One and Done

Some Great Private Eyes Who’ve Appeared in Only One Novel

Although the success and popularity of the literary private eye seems to be built on series characters, there have been some memorable private eyes who’ve only appeared in one novel, as chosen by readers of this site in a poll back in 1998. 


  • Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1930)*
  • Karl Craven in Solomon’s Vineyard by Jonathan Latimer (1941)
  • The Eye in The Eye by Marc Behm (1980)
  • Max Raven in Cain’s Woman by O.G. Benson (1960)
  • Cody in Texas Wind by James Reasoner (1980)
  • Neal Fargo in Interface by Joe Gores (1974)
  • Walter James in Deadly Weapon by Wade Miller (1946)
  • John J. Shannon in The Private Eye by Cleve F. Adams (1942)
  • Ralph Poteet in Peeper by Loren Estleman (1989)
  • Ben Jardinn in Death in a Bowl by Raoul Whitfield (1931)
  • Bernardo Thomas in Tropical Murder by Louis Williams
  • Ernest DeWalt in An Ocasional Hell by Randall Silvis
  • Fritz Brown in Brown’s Requiem by James Ellroy
  • Reno Sloan in The Asylum by John Edward Ames (1994)
  • Murray Kirk in The Eighth Circle by Stanley Ellin
  • Steve Lawson in Hard and Fast by U.S. Andersen
  • George Webb in The Light of Day by Graham Swift* In 2009, Joe Gores published Spade and Archer, an official “prequel” to Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon.


List respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith, with an assist by Steve Lewis of Mystery*File.

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