RARA-AVIS: Last Minute Nominations

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 31 Mar 2002

I hesitated to nominate George Gideon (series of novels by John "J.J. Marric" Creasey), a seminal figure in the police procedural sub-genre and one of my personal favorites, because, being the stolid British gentleman that he was, he struck me as not quite "common" enough, tough though he was, to qualify as "hard-boiled." But since others have nominated a couple of much-beloved cop characters I had similar doubts about, Maigret and Beck, I feel comfortable adding Gideon to the list.

In that same vein, I'll nominate Inspector DeCock
(sometimes spelled as "DeKoK" in US editions, a series of novels by Cornelius Bjaantjer), a very popular series of European procedurals by a retired Dutch police officer who is the most popular writer in the Netherlands.

Also Mike Shayne (series of novels by Davis "Brett Halliday" Dresser, many short stories by numerous ghosts using the "Halliday" byline including our own James Reasoner), one of the longest-running and most consistently popular series of PI novels ever published and one of the few characters strong enough to sustain his own magazine for more than 20 years
(Ellery Queen lent his name to the magazine but not his character in each and every issue; the Saint didn't last as long as Shayne).

Also Delilah West (series of novels by Maxine O'Callahan), a tough female PI who predates both Kinsey Milhone and V.I. Warshawski.

Also Neil Fargo (INTERFACE and one short story the title of which I can't remember, both by Joe Gores). If the DKA series is Gores's equivalent to the Continental Op, then Fargo is his Sam Spade.

Finally, Terry Mack/Race Williams (series of novels and short stories by Carroll John Daly). I list them as a single character because, for practical purposes they're the same person, in the same way that Chandler's Carmady and Dalmas were the same character as Marlowe. Daly didn't have the raw talent and genuine toughness of Hammett (whom he beat into print by just a few months), nor the gift for language of Chandler, nor the ability to grow and learn of Gardner, but there's no denying that he was the first of the "BLACK MASK boys," and his fingerprints have been and will be on every piece of hard-boiled crime fiction ever written.


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