Re: RARA-AVIS: hard-boiled females & lone wolves

Mark Sullivan (
Sun, 13 Jun 1999 12:57:06 -0400 (EDT)

But are there any lone wolves left in hardboiled fiction, other than the psycho- and/or socio-paths that are too-often its villains? Even Vachss's Burke, for all of his declarations that he is alone, needs no one, etc., has a large, extended surrogate family. In the Searchers, John Wayne, after restoring order, is left outside the door; in God Is A Bullet, Case Hardened (sic) is invited in to form a new family. I think this is one of the things that marks the last couple decades of hardboiled fiction, the complicated way the detective relates to the order -- he or she may be on the outskirts, but they are no longer completely outside it.

Even Stark's stories about Parker, whom many would call the lone wolf, supreme, are really about how Parker works in a group dynamic. I can't think of a single case, other than the revenge-driven Hunter, in which Parker operates alone.

Then, in modern noir we see people punished for holding themselves apart, thinking they are different, or better than others. Look at Lankford's Shooters. This guy is able to be victimized because he has no ties, no one who will stand by him.

I can think of very few real lone wolves in modern hardboiled besides Amos Walker and for all of his appeal, he is somewhat anachronistic; as a matter of fact, that nostalgia is a large part of his appeal. And Estleman's too-short (boy, would I love to read more) hitman series is about the anti-hero's relationships with his sons and others.


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