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Hard-boiled Detectives

Raymond Chandler and Erle Stanley Gardner are among the authors that popularized a very different style of detective from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s cerebral sleuth Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie’s diminutive and dapper Hercule Poirot. In response to the rise of violent crime and gangs in America and the harsh conditions of the Depression and war eras, writers created much grittier tales and tougher characters, many of whom were little better than the criminals they pursued.

Hard-Boiled Detectives, first published by Gramercy Books of New York and Avenel New Jersey in 1992 and distributed by Random House Company, is a compilation of short stories originally found in pulp fiction magazines like Black Mask and Dime Detective. The chosen pieces are listed in order of dates from 1931 to 1953 and represent the variety of gumshoes and yarns of the genre niche. Ultimately, they are morality tales told with dark humour and pathos.

Who knows: If the publishing industry ever takes a nose dive, pulp fiction of the type that spawned the hard-boiled detectives just might come back as a local art form and give established authors a new venue and budding writers an opportunity.

Would you read a magazine dedicated to short stories of this or any other genre?