RE: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled Character Traits

From: Anthony Dauer (
Date: 01 May 2002

He accepts a pay check just like every other private eye in the genre, except for some occasions and for the same reason that any trench-coated PI of the classic era would. Need outweighing the necessity of payment. Again it boils down to time and culture. You're not going to have a lower class Victorian opening up a detective agency. Nor is Holmes obviously upper middle class. He lives in modest rooms that if anything evidence a modest financial reserve. His brother's position is one of acquired position through superior ability, not necessarily or obviously a position of nepotism or birthright. There's plenty of examples of Holmes working the streets, dressing the part, walking the walk and talking the talk. As far as waiting for his clients to come to him, I recall Anthony Neil Smith of Plots With Guns lamenting recently on the volume of PI stories beginning in the PI's office ... so I'd hardly hold it against Holmes doing the same. As far as playing the violin, it isn't that far away from that to Marlow's chess set.

... besides what is that coat he wears other than an earlier version of the latter day trench coat.

Anthony Dauer
Alexandria, Virginia

2nd Annual Country Noir Issue ...
... submit by 4 May 2002
-----Original Message----- From: Jess Nevins Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2002 8:39 PM
Loath though I am to enter this ultimately futile debate...Holmes isn't hardboiled, if only because of class. He's relatively comfortable and works because he wants to, not because he has to. He's fairly obviously of upper middle class, if not upper class, even if he's not a member of Society.
A more hard-boiled Victorian detective would be John Bennett's Tom Fox (from REVELATIONS OF A DETECTIVE, 1860), a cop who actually worked the streets rather than lounging about his apartment using drugs, playing the violin, and waiting for his clients to come to him.

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