Saturday, March 26, 2011

Contrasting types of detectives

"Boston Blackie" - as you may know - is the blog's biggest fan and I try to get him to write here as much as possible.  His ideas are always interesting and thought-provoking.  

Like last week's article on John Brown, we teamed up again, this time tackling the different types of detectives.

Boston Blackie:  While on one of my morning walks, my mind went to detective shows.  There are numerous types of detectives.    Let’s take Philip Marlowe.  Much of what you get here is Marlowe talking to you about his thoughts.  Pat Novak and Jeff Regan do the same.  They describe in their minds about women figures and features.  Marlowe also talks about the horizon, ocean, sun rising or settings and things like that.  Pat Novak you get, well you get ‘the stuff Pat Novak says.’  These detectives provide you information about their cases through the thinking process and share it out loud with the listener.  They seem more calculating then the other camp of detectives.  They do not have constant sidekicks that they bounce ideas off.  The other camp like Boston Blackie and Nick Carter is different.  They are mainly about action.  Yes, they think as well, but, you do not hear their thoughts.  You get dialogue between Boston Blackie and Sargent  Farraday or his friend Mary.  Nick Carter converses with Patsy.   The show relies on action. 

We can go down the list of detective shows and place them for the most part into these two camps.  I do not think one is necessarily better than the other.  One thing I know is that late at night when listening to the first camp described above I fall asleep faster during the show.  Not because the story is not good, because they are good, but, because a lot of the show is the same voice.  You get their interaction with people, but much is their thinking process which is their voice.

Jimbo: This is very interesting.  I believe there are actually four camps of detectives.  The two you mentioned and then add a deductive thinker (such as Sherlock Holmes)  and I also think there is the humorous detective too (such as The Saint.)  Both these new camps may see some action and there may some narration in him, but the deducer has a very clever mind and the comic 's got a sense of humor. 

Boston Blackie:  You are right Jimbo, within these two contrasting styles there are additional differences.  Some detective shows display humor within their crime stories.   Some detectives use lots of deduction reasoning to solve their crimes.  In fact the deduction reasoning often is the heart of the story, like Sherlock Holmes.  In some shows, there is a narrator or detective providing narration on what is taking place.  Other shows the detective provides a description to set a scene.  What kind of show is more effective?  Depends on what you like.  It is totally up to the listener to determine the kind they like to listen to.  

[After days of going back and forth on the subject, we came up with this list...]

  • Casebook of Gregory Hood
  • Casey, Crime Photographer
  • Mr. District Attorney
  • Nick Carter, Master Detective
  • Bulldog Drummond
  • Casebook of Gregory Hood
  • The Chase
  • I Love a Mystery
  • Mystery Is My Hobby
  • Nick Carter, Master Detective

  • Broadway is My Beat
  • The Falcon
  • Jeff Regan
  • Fat Man
  • Nero Wolfe
  • Frank Race
  • Pat Novak
  • Johnny Madero, Pier 23
  • I Hate Crime
  • Barry Craig
  • Rocky Jordan
  • Michael Shayne
  • Johnny Madero

  • Boston Blackie
  • Let George Do It
  • Mr. and Mrs. North
  • Richard Diamond
  • Rogue's Gallery
  • The Saint
  • Thin Man
  • Rocky Fortune
  • Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective

  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Candy Matson
  • Ellery Queen
  • Charlie Chan
  • Mr. Keen: Tracer of Lost Persons
  • Address Unknown
  • Inspector Thorne
  • Philo Vance

  • Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (This show seems to have equal parts of all  four elements!)

Jimbo: At one point of this conversation, we had "newspaper crime fighters" (Big Town, City Desk, etc.) , superheroes (The Adventures of Superman, Green Hornet, etc.) and about nine other categories.  We wisely backed out of that, although, it was interesting.

Boston Blackie:  We did go beyond detectives because there are so many good other types of shows to consider.  We went from Detectives to Law and Order and to Crime Fighters.  They all try to get the criminals locked up and put away.  But for now it is the detective that we decided to describe the differences. 

©Jimbo 2010/2011


  1. I like it when you two bounce ideas off each other. This was good stuff.

  2. Hi anonymous. Thanks for the comment. All the credit has to go to Boston Blackie, he comes up with these ideas.


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