Cracking the Hard-Boiled Detective: A Critical History from the 1920s to the Present

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McFarland, Feb 17, 2006 - Literary Criticism - 306 pages
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The hard-boiled private detective is among the most recognizable characters in popular fiction since the 1920s--a tough product of a violent world, in which police forces are inadequate and people with money can choose private help when facing threatening circumstances. Though a relatively recent arrival, the hard-boiled detective has undergone steady development and assumed diverse forms. This critical study analyzes the character of the hard-boiled detective, from literary antecedents through the early 21st century. It follows change in the novels through three main periods: the Early (roughly 1927-1955), during which the character was defined by such writers as Carroll John Daly, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler; the Transitional, evident by 1964 in the works of John D. MacDonald and Michael Collins, and continuing to around 1977 via Joseph Hansen, Bill Pronzini and others; and the Modern, since the late 1970s, during which such writers as Loren D. Estleman, Liza Cody, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton and many others have expanded the genre and the detective character. Themes such as violence, love and sexuality, friendship, space and place, and work are examined throughout the text.
 

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Contents

Poe Conan Doyle and the HardBoiled Detective Novel
7
EARLY PERIOD
25
The Creation of Character
37
Violence Direction and Control
48
Decaying Worlds
60
Work Discourse and Danger
70
Sexuality and Discovery
81
Friendship The Absent Theme
91
The Quality of Change Individual Lives and Social Transformation
165
MODERN PERIOD
175
Violence Echoes and Conversions
184
Better Places
194
Necessary Work
204
Sexuality and Diversity
214
Surviving Friendship
225
Multiples of Change
236

TRANSITIONAL PERIOD
101
Pervasive Violence
112
Expanded Space
123
Needed Work
134
Love and Sexuality
144
Friendship Faint Stirrings
155
The Uses of Memory
247
Lies and Deceit Family
258
Conclusion Expanding the Word
269
Bibliography
281
Index
289
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About the author (2006)

Lewis D. Moore, a retired professor of English, taught at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington for thirty years. He is also the author of Meditations on America: John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee Series and Other Fiction (1994).

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