RARA-AVIS: Spenser/Hardboiled/Others

Reed Andrus (randrus@home.com)
Wed, 24 Nov 1999 09:31:36 -0700

Gerald So wrote:

> Brian Lawrence asked whether Spenser would be considered hardboiled.
> I think the definition of hardboiled has to change slightly along with
> changing detectives.

While I'm in general agreement with Jim Doherty's concise definition, the statement above also rings true, particularly with Spenser who has such a large and established body of work that changes can be easily identified.

Using Jim's definition, Spenser is occasionally displays a hardboiled attitude, but Parker doesn't allow him to sustain it throughout an entire book. So the key to Jim's definition (in my opinion) is whether or not the attitude and colloquialism must be sustainable, or just evident in certain situation.

Gerald continues:

> On the other hand, if a detective keeps up the tough-as-nails,
> heart-of-stone attitude too long, he labels himself an anachronism.
> Amos Walker is a good example of this, but more on him next month.

Using the sustainability criteria, I would suggest that Connelly's Harry Bosch qualifies, as does Matt Scudder, perhaps Elvis Cole (at least in the most recent story), and maybe Patrick Kenzie (although Lehane has presented him as seriously conflicted in the situational ethics department). James Hall's Thorn, Andrew Vacchs' Burke, John Wessel's Harding, John Lutz's Alo Nudger (and the Florida counterpart whose name I can't remember) -- how do they fit the criteria?

Best regards,

... Reed

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