Re: RARA-AVIS: women PIs/fantasy worlds

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 21 Aug 2001

<How admirable or idealistic was that [Spade's actions]?>>

Not very. He functions with one goal in mind, and that is to solve some problems. He's just like Parker, except he's not a professional criminal. I wouldn' trust Spade or the Op. for a minute.

The Chandler-Hammett dichotomy is real and runs deep. I would say that Hammett has had more spiritual descendants among modern writers. The influence is not direct, but it's there, in the nonchalance, the cold-bloodedness and the precision of the pro doing what he needs to do. Not even Ross Macdonald is immune to the Hammett influence. The Blue Hammer is the kind of book that the old Hammett might have written (while drunk on godknowswhatstuff). If you'll allow, it's The Thin Man of the seventies.

Chandler's style has been imitated, but a hero like Marlowe cannot be duplicated. He's not suitable as a prototype. Yes, I know that Howard Browne aped him, and rather well at that, but we cynically read it as a copy. I wonder if this was so when the Paul Pine novels first came out.

With Easy Rawlins we have a new prototype, one that so far has not been imitated (to my knowledge). He's not a P.I., so the conventions don't apply to him, yet he has the freedom and the need to do some sleuthing. He doesn't do it for money but for reasons of survival. It's a good idea, a good slant on the P.I. story. At the same time, it hardly shares any ground with the "amateur sleuth" story. It's hardboiled stuff.




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