The First Hard-Boiled Private Eye Story

"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:

"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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