Re: RARA-AVIS: Who is a PI?

Mark Sullivan (
Tue, 11 May 1999 14:09:04 -0400 (EDT) PB wrote:
<<For myself, I look upon any character who is engaged in an
investigation for a private party . . . or for private reasons . . . as
a PI. The job's basically the same, anyway, and labels are just a

With that "private reasons" escape clause, this definition could apply
to Angela Lansbury and the other amateur sleuths who bring death like
the plague -- would you invite one of them to your home knowing there is
death wherever they roam?

Adding the stipulation that the work is for hire gets rid of most of the
amateurs and allows for Travis and Scudder, but still includes Nero
Wolfe, Auguste Dupin and Sherlock Holmes. As a matter of fact, I think
you'd be hard pressed to find any definition of private eye that did not
include them, which is why I usually add the qualifying "hardboiled"
when naming the genre I read so much of. It is the attitude and outlook
that marks the dividing line for me.


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