Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dick Lochte's Top 20 Private Eye Novels

Ed here: In addition to being both a fine novelist and short story writer as well as a very perceptive critic,  Dick's is list especially interesting to me because he includes novels I've never seen on any other list before. And now I want to read or reread them. Keep scrolling down after the Top 20 Novels because Dick gets into movies and tv. Cool stuff. (This was originally published in the PWA newsletter)

TOP 20 PRIVATE EYE NOVELS (in alphabetical order – one per author or Chandler, Hammett and Macdonald would use up the 20)
1. Charles E. Alverson - Goodey’s Last Stand
2. Lawrence Block – Eight Million Ways to Die
3. Howard Browne – The Taste of Ashes
4. Raymond Chandler – The Long Goodbye
5. Robert Crais – L.A. Requiem
6. James Crumley – The Last Good Kiss
7. Stanley Ellin – The Eighth Circle
8. Earl W. Emerson – The Rainy City
9. Loren D. Estleman - Every Brilliant Eye
10. Joe Gores – Dead Skip
11. Sue Grafton – ‘K’ Is For Killer
12. Dashiell Hammett – The Maltese Falcon
13. Arthur Lyons – Hard Trade
14. Ross Macdonald – The Way Some People Die
15. Walter Mosley – Devil in a Blue Dress
16. Warren Murphy – Trace # 1
17. Robert B. Parker – The Judas Goat
18. T. Jefferson Parker – Silent Joe
19. Brad Solomon – The Open Shadow
20. Jonathan Valin – Day of Wrath

TOP 20 PRIVATE EYE MOVIES (in order of preference)
1. The Maltese Falcon (Huston/Bogart version)
2. Chinatown
3. Murder, My Sweet
4. Out of the Past
5. The Big Sleep (the original, not the Mitchum-Winner remake)
6. Twilight (with Paul Newman, not the vampire crap)
7. The Big Lebowski
8. Vertigo
9. Hickey and Boggs
10. Zero Effect
11. Kiss Me Deadly
12. Devil in a Blue Dress
13. Gumshoe
14. Farewell, My Lovely
15. The Thin Man
16. Harper
17. My Favorite Brunette
18. Night Moves
19. Tony Rome
20. PJ
I’m probably forgetting at least a half-dozen masterworks. There are a few other PI films that, while not quite top of the line, I do think are DVR-worthy: The Big Fix (adapted from Roger Simon’s debut novel), Michael Shayne Private Detective (with Lloyd Nolan), Fast Company (Melvyn Douglas in adaptation of a Harry Kurnitz thriller), The Runaround (Rod Cameron), Face Down (Joe Montegna), Nick Carter Master Detective, Hammett (from the Joe Gores novel) and Shamus (an all-but-forgotten Burt Reynolds movie, portions of which are like a Big Sleep rewrite).

TOP 20 TV PRIVATE EYES (in order of preference)
1. The Rockford Files - Jim Rockford
2. The Outsider – David Ross
3. Goodnight My Love (movie) – Francis Hogan and Arthur Boyle
4. Peter Gunn
5. Veronica Mars
6. The Dain Curse (miniseries) – The Continental Op, here named Hamilton Nash
7. Harry O – Harry Orwell
8. One Shoe Makes It Murder (movie) – Harold Shillman
9. The Underground Man (movie) – Lew Archer
10. City of Angels – Jake Axminster
11. Mike Hammer (Darren McGavin version)
12. Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (Stacy Keach version)
13. Tenspeed and Brownshoe – Lionel Whitney and E.L. Turner
14. Murphy’s Law – Daedalus Patrick Murphy
15. Vincent (miniseries) – Vincent Gallagher
16. Philip Marlowe (Phil Carey version)
17. Vengeance Unlimited – Mr. Chapel
18. The Equalizer – Robert McCall
19. Mannix
20. Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin, Timothy Hutton version)
There are many others worth a Netflicks or Hulu download, if available: 77 Sunset Strip’s Stu Bailey (preferably the very last episodes, minus the other regulars), Remington Steele, Moonlighting, Spenser For Hire, Simon & Simon, Magnum PI, Banacek, Charlie Grace, Hawaiian Eye’s Steele and Lopaka, Bourbon Street Beat’s Calhoun and Randolph, Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased), Dick Francis’ The Racing Game’s Sid Halley, Eyes, Snoops and two of the earliest sleuths, Martin Kane Private Eye (with William Gargan) and Man Against Crime’s Mike Barnett.


J. Kingston Pierce said...

Those certainly are great lists, Ed. But where did they appear originally? Or did Mr. Lochte simply supply you with them for this blog post?


RJR said...


We at PWA are poutting together a list of "Essentials." Lists are being sent to me. When I have them all I'm compile a final list of Essential novels, movies and t.v. shows, and then we'll do a press release. This is is keeping with TCM's Eddentials. Also, WWA often runs lists of their top westerns


Frank Loose said...

