Re your comment below:
"Certainly it's not a new idea -- more than one wag has suggested that
some of the detective work in Conan Doyle's work owes quite a bit to
Natty Bumpo's 'tracking' in Cooper's LAST OF THE MOHICANS, and whether
it was conscious or not, Hammett himself wrote a couple of westerny
Your comment reminded me that roughly half of the very first Holmes story, the novel A STUDY IN SCARLET, is not a tale of criminal investigation in Victorian London, but a tale of Mormon pioneers settling the Western frontier, and it includes plot elements that anticipate Zane Grey's RIDERS OF THE PURPLE SAGE.
A case could be made that A STUDY IN SCARLET is the very first western/mystery cross-genre piece.
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