Nyet, Nyet, Soviet
Russian Private Eyes

"The Communists tried hard to kill detective fiction in Russia... Yet even in that era, the detektiv continued to appear, and crime showed a stubborn refusal to follow the rules of Marxist theory. Instead of fading away, criminal activity grew more robust, providing excellent material for aspiring writers... Once glasnost was declared, the trickle of detektivs quickly became a flood. The genre proved itself particularly suited to asking what seems to be a fundamental question for Russia's reformers: who is guilty?"
--
Anthony Olcott, Literary Dispatches (1998)

"Even reading detekticy can sometimes be good for the soul."
-- Igor Vinnichenko

For some reason, private eye fiction is not very popular here in Russia, despite the popularity of the detectivs. Almost all heroes and anti-heroes in Russian crime fiction are either cops and spys or ex-cons and vory v zakone (crime lords). Of course, during the Soviet regime there was no such thing as private investigators, but the continuing dearth of private eyes in Russian literatire bears further investigation.

In the meantime, here are a few Russian private eyes that we have been able to dig up:

ALSO OF INTEREST

  • Russian Pulp: The Detektiv and the Russian Way of Crime
    (2001; by Anthony Olcott)...Buy this book...Kindle it!
    Fascinating study of the detektiv, the Russian version of the murder mystery, and it's long, glorious -- although occasionally clandestine -- history. Olcott, a mystery novelist himself (Murder at the Red October, etc.) makes a strong case for the cultural significance of the detektiv novel, and how it follows and diverges in important ways from its Western counterpart.

Preliminary list respectfully compiled by Ray Garraty, with some help from Kevin Burton Smith. Suggestions and comments are welcome.


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