Re: RARA-AVIS: Cozies and hardboiled, and Pelcanos (was Unrelated ...)

Mario Taboada (
Thu, 16 Jul 1998 09:06:13 +0000 Me:

: While theoretically Chandler's essay gave the kiss of death to the
: cozy genre, in practice it did not. Long before Chandler, Hammett
: had roasted Van Dine in a very "hardboiled" review of one of his
: books.


Do you have any details on this? I don't think I've read it. Eddie
Duggan mailed me some Hammett material a while back, and I thought it
might have been in there, but if it was, I've mislaid it.

Me again:

It's reprinted in Haycraft's "The Art of the Mystery Story". I hesitate
to post this publicly since it may still be under copyright (it's from
1927). Hammett completely and definitively ridicules Van Dine and, by
extension, a host of other writers.

I quote from it:


This Philo Vance is in the Sherlock Holmes tradition and his
conversational manner is that of a high-school girl who has been
studying the foreign words and phrases in the back of her dictionary. He
is a bore when he discusses art and philosophy, but when he switches to
criminal psychology he is delightful. There is a theory that anyone who
talks enough on any subject must, if only by chance, finally say
something not altogether incorrect. Vance disproves this theory: he
manages always, and usually ridiculously, to be wrong. His exposition of
the technique employed by a gentleman shooting another gentleman who
sits six feet in front of him deserves a place in a _How to be a
detective by mail_ course.


[Saturday Review of Literature, January 15, 1927]


Mario Taboada
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