Detective Web Site January 1999

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The Year in Review

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Private Eyes We'd Most Like To See Beat Up

  • Hawk
  • Spenser... but only 'cause I don't like Parker's books much...and I can't stand the pansy.
  • Elvis Cole
  • Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar just asks for it.
  • Mike Hammer, created by that Spillane guy.
  • Lawrence Sanders' Archie McNally...what a priss!
  • R.B. Parker's Spenser still seems insufferably smug to me. I'd like to see him get a thrashing.
  • I haven't read any Spenser in some time, but I always wished he'd take a harsh beating.

Recent Private Eye Novel Most In Need of Pruning

  • Anything by any California writer.
  • This Far, No Further by John Wessel. Wessel should have read his own title...
  • Pretty much all of 'em. I think 170 pages is the perfect length. Remember when Matt Scudder novels were less than 200 pages long?
  • Dennis Lehane's Gone, Baby, Gone was just too Long, Baby, Long.
  • Wouldn't presume to say. I have too much trouble cutting my own stuff.

Best Psychotic Sidekick

  • Bug Raiford (mental institution escapee-he was there for firebombing a car full of feds-who is one of Sam Fuller's colleagues, in Fred Willard's Down On Ponce.
  • Joe Pike This guy makes Hawk seem like a frat boy.
  • Myron Bolitar's sidekick Win wins. He's way more unstable and much more annoying than than Hawk or Pike.
  • Elvis Cole's silent-but-deadly business partner, Pike. Too cool for words... so he doesn't waste any.
  • Joe Pike, definitely.
  • Hawk. In fact, I think it's time he bitch-slapped Spenser around a bit, if only to shut him up for a few paragraphs...
  • Stephanie Plum's grandmother. This woman is scary...
  • Max the Silent from Andrew Vachss' Burke books. Silent and deadly and absolutely no lines of dialogue.
  • Whitney Talbot from Laura Lippman's Tess Monaghan series (a know-it-all preppy editorial writer with a hunting rifle, what could be scarier?)
  • Clete Purcell by James Lee Burke. A baby blue porkpie hat, a bad ass convertible and some seriously bad mojo. Burke should let Robicheaux take a vacation, and let Clete be the swinging dick for a while.
  • Mouse in the Easy Rawlins series.
  • Definitely whatshisname -- Elvis Cole's mate. A total nutter....

They Deserve Each Other (Fantasy P.I. Team-Ups From Hell)

  • Alo Nudger and Modesty Blaise
  • Spenser and Martha Stewart
  • Elvis Cole and Amos Walker
  • Spenser and Mike Hammer... then I'd get my wish of seeing Spenser's ass kicked up around his neck.
  • Spillane's Mike Hammer and Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski. Both are downright ruthless.
  • I agree. Mike Hammer & V.I. Warshawski. With any luck, they'd kill each other.
  • Bill Crane and Nick Charles. Now that's a night on the town!
  • Spenser and good old Travis McGee. For that matter Trav and anybody...
  • Elvis Cole and Travis McGee.
  • Take Gordon DiMarco's Riley Kovachs, Roger Simon's Moses Wine, and Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski in the same room. They'd probably all get so caught up discussing the historical dialectic or some such nonsense that the crime would go unsolved.
  • Kinky Friedman and Burke (from Adrew Vachss' novels). New York would never be the same.

Most Nauseating Cover Design

  • Token of Remorse by Michael Stone
  • Pretty much all of 'em again -- why do you think nobody's but us are buying the damn things?
  • Cases by Joe Gores. Great book, but they must have spent about twenty seconds and 32 cents to design the cover...
  • Most of them look like typeface samples. Whatever happened to illustration?
  • Didn't see one I really hated.

Private Eye With Whom I Most Want to Spend the Weekend

  • Sally Colt as long as she dressed from Modesty Blaise's closet. Sally's the trim, blonde, blue-eyed PI who appears in at least two of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books and in The Hand in the Glove, which features her boss, Dol Bonner)
  • That black-rubber dress chick from England. Sam Jones?
    Yep, that's her name, written by Lauren Henderson.-ed.
  • Spenser. But he should dump that bitch (and I don't mean Pearl).
  • Honestly? Honey West as portrayed by Anne Francis. I'd never hire her as a PI, but a weekend in the mountains? Of course, she'd have to leave the damned cat at home...
  • Carlotta Carlyle by Linda Barnes
  • Earl Emerson's Thomas Black. He should ditch that clown and come see a real woman.
  • Toss-up between Bill Smith and the Continental Op--though, come to think of it, they're pretty much two ends of the spectrum, aren't they?
  • Caley Burke by Bridget McKenna
  • Katy Munger's Casey Jones, although I'd probably, appropriately, feel like a train wreck in the morning..
  • V.I. Warshawski
  • Claire McCarron (as played by Margaret Colin) on TV's Leg Work from a while back. Colin's such a sensational actress. Her face is so expressive! And her legs....WOW! Perfect! One suggestion: add more pix of Ms Colin, preferably showing some leg.
  • Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman
    Gee, I better start taking my vitamins. Just the taught of her, me and all those rowing muscles is tiring me out....excuse me while I go get some Wheaties and eight hours sleep....-ed.
  • Assuming I wasn't a happily married man, I'd have to say Honey West. Especially as portrayed by Ann Francis.
  • Saz Martin (if only because she's really Stella Duffy)
  • Travis McGee. I go for the big, sensitive lug type. But forget the hotel. Let's head for The Busted Flush and rock the boat, baby.
  • Claire Parker from Laurence Gough's novels (sure she's a cop... so sue me)

Most Annoying P.I. Trend in 1998

  • Let's put political correctness on the hanger next to the lime green leisure suit.
  • Losing their edge...whether hard-boiled or disappearing!
  • The continuing trend of trying to disguise hardboiled detective novels as "chick" books by "soft" cover designs...
  • Limp Silence of the Lambs rip-offs and serial killer books disguised as P.I. novels.
  • Sensitive male dicks with psycho sidekicks to do all the dirty work, and supposedly strong independent women who always seem to need rescuing by their cop boyfriends in the last chapter.
  • I'd have to go along with whoever said psycho sidekicks. Give me a Continental Op or a Mike Hammer, a character with enough of the courage of his own convictions to do what needs to be done without resorting to a bad-guy partner to do the dirty work.

