Matt Scudder

Created by Lawrence Block (1938--) Loads of fictional private eyes drink oceans of booze. Some become invincible, some become silly, some become virtual Einsteins of deduction. MATT SCUDDER had no such luck. He drank and became an alcoholic. He used to be one of New York's Finest, a decent-enough detective, honest enough to get by, … Continue reading Matt Scudder

Perry Mason

Created by Erle Stanley Gardner (1889-1970) PERRY MASON is Raymond Burr as a Defense Attorney, right? Not a P.I., right? Well, sorta. In the first ten or so books by pulpmeister Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry comes off as a particularly hard-boiled lawyer/detective, throwing his weight around, breaking and entering, and other private eye shenanigans, not above … Continue reading Perry Mason

Willis Gidney

Created by Thomas Kaufman It took me quite a while to warm to WILLIS GIDNEY, the “half-assed” young, streetwise DC private eye/scam artist hero of Drink the Tea (2010), an occasionally frustrating but ultimately promising debut, the winner of the 2011 St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel Contest. Initially, I wasn’t … Continue reading Willis Gidney

Duncan Maclain

Created by Baynard H. KendrickPseudonyms include Richard Hayward(1894-1977) Blinded in World War I, wealthy, dashing CAPTAIN DUNCAN MACLAIN moves to New York and sets up a detective agency, aided by his partner, Spud Savage (is that a great name or what?) and his secretary (and Spud's wife) Rena. Rounding out the staff are Duncan's two specially-trained German … Continue reading Duncan Maclain

Bernie Gunther

Created by Philip Kerr (1956-2018) "Murders were a lot easier to catch before Hitler came to power... for one thing, they weren't so thick on the ground as they are now." -- Bernie in The One from the Other When we first meet him, in March Violets (1989), BERNIE GUNTHER is a former German soldier … Continue reading Bernie Gunther

Coffin Ed Johnson & Grave Digger Jones

Created by Chester Himes (1908-84) "We just get pissed-off with all the red tape...We just want to get down to the nitty-gritty." - Grave Digger in Blind Man With a Pistol "I don't want no niggers on this lot." -- Jack Warner's alleged outburst, before firing Himes One of the true masters of the genre, … Continue reading Coffin Ed Johnson & Grave Digger Jones

Race Williams

Created by Carroll John Daly (1889-1958) "Sometimes... one hunk of lead is worth all the thought in the world" -- from "Not My Corpse" "I have brains, I suppose." -- from "The Snarl of the Beast" New York City's RACE WILLIAMS is generally considered to be the first "private eye," at least as we understand … Continue reading Race Williams

Precious Ramotswe

Created by Alexander McCall Smith One of the most unlikely but likable of private eyes, PRECIOUS RAMOTSWE is a fat jolly young (she's only 22 in the first novel) woman who sets up The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency in Gaborone, Botswana, thus becoming that emerging south African nation's first female detective. Although there's something downright … Continue reading Precious Ramotswe

Sam Spade

Created by Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) "When a man's partner is killed he's supposed to do something about it. It doesn't matter what you thought of him. He was your partner and you're supposed to do something about it." The original blonde Satan, Dashiell Hammett's SAM SPADE is one of the most important figures in the … Continue reading Sam Spade

Ed & Am Hunter

Created by Fredric Brown (1906-72) Chicago's own ED and AM HUNTER are one of the best, and most endearing and beloved private eye teams in the genre, and Frederic Brown was one of the most imaginative writers to ever grace the genre, so what's not to like? Young, brash, ambitious, idealistic Ed Hunter and his … Continue reading Ed & Am Hunter