Booze and the Private Eye

Alcohol in the Hard-Boiled Novel


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About the Book

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.

About the Author(s)

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 Carré, Dorothy Sayers, and William Faulkner. She lives in Orangevale, California.

Bibliographic Details

Rita Elizabeth Rippetoe

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 215
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2004
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1899-2
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8153-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      5

Dashiell Hammett: “Behind in Our Drinking”      33
Raymond Chandler: “Alcohol Was No Cure for This”      60
Mickey Spillane: “Can’t Spell Cognac”      86
Robert B. Parker: “This Was No Job for a Poet”      106
Lawrence Block: “A Wide-Awake Drunk”      130
“Groomed to This End for Years”: The Rise of the Woman PI      158
Conclusion      176

Bibliography      189
Primary Sources      189
Critical Sources      191
Index      197

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Finalist, Edgar Allan Poe Award—Mystery Writers of America
  • “Good book…well written and persuasively argued…fascinating and enlightening”—Mystery Scene.