Booze and the Private Eye: Alcohol in the Hard-Boiled Novel

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McFarland, Aug 19, 2004 - Literary Criticism - 215 pages
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The hard-bitten PI with a bottle of bourbon in his desk drawer--it's an image as old as the genre of hard-boiled detective fiction itself. Alcohol has long been an important element of detective fiction, but it is no mere prop. Rather, the treatment of alcohol within the works informs and illustrates the detective's moral code, and casts light upon the society's attitudes towards drink. This examination of the role of alcohol in hard-boiled detective fiction begins with the genre's birth, in an era strongly influenced and affected by prohibition, and follows both the genre's development and its relation to our changing understanding of and attitudes towards alcohol and alcoholism. It discusses the works of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, Robert B. Parker, Lawrence Block, Marcia Muller, Karen Kijewski and Sue Grafton. There are bibliographies of both the primary and critical texts, and an index of authors and works.
 

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Contents

Alcohol Was No Cure for This
60
Cant Spell Cognac
86
This Was No Job for a Poet
106
A WideAwake Drunk
130
The Rise of the Woman PI
158
Conclusion
176
Bibliography
189
Index
197
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Page 14 - But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.
Page 13 - The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations and almost rule cities, in which hotels and apartment houses and celebrated restaurants are owned by men who made their money out of brothels, in which a screen star can be the...
Page 13 - ... is a boss of the numbers racket; a world where a judge with a cellar full of bootleg liquor can send a man to jail for having a pint in his pocket, where the mayor of your town may have condoned murder as an instrument of money-making, where no man can walk down a dark street in safety because law and order are things we talk about but refrain from practising...
Page 48 - If it works out the way I want it to, I won't have to report all the distressing details," I said. "It's right enough for the Agency to have rules and regulations, but when you're out on a job you've got to do it the best way you can.
Page 13 - It is not a very fragrant world, but it is the world you live in, and certain writers with tough minds and a cool spirit of detachment can make very interesting and even amusing patterns out of it.

About the author (2004)

Rita Elizabeth Rippetoe is an independent scholar of genre fiction, with an emphasis on detective fiction. She has written on a variety of subjects, including the works of John le Carre, Dorothy Sayers, and William Faulkner. She lives in Orangevale, California.

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