Besides This One

  • Rara Avis
  • Blue Murder (
  • Bullets and Beer: The Spenser Homepage
  • ClueLass
  • Tangled Web (

Fiction or Non-Fiction

  • Mystery Scene
  • Is there a REAL mystery mag out there anymore??
  • New Mystery's too pretentious, and the others are too soft... but now that I know Hardboiled's still around I'll have to check it out. So, I can't pick one yet.
  • I have to admit to being really partial to Mystery Buff since they bought my first short story.
  • Absolutely Crimetime


  • I liked The Little Sister but I'm not really into the idea of turning literature into icons for the illiterate.
  • Jinx, by Brian Bendis, by a long shot (and whadda ya mean, illiterate?). Stray Bullets was the best crime comic, though.
  • Really??? There are some???
  • DC/Vertigo's ressurection of Jonny Double. And there's rumours of both The Human Target and Slam Bradley revivals being in the works.
  • It's not a PI book, exactly, but Max Allan Collins' Road To Perdition. I haven't actually read Jonny Double yet, and I haven't seen Bendis in a while, so I haven't scored any Jinx comps. (Unfortunately, my local store doesn't carry it...)
  • Jonny Double
  • The graphic novel version of The Little Sister (though, technically, I think this was actually published in '97; however, I didn't see it on bookstore shelves until '98).

(Most Consistently-Enjoyable Current P.I. Series)

  • Wiseguy -- I wish I'd taped more episodes
  • John Marshall Tanner by Stephen Greenleaf
  • Matt Scudder by Lawrence Block
  • Robert Crais's Elvis Cole
  • Ross McDonald's Lew Archer and Stephen Greenleaf's 'Marsh' Tanner
  • Hell, for me it's got to be Pronzini's Nameless series. The last four books have each been excellent, especially Illusions.
  • Hammett's Continental Op stories & novels. Not his most polished work, not by a long shot, but the most (imho) consistently enjoyable things Hammett ever wrote.
  • Elvis Cole
  • Matt Scudder, and his latest, Everybody Dies, proves Block still has it!
  • Well, Mike Hammer is the only PI icon still being written about by his original creator, but if we're limited to series that are less than 40 years old, I'd have to say Joe Gores's DKA series, with Al Collins's Nate Heller, Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder, and Loren Estleman's Amos Walker holding runner-up positions.
  • Lew Griffin/James Sallis
  • The KINKSTAH!!!



  • Earl Emerson's Thomas Black series has bee one of the foremost to mix senseless good fun with a damn good whodunnit. Thomas' lusting after downstairs neighbor Kathy has always bee a source of good fun...especially when he denied there was anything between him and Kathy. Well, things came to a head and now they are man and wife...and all of the good-natured fun is gone...just a couple of good friends makin' whoopee which I am sure they enjoy but isn't nearly as much fun as before. Thank god the stories are still wonderful as all get out!!!
  • I agree, but you should call this the Sam and Diane Award.


  • Example in point....Linda Barnes has been writing for some time. Carlotta Carlyle appears to have been her second main character, with Michael Spraggue being the first. He was the one who got me interested enough in Ms Barnes' writings to try out Carlotta. But we have seen about 5 or 6 books about Carlotta since the last Mike Spraggue novel.
  • Example#2...Julie Smith's Skip Langdon novels are great, but when is she going to write more involving Rebecca Swartz, the San Francisco treat, Okay neither of these ladies are P.I.s, Sorry!!! I was just wondering.!!!

(Submitted by
John Spaapen of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

  • Not only did Gregory McDonald bring back a rather feeble Fletch, but his Skylar is pretty weak reading as well.

Further Comments

From Paul Bergin
Nice idea! I don't fill in forms, as a rule, but this 'un kinda carried me along. Good work. My only comment that may require clarification is the one about "Token of Remorse." I think Mike Stone is a pretty good writer. He's no Jim Hall, or Jim Harrison, but his work is worthwhile. Why they continue to saddle him with those cartoonish, WCW-type covers is beyond me.

From Mike Morris in Muskegon, MI
Hey...I like this website!!!! :)

From Christopher Mills in South Florida
I really haven't read very many new books in 1998. I seem to have fallen a bit behind even in the series that I've faithfully followed for years. So, basically, my picks for best novel of '98 (Boobytrap and Flying Blind) were pretty much the only brand new ones I read... but they were both great!

From Chris Farley in Tinton Falls,N.J.
The best surprise over the last two years has been the appearence of Rick Riordan. His character is a good compilation of Mcgee pragmatism and Spenser toughness.

Haven't had enough?
Then check out's 1998 Mystery and Thrillers Author Picks, wherein a whole army of's favorite mystery and thriller authors, including Sara Paretsky, Lawrence Block and Elmore Leonard, share their picks for 1998.

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