RARA-AVIS: My Twenty

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 06 Apr 2002

I did a quick pass through the list checking names and was surprised I ended up with twenty. A day or two of thought and several not chosen clammered to get in. Eventually, three changes were made. Several were such close calls that if I don't send this now, I will continue to fiddle with it.

Here they are in the order they appeared on the list:

(11) Artie Wu & Quincy Durant (series, Ross Thomas)
(35) C.W. Shugrue (series, James Crumley
(50) Coffin Ed Johnson &Gravedigger Jones (series, Chester Himes)
(59) Dave Brandstetter (series, Joseph Hansen)
(64) Detective Sergeant Depart of Unexplained Deaths (series, Derek Raymond)
(92) Frank Chambers (POSTMAN ALWAYS..., (James M. Cain)
(109) Harry aka Hieronymus Bosch (series, Michael Connelly)
(113) Hoke Moseley (series, Charles Willeford)
(152) Lew Archer (series, Ross Macdonald)
(166) Mario Balzic (series, K.C. Constantine)
(180) Mike Hammer (series Mickey Spillane)
(195) Nameless (series, Bill Pronzini)
(202) Nick Stefanos (series, George Pelecanos)
(205 Parker (series, Richard Stark)
(208) Paul Pine (series, Howard Browne)
(212) Philip Marlowe (series, Raymond Chandler)
(234) Sam Spade (MALTESE FALCON, Dashiell Hammett)
(249) Steve Carella (87th Precinct series, Ed McBain)
(252) The Continental Op (series, Dashiell Hammett)
(261) Travis McGee (series, John D. MacDonald)

Well, damn, as I typed them out, I made other changes, trying to take away one as I found myself compelled to add someone in. Finished, I counted back and had 21, so one had to go. For the record, that one was Elmore Leonard's Jack Ryan. That one was always a bit shaky as other Leonard characters tempted me for substitution. The other runner-ups were Joe Friday, Joe Gall and Joe Puma. Hmm...slaughter among the "Joes" and with Jack Ryan all the Js fell off the list.

I tried to balance significance with personal favorites. Whether or not I considered a character hard-boiled was a factor, although several close calls
(Nameless and Brandstetter) made the list. With a broader look mystery/crime fiction, I would have Maigret and George Smiley ranked above many of the 20 here.

Anyway, that's my list.

Richard Moore

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