Beginning in the 1970s, a new generation of writers took over the hard-boiled story (created by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett) and transformed it to fit the realities of their world—a universe infected by violence, greed, racism, sexism, war, and commercialism. Their protagonists, too, are far different from Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.
The author comments both on the way the hard-boiled story has changed over the past three decades and examines the work of ten significant contemporary hard-boiled writers. Chapters on Robert B. Parker, James Crumley, Loren Estleman, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Carl Hiaasen, Earl Emerson, Robert Crais, James Lee Burke, and Walter Mosley demonstrate how these writers have used the hard-boiled hero to make powerful statements about life in the last quarter of the twentieth century.
American crime fiction has developed into writing that has a commitment to democracy and the democratic way of life, a compassion and empathy and a style which has created a significant branch of American literature.
Detective stories should be examined from a literary point of view, with special attention to literary history and to materials and patterns from which the writers created their fictions. This book sheds new light into the fascinating field of detective fiction.