Re: RARA-AVIS: Cracking the Hardboiled Detective and Bruen

From: Patrick King (
Date: 18 Dec 2006

I believe, in the 18th century, the idea of an amateur detective was one who did not work for a police force or an agency. Holmes, not surprisingly as he was modeled closely in DuPin, was also referred to as an amateur detective although he clearly received payment for his work, too. This is all before the concept of
"private detective." Consider too Horning's books about Raffles 'the amateur cracksman.' Actually, Raffles was an amateur cricket player, which meant he was hired for private cricket matches as a sort of ringer, but he didn't play for a specific team. Today we consider an amateur a hobbyist, someone not good enough to be a professional. In the 18th century an amateur was highly skilled but chose to, or due to his class and upbringing, had to do something else for a livlihood. For example, Louis XVI was an amateur watchmaker. By all accounts he was a better watchmaker than he was a king, but there was not question of a person born a monarch becoming a tradesman. As is true today, being an amateur did not preclude a person from being paid, it just did not guarantee pay as being a professional does.

Patrick King
--- Michael Robison <> wrote:

> Well, thought I'd write a quick post before I head
> up
> to Chicago for some meetings Monday and Tuesday. I
> got a new hardboiled criticism book called Cracking
> the Hardboiled Detective. By a fellow named Moore.
> It looks like it might be readable. At least he
> hasn't decided to entertain some ridiculous thesis
> like hardboiled is all a variation on the Prodigal
> Son
> story, or that hardboiled is only relevant when it
> deals with "crimes of state." All Moore's going for
> is following recurrent themes from its origin
> through
> to the present. Page two and he makes a mistake by
> declaring Poe's Dupin to be a "pure amateur." If I
> recall correctly, Dupin demands and gets payment
> from
> the police on at least one of his jobs.
> I have been reading nonfiction almost exclusively
> for
> the last few months, but since there's been a lot of
> praise for Bruen, I've packed The White Trilogy in
> my
> bag. I read the first a while ago. I'll give the
> second a go. I read a few pages last night. I also
> threw Goodis's Cassidy's Girl in for good measure.
> miker
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