Re: RARA-AVIS: Future of the Genre

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 31 Aug 2002

Rene said:
> I don't know about the US but here in the Antipodes private dicking
> seems to be an ever-growing industry (one of the few), to the point of
> where late-night television has ads recruiting potential applicants to a
> training course. The work mostly consists of surveilling & videotaping
> insurance claimants fixing their flat tires, etc, as I understand it. I
> guess they might do missing person stuff - they were certainly doing it
> in the 1960's when my mother hired one (long story) but I think
> insurance co's are the bread & butter of the "pi" business in Australia.
> I think the training course advertised mostly consists of learning how
> to use a vidcam, from what I heard from a guy who actually went for the
> job (he preferred it to the public service - go figure).
> Oh, yeah - he never mentioned anything about any beautiful, mysterious &
> deadly female clients but I think he's just trying to keep a good thing
> to himself.

********** I talked to a school friend a few years out of high school, and he had become a private investigator. And yes, what he said confirms what you say. Divorce work and insurance claims take up the majority of his time. I can still remember the gleam in his eye as he told me about getting tape of a guy off from work on a back-injury disability pulling and pulling on a outboard motor cord trying to get it started.

Its not in front of me, but I think the original quote didn't actually say that the P.I. would become extinct, but that the romantic view we have of what he does is false. To be truthful, even the private investigators in fiction are known to complain about the hard realities of the job. Crumley's P.I. in THE LAST GOOD KISS couldn't hardly stand doing the work because of all the crummy divorce work involved. And Gores's CASES showed some P.I. work that might be closer to reality, although it also had a really kick-butt underlying plot and a higher body count than anything I've read in a long time.


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