Our recent remarks on Rex Miller started a rare train of thought in my mind. Is physical sadism an inherent part of the appeal behind these kinds of books? I think it is clear that it may play a role in the interest in Jim Thompson, Jim Cain, George Higgins, and some of the other guys at the "noir" end of the spectrum. But what about the others?
For the hard-boiled PIs, I cannot really think of many times that they have dished out torture or other really rough stuff, though I think I must be forgetting a Mike Hammer scene or two. But most of the PI's took abuse more than they gifted it out. Marlowe, Beaumont, Archer, even James Bond get the crap tortured out of them but they rarely if ever take advantage of a temporary upper hand to physically skullfuck their adversaries.
I can't speak with knowledge about all these writers' S&M proclivities, but it is very well documented that Ian Fleming was a practitioner of punishment and bondage. His wife left her husband, a member of the English peerage, to marry Fleming because she liked the way he spanked her. In an extent letter, she tells him she cannot live without him beating her. Their relationship is the subject of several S&M websites and all of Fleming's biographers mention this trait, some apologizing for it, some not. Their son died of a drug overdoes a few years after his father's death.
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