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Eugene Francois Vidocq

The ‘private eye’ in literature begins with the real-life character of Eugene Francois Vidocq

The place to look for the origins of the literary private eye is in 19th century France with the character of Eugene Francois Vidocq.

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Ross Macdonald

Ross Macdonald takes hard-boiled fiction to new levels of style and plot

Just when the reading world thought that the hard-boiled detective novel had reached its zenith with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, along comes Ross Macdonald. The similarities among the lives of Hammett, Chandler, and Macdonald (whose real name was Kenneth Millar) are striking and significant: All had difficult and disruptive childhoods. Each, for a time, […]

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Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler: a troubled author who raised the level of hard-boiled detective fiction

Raymond Chandler brought a level of emotional complexity to his characters that had never been seen before in hard-boiled detective fiction.

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Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe and the development of the mystery novel

Poe lays down the rules of a mystery novel.

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Sue Grafton

G is for Grafton: Mystery writer Sue Grafton succumbs to cancer at age 77

Sue Grafton’s private eye, Kinsey Millhone, has taken her place beside Hammett’s Sam Spade, Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe, and Macdonald’s Lew Archer.

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Dashiell Hammett (watercolor, Jim Stovall, 2017)

More on the ‘private eye’ and Dashiell Hammett; lots of reader response this week

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,431) on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. Hi,  A lot of you readers took the time to respond to various parts of the newsletter last week, and I have included some of those responses here. Thanks to you all. Your responses make great reading, and I […]

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Dashiell Hammett (watercolor, Jim Stovall, 2017)

The ‘private eye,’ in the beginning: Dashiell Hammett

Dashiell Hammett knew what a private detective should be. He knew because he had been one, and he had been taught by the very best. Born in Maryland in 1894, Hammett had failed at most everything he tried in the first two decades of his life. Intelligent, tall, and handsome, he did not finish school, […]

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typewriter-cup

The private eye’s business is trouble; newsletter, Dec. 22, 2017

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,466) on Friday, Dec. 22, 2017.     Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year. Tis the season to celebrate, and there are lots of good greetings out there. I wish you good fellowship, good friends and family, good food, good music, and […]

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The Private Eye (watercolor by Jim Stovall)

Trouble is their business: the ‘private eye’ and the writers who created them

The opening scene of Raymond Chandler’s story Trouble is My Business tells you a lot in a very few words about Chandler’s “private eye,” Phillip Marlowe. Marlow is talking to a woman who runs a detective agency, a big one with several agents. But none of her people is suitable for the job she has. […]

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typewriter-cup

A ‘day’ becomes a ‘date’; Poe’s rules for detective fiction; a little bit of Henry Fowler

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (4,140) on Friday, Dec. 8, 2017. Hi,  Last week’s question: Were there no Americans before 1776? An answer came in from newsletter reader and good friend Jane P: There were many Americans long before 1776, in the numerous Native American societies and groups across what became the […]

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