Hey, Don't I Know You from Somewhere?
Great (or at least memorable) Openings in Private Eye Fiction & Films

No, they're not all private eye stories, but they're all good.

  • "It was a wandering daughter job."
    -- from "Fly Paper" by Dashiell Hammett (The Continental Op)

  • "Samuel Spade said: 'My name is Ronald Ames.'"
    -- from "They Can only Hang You Once" by Dashiell Hammett (
    Sam Spade)

  • "I was standing on my head in the middle of my office when the door opened and the best looking woman I'd seen in three weeks walked in."
    -- from Stalking the Angel by Robert Crais (Elvis Cole)

  • "From the way her buttocks looked under the black silk dress, I knew she'd be good in bed."
    -- from Solomon's Vineyard by Jonathan Latimer (Karl Craven)

  • "My name is Kinsey Millhone. I'm a private investigator, licensed by the State of California. I'm thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind."
    -- from "A" is for Alibi by Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone)

  • "I found Paddy the Mex in Jean Larruoy's dive."
    --from "The Big Knockover" by Dashiell Hammett (The Continental Op)

  • "It was the kind of place where if you didn't spit on the floor at home you could go down there and do it."
    --from "The Tomcat That Was Treetop Tall" by Jim Thompson

  • "There is a bullet in my chest, less than a centimeter from my heart.  I don't think about it much anymore."
    -- from A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton (Alex McKnight)

  • "There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen. you can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."
    -- from "Red Wind" by Raymond Chandler (John Dalmas)

  • "By the time I caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."
    -- from The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley (C.W. Sughrue)

  • "It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression 'As pretty as an airport.'"
    -- from The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (Dirk Gently)

  • "The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wrath outside the terrace of The Dancers."
    -- from
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe)

  • "They threw me off the hay truck about noon."
    -- from
    The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

  • "If you leaned way back in the chair and cranked your neck hard over, you could see the sky from my office window, delft-blue and cloudless and so bright it looked solid."
    -- from
    God Save the Child by Robert B. Parker (Spenser)

List compiled by Kevin Burton Smith. Thanks to Paul Bergin and Victoria Esposito-Shea for their help on this one.


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