"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...