Re: RARA-AVIS: Private Eyes. What else?

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 01 Mar 2001

If Cain, Thompson, Goodis, etc., represent a healthy break within the hardboiled tradition, as I have granted they do, that break came a long time ago, not too long after Chandler's model. Hell, it was contemporaneous enough that Chandler scripted (and in his mind improved) a Cain book for the screen. I'm not sure it hasn't gelled into a mold as proscriptive as the PI model.

Don't we now see "In the vein of Cain and Thompson" as often as we used to see "In the tradition of Chandler, Hammett and Macdonald," later to be replaced with "As good as Parker's Spenser"?

As much as I like Jason Starr, Vicki Hendricks' Miami Purity, Kent Harrington's Dark Ride, Terrill Lankford's Shooters, etc. don't we immediately identify each as being an update of one of those earlier authors -- for instance, Miami Purity is a "female Thompson."

And didn't each of those earlier authors develop a distinctive plot structure upon which many of their books rely? (Willeford is one of the glorious exceptions to all of these comments.) And I don't see anything wrong with that. I like to see how convention and innovation play out against each other. I'm just not willing to say any of these writers are any less genre bound (even if they did much to identify the nature of their chosen genre, as Chandler did) than the PI writers. And I'm not sure I'd say their world view is any more complex or nonreassuring than the PI writers.

I have to go to work now, but later I'll add that the modern PIs are not nearly as all powerful and world-renewing as Juri states, right down to David Brandstetter's solutions never save his insurance company employers any money, often lead to bigger pay-offs. More later.


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 01 Mar 2001 EST