Re your question below:
"Apropos of Spencer in his dotage, does anyone recall a PI story published in the last decade in which there's an exchange between the PI and his assistant/secretary wherein the assistant complains about the [unnamed] detective novel she's reading, the implausible agility of its Korean-War-veteran hero and the obnoxiousness of his girl friend and their dog. The PI asks why she's continuing the read the book. She replies that she keeps hoping the novel's PI will come to his senses and shoot the dog, and then the girlfriend."
I don't think I've seen that one.
However, I do recall that, in one of Warren Murphy's Trace novels (or maybe one of his Digger novels), there's a scene set in the late lamented mystery lover's bar, Bogey's in New York, in which a Boston PI wanders in, orders a glass of some obscure European beer, got drunk after taking one sip, and then attempted to engage the bartender in a discussion about the meaning of courage.
And in one of Loren Estleman's Amos Walker novels (for my money, the best current Chandler imitator, and the best at the use of simile and metaphor after Chandler), there a scene in which he picks up a private eye novel by a well-known author, and then throws it down in disgust, irritated by the hero who (and I'm quoting from memory) "had to take out his sense of ethics every few pages and look at it as though it were a pocket watch."
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