Interesting pics. As all lists do, this one has set me to thinking of glaring omissions (IMO), like Latimer's SOLOMON'S VINEYARD, Delores Hitchens' SLEEP WITH SLANDER, Roney Scott's (Gault) SHAKEDOWN. I'd take those three over half those listed. And I'd suggest GALTON CASE or ZEBRA STRIPED HEARSE as MacDonald's best.

No two people will come up with the same list. That's obvious. There's just too many strong candidates from which to choose. Thankfully!

Thanks for posting this.

Fred Blosser said...

Interesting lists. But where are Al Collins, Michael Collins, Norbert Davis, Benjamin Schutz, or Raoul Whitfield? Or Spillane for Pete's sake? Can't fathom choosing JUDAS GOAT over VALEDICTION or PROMISED LAND.

TWILIGHT didn't do much for me. I'd replace with THE GIRL HUNTERS, arguably the swan song for the private eye movie just before the Bond craze hit big.

Fred Blosser said...

Woops, make that "temporary swan song," as I meant to say, since HARPER revived the genre three years later.

Cap'n Bob said...

Good lists. I agree with most choices, but would argue the TV show MURPHY'S LAW was a big mistake. Everything that made the books so wonderful were absent from the show, which is probably why it didn't last long.

Ed Gorman said...

Woops-You're right, Jeff. I neglected to say that the list appeared in this month's newsletter for members of Private Eye Writers of America.

tomkmason said...

Great lists. I love them just for the shout-out to Goodnight My Love with Richard Boone and Michael Dunn. I thought I was the only one who had it on a list. I gotta find that on DVD - it never pops up on TV.

wv: urate, somehow very appropriate.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Not a bad list of books. Nice to see Arthur Lyons and Jonathan Valin on the list. I would have probably included something by Michael Lewin and Stephen Greenleaf as well. Nice to see no Spillane as I find him unbearably bad.
As far as movies go glad to see the Big Lebowski but Tony Rome was terrible.

Rabid Fox said...

Very cool. I have read very little of the private eye stuff, so this should help me remedy that.

Anonymous said...

Of the ones I read, I only take offense to Arthur Lyons's HARD TRADE. I thought that was a lesser novel and that his best were ALL GOD'S CHILDREN or FALSE PRETENSE.

Nice lists though, and a few movies and books I need to check out.

Dan Luft

RJR said...

Tony Rome may have been terrible, but I loved it!


Max Allan Collins said...

Dick Lochte is a terrific writer and a great guy, but his novel list does not serve the PWA's stated intention of creating an "essentials" list. Bob Randisi has stated, more or less, that he wants to create a reading list that would help a beginning reader in the genre understand that genre.

Certain writers belong on such a list without question. Hammett. Chandler. And of course Mickey Spillane, despite what one of these comments says. Spillane shaped and reinvigorated the postwar private eye novel -- without I, THE JURY or ONE LONELY NIGHT, you don't really get it. Certain writers I don't particulary care for -- Robert B. Parker for instance -- need to be on the list for similar reasons -- Parker reinvigorated and put a new stamp on the genre (Crais and Mosley, fine writers, could not have written their books without Parker going first). So whether I "like" Parker or not is beside the point: he's an essential. The same argument applies to Spillane.

And you need both Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky on such a list to understand and appreciate the wave of female private eyes (and female private eye writers).

I love Warren Murphy as a guy and a writer, and the TRACE books are fun -- but he's on and John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee isn't? And again, Trace but not Mike Hammer? A bunch of these choices are fun and quirky...but do not meet the PWA criteria.

Dick has created a favorites list, and that's fair -- everybody has their favorites. I wish my Nate Heller was on his. But it's his list and his favorites.

They just ain't all essentials.

Juri said...

Nice to see Charles Alverson on the list. I haven't read his Goodey books, but his one-off crime novel FIGHTING BACK (1973) is a very good Mafia novel about a restaurant keeper who avenges the mob. (It's got nothing to do with the movie of the same title, even though the stories seem pretty much the same.)

Alverson knew Terry Gilliam in the sixties and is credited with having some of the screenplay for Gilliam's first feature film, JABBERWOCKY.

Dick Lochte said...

Of all the comments about authors missing from my book list -- and there have been quite a few here and elsewhere -- the one that is the most valid is Mickey Spillane. Originally, the list was much longer. Fifty titles, maybe. In whittling it down, I'm not sure why I dropped I, THE JURY. It's certainly not because I don't consider it "essential." Love him or hate him -- and I can't even use the latter as an excuse -- Mike Hammer is a key player in private eye history. It was a mistake not to include him.

Dick Lochte

Brachinus said...

Where's Bill Pronzini?

Refurbished Computers said...

I would have probably included something by Michael Levin and Stephen Green leaf as well. Nice to see no Spillane as I find him unbearably bad.

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sell gold la said...

I know my dad love private eye books, movies, etc. I'll have to send him this list to see if he's read any of those. I've seen a few of those movies before, they're all pretty good! I think it's funny Big Lebowski made it onto this list, it's weird to see it grouped with a classic like Chinatown. :)

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jdon said...

I am a big MacDonald fan. My favorite is The Chill

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