Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler's Influence

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 14 Dec 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "JIM DOHERTY" <>

> What I CAN say is that,
> post-Chandler, the idea of a the hard-boiled PI being
> an American who worked out of (if not always in) a
> large American city became so iron-clad an ingredient
> of the PI novel that even writers who'd never set foot
> in the US, like James Hadley Chase, wrote about
> American private eyes in American cities, and
> characters like Jo Gar, who weren't particularly
> numerous to begin with, became even more rare.

Chase was known to have visited both Miami and New Orleans. To claim that he never set foot in the US is inaccurate.

Of his 80 or so novels, less than ten percent feature PIs. He's known as a thriller writer, not as a PI writer.

However, given that he did write a few PI novels, let's look at his most famous. Featuring PI, Dave Fenner, NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH was written in 1938 and published the following year. THE BIG SLEEP was also published in 1939. I find it hard to see how the large American city setting element of the Marlowe Paradigm (or any other element) established by THE BIG SLEEP, could have influenced Chase when neither he, nor anyone else, had read it.

Chase is hugely imitative. That's undeniable. But Chandler?

And, Jim, lots of fictional private eyes operate outside American cities. For a local example, Quintin Jardine's Oz Blackstone (when he's not in Spain) and Paul Johnston's Quintilian Dalrymple are both based in Edinburgh.


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