The Thrilling Detective Hall of Fame

I‘ve listed these eyes by the decade in which they first appeared, even though an eye’s career may span more than one decade, or even not make much of mark for several years after their first appearance.

They’re counted for what I consider their quality, entertainment value, reflection of their times, influence on the genre and… honestly? Whether I liked them or not. Yes, it’s all horribly subjective. 

By the way, this list is very much a work in progress…Feel free to contradict me, or suggest your own favourites. That’s what the comments section down there is for…

THE TWENTIES
Let There Be Light: The Real Deal

Three Gun Terry by Carroll John Daly

Race Williams by Carroll John Daly

The Continental Op by Dashiell Hammett

Ben Jardinn by Raoul Whitfield

THE THIRTIES
The Pulps and Beyond

Sam Spade by Dashiell Hammett

Nick and Nora Charles by Dashiell Hammett

Bill Crane by Jonathan Latimer

Jack Cardigan by Frederick Nebel

Tough Dick Donohue by Frederick Nebel

Jo Gar by Ramon Delacorta

Max Latin by Norbert Davis

Philip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler

Steve Midnight by John K. Butler

Mike Shayne by Brett Halliday

Dan Turner by Robert Leslie Bellem

Bertha Cool & Donald Lam by A.A. Fair

Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout

THE FORTIES
Apres la guerre

Lew Archer by Ross Macdonald

Ed Clive by Leigh Brackett

Karl Craven by Jonathan Latimer

Mike Hammer by Mickey Spillane

Ed and Am Hunter by Fredric Brown

Mac by Thomas B. Dewey

Paul Pine by Howard Browne

Max Thursday by Wade Miller

Carney Wilde by Bart Spicer

THE FIFTIES
Under the Hammer

The introduction of Mike Hammer in the late forties, the rise of a zillion pulpy and mostly inferior imitators, and the paperback industry that fostered it all, may have seemed to be have been all encompassing at the time, but in retrospect, some of the most interesting eyes of the era were moving the genre ahead, allowing for a little more social and cultural awareness.

Brock Callahan by William Campbell Gault

Peter Gunn by Blake Edwards

Grave Digger Jones & Coffin Ed Johnson by Chester Himes

Toussaint Moore by Ed Lacy

Jim Sader by Delores Hitchens

Shell Scott by Richard S. Prather

THE SIXTIES
‘Cos the Times, They Are A-Changin’

Dan Fortune by Michael Collins

Joe Mannix by Richard Levinson and William Link

Travis McGee by John D. MacDonald

Mitch Tobin by Tucker Coe (Donald Westlake)

THE SEVENTIES
The Renaissance (1): Everyone into the Pool

Jake Asch by Arthur Lyons

Pepe Carvalho by Manuel Vásquez Montalbán

Dan Kearney & Associates (DKA) by Joe Gores

Dave Brandstetter by Joseph Hansen

Jake Gittes by Robert Towne

Al Hickey & Frank Boggs by Walter Hill

Anna Lee by Liza Cody

Sharon McCone by Marcia Muller

Milo Milodragovitch by James Crumley

Harry Moseby by Alan Sharp (Night Moves)

Nameless by Bill Pronzini

Harry O by Howard Rodman

Toby Peters by Stuart Kaminsky

Jim Rockford by Stephen J. Cannell & Roy Huggins

Matt Scudder by Lawrence Block

John Shaft by Ernest Tidyman

Spenser by Robert B. Parker

C.W. Sughrue by James Crumley

Moses Wine by Roger Simon

THE EIGHTIES
The Renaissance (2): Come On In, The Water’s Fine

The eighties are when I really became interested in private eye fiction, and I’ll probably always have a weakness for that era. It was certainly an exciting time for the genre, particularly the series P.I. So many launched in the seventies were just hitting their stride, and in their wake  a whole bunch of new voices (Grafton, Paretsky, Mosley, Burke, et al) entered the genre. In retrospect, you can see that the slew of non-pale males and other fresh voices beginning to pop up were not so much a shake-up as a logical progression, following what had been going on in the seventies (and arguably, the sixties as well).

Burke by Andrew Vachss

Fred Carver by John Lutz

Frank Clemons by Thomas H. Cook

Elvis Cole by Robert Crais

John Francis Cuddy by Jeremiah Healy

Leo Haggerty by Benjamin J. Schutz

Cliff Hardy by Peter Corris

Nate Heller by Max Allan Collins

Kinsey Millhone by Sue Grafton

John Marshall Tanner by Stephen Greenleaf

Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty

Ben Perkins by Rob Kantner

Mitch Roberts by Gaylord Dold

Dan Roman by Edward Mathis

Harry Stoner by Jonathan Valin

Thorn by James W. Hall

Amos Walker by Loren D. Estleman

V.I. Warshawski by Sara Paretsky

THE NINETIES
Sisters (and Everyone Else, It Seems) Are Doing It For Themselves

Vinnie Calvino by Christopher G. Moore

Lydia Chin and Bill Smith by S. J. Rozan

Lionel Essrog by Jonathan Lethem

Lew Griffin by James Sallis

Milan Jacovich by Les Roberts

Patrick Kenzie & Angela Gennaro by Dennis Lehane

Jack Liffey by John Shannon

Tess Monaghan by Laura Lippman

Ivan Monk by Gary Phillips

Charlie Parker by John Connolly

Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich

Precious Ramotswe by Alexander McCall Smith

Easy Rawlins by Walter Mosely

Jack Reacher by Lee Child

Hector Belascoarán Shayne by Paco Ignacio Taibo II

Nick Stefanos by George Pelecanos

THE OH-OHS
Or is it “The Noughties”?

Frank Behr by David Levien

Lisbeth Salander & Mikael Blomkvist by Stieg Larsson

Norm Carpenter & Al Hasp by Jon L. Breen

Ray Dudgeon by Sean Chercover

Josephine “Joe” Flannigan by Sara Gran

Cal Innes by Ray Banks

Joe Kurtz by Dan Simmons

Ed Loy by Declan Hughes

John March by Peter Spiegelman

J. McNee by Russel D. McLean

Dex Parios by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth

Moe Prager by Reed Farrel Coleman

Derek Strange & Terry Quinn by George Pelecanos

Jack Taylor by Ken Bruen

THE OH-TEENS

Tommy Akhtar by Patrick Neate

Spero Lucas by George P. Pelecanos

Gus Murphy by Reed Farrel Coleman

Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas

Cormoran Strike by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling)


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