"Firsts" are the sort of game where literary historians, scholars and bookgeeks really get 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: