The First Hard-Boiled Private Eye Story

"Firsts" are the sort of game literary historians, scholars and bookgeeks love to play, giving them a chance to strut their stuff, loudly and proudly offering up the most blurry of distinctions and the most wishy-washy of definitions, turning hair-splittery into a fine art -- and occasionally a contact sport.

So what was the first hard-boiled private eye story, then?

That seems to depend on how you define "first," "hard-boiled" "private eye" and possibly "story."

But I digress. Here are the prime suspects. Let the hair-splittery commence...

"The False Burton Combs"
By Carroll John Daly
First appeared in the December 1922 issue of The Black Mask
Detective: Nameless

"The Road Home"
By Peter Collinson (Dashiell Hammett)
First appeared in the December 1922 issue of The Black Mask
Detective: Hagedorn

"Three Gun Terry"
By Carroll John Daly
First appeared in the May 15, 1923 issue of The Black Mask
Detective:
Three Gun Terry

"Knights of the Open Palm"
By Carroll John Daly
First appeared in the June 1923 issue of The Black Mask
Detective:
Race Williams

"Arson Plus"
By Peter Collinson (Dashiell Hammett)
First appeared in the October 1923 issue of The Black Mask
Detective:
The Continental Op


SEE ALSO

In the Beginning: Early Historical and Literary Influences on the Genre


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