Re: RARA-AVIS: The Continental Detective Agency

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 19 Oct 2002

Liza Cody's Anna Lee works for a large London agency owned by a retired policeman who works closely with the police. Lee herself had put in several years as a policeman. Later, Lee employs Eva Wylie, but I don't remember whether Lee's still an employee or has gone out on her own. Lots of authors
(e.g., Rucka, Munger) work for or run small agencies, but Cody's the only one that comes to mind that fits the Op pattern.


William Denton <> mused:
> Continental Op stories usually start with the Op going to see the person
> that hired the agency and interviewing them about the case. He doesn't
> sit around in an office waiting for work wondering where the money will
> come from. In fact he and the other operatives seem busy all the time.
> He never mentions details about how much the agency charges.
> The Op works very closely with the police, and he's pretty much a private
> cop. (The Pinkertons could be a private army sometimes.) An entire half
> of the cliched hardboiled dick doesn't apply to him. Maybe he's just a
> short, fat, middle-aged middle-class guy who has a job he likes, but it's
> not his life.
> What post-Continental Op characters worked for a large agency? I can't
> think of any. Spade had a partner (for a while), Marlowe worked alone.
> They're the two classic characters. In the '20s, was BLACK MASK running
> other stories about agencies? Did that background just die out, or was
> the Op rare even then?
> I seem to remember that Jonathan Latimer's Bill Crane worked for a small
> agency, but three or ten people is nothing to the Continental's reach.
> They had branches everywhere and always extra operatives available to
> help.

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