The Truman Gumshoes

The Postwar Detective Fiction of Mickey Spillane, Ross Macdonald, Wade Miller and Bart Spicer


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About the Book

The hard-boiled style of detective fiction emerged in America in the years after the First World War. In the late 1940s, following the Depression, the New Deal, and the Second World War, a new generation of young writers revisited the conventions governing the fictional private eye, and began to move him (the tough detective was still always male) and his world in new directions. This book examines the work of the four most important writers of this second generation of hard-boiled fiction. It offers the first substantial literary analysis of the Max Thursday novels of Wade Miller and the Carney Wilde novels of Bart Spicer, and it develops new perspectives on the well-known Mike Hammer novels of Mickey Spillane and the Lew Archer novels of Ross Macdonald. A particular focus is upon the theme of the detective’s status as a loner who succeeds in discovering truth and achieving justice because he works outside organized social structures.

About the Author(s)

J.K. Van Dover taught in the English Department of Lincoln University for 38 years; he has also taught as a Fulbright Professor of American Literature in Germany, China, Austria, and Slovakia. He has published extensively on detective fiction.

Bibliographic Details

J.K. Van Dover

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 195
Bibliographic Info: appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8802-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4541-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: Four Post–World War II Approaches to Detective Fiction 5
1. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer 23
2. Wade Miller’s Max Thursday 49
3. Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer 65
4. Bart Spicer’s Carney Wilde 90
5. The Solitary Detective Against the Organization Man: From Dupin to Lew Archer 107
Appendix I. Between Black Mask and the Truman Dicks: Stout, Davis, Halliday 153
Appendix II. The Doheny Case / The Cassidy Case 155
Appendix III. Brief Lives of the Truman Writers, 1915–1952 161
Chapter Notes 167
Bibliography 181
Index 185