RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: hardboiled comedy

From: John Williams (
Date: 07 Mar 2005

  Other good example of hardboiled caper/comedy is Donald Westlake's
  Dortmunder series.

  -Dave Z.

  I think there's a distinction to be made between comedy capers written by authors who also write hardboiled - Dortmunder, The Thin Man etc - and writing that is genuinely both hardboiled and comic. This stuff is pretty rare - Jim Thompson's Pop 1280 definitely fits the bill, as does Charlie Williams' Deadfolk (though his almost namesake Charles Williams' The Diamond Bikini maybe doesn't quite). Elmore Leonard is pretty good at inserting comic moments into a hardboiled narrative, though don't take Be Cool as an example as it's probably the worst book he's ever written. The opening sequence from Freaky Deaky with the booby trapped toilet is pretty definitive hardboiled comic. George V. Higgins too has plenty of funny moments. In the case of both Higgins and Leonard though it's mostly about finding the humour in everyday life, rather than the surreal slapstick of, say, a Carl Hiaasen.


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