Re: RARA-AVIS: Post-Traumatic stress disorder fb cliche; did it start with Lord Peter Wimsey

Date: 23 Jun 2008

"For Vietnam specifically, Sarge Steel gets named as the first comic book private eye to serve in the Vietnam War in the Fine Art of Murder by Max Allan Collins. Was he the first known fictional private eye in any genre to serve in the Vietnam war?"

Don't know when Sarge Steel was, but for novels, among the first Vietnam vet PIs must be Spenser (1973). But like Mack Bolan before him (1969), his time overseas gave him skills, not trauma. Same year, though, there were traumatized vets in Michael Z Lewin's Way We Die Now. However, they weren't PIs, but victims: a security guard company hired damaged vets and turned them into programmed killers.

I'm sure there were others between then and 1977, but here's an interesting speech from Thomas Harris's (recommended) Thomas Kyd:

"For some reason clients trust investigators with war records. They assume you're going to be methodical and tough. I didn't see any reason to tell Joe Elevel that of the four soldiers in the picture, one had an oil-burning junk habit, one had been court martialed for black market activities, another was now in a Mexican jail for drug possession, and the fourth, whose name was Thomas Kyd, had spent a month under psychiatric observation in a military hospital. I didn't tell him that it had taken me over three years to get out of the habit of throwing myself flat on the street when I heard a car backfiring. Was it the picture of me with a crew cut and in officer's uniform that decided him? I'll never know. He frowned at it a long time . . ."


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