August 18, 2020
On August 18, 2020, we had a very special Zoom, co-sponsored with Johns Hopkins University Press. It was a rollicking affair, boasting a keen discussion on the past and present of hard-boiled crime fiction, featuring Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition), Ace Atkins (the Quinn Colson series), and Alex Segura (the Pete Fernandez series), in honour of the release of Susanna Lee’s new history of the genre, Detectives in the Shadows: A Hard-Boiled History. I served as the host and (lightly) moderated.
The pre-Zoom press release offered this preamble:
America has had a love affair with the hard-boiled detective since the 1920s, when Prohibition called into question who really stood on the right and wrong side of the law. And nowhere did this hero shine more than in crime fiction. In Detectives in the Shadows, literary and cultural critic Susanna Lee tracks the evolution of this character type—from Race Williams to Philip Marlowe and from Mike Hammer to Jessica Jones.
In addition to being accomplished authors, everyone on the panel had a vast knowledge of the genre’s history, and helped make it avivid discussion about crime fiction’s most iconic gumshoes, and later participate in a lively Q&A with the panelists.
Susanna Lee is a professor of French and comparative literature at Georgetown University. She is the author of Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Decline of Moral Authority, A World Abandoned by God, and Detectives in the Shadows: A Hard-Boiled History, now available from Johns Hopkins University Press.
Max Allan Collins is a New York Times bestselling author of original mysteries, a Shamus award winner, and an experienced author of movie adaptions and tie-in novels. His latest book is Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher: Hunting America’s Deadliest Unidentified Serial Killer at the Dawn of Modern Criminology, cowritten with A. Brad Schwartz.
Ace Atkins is a New York Times bestselling author of crime fiction, including the Quinn Colson series and the continuation of Robert P. Parker’s iconic Spenser character after Parker’s death in 2010. His most recent book is The Revelators, his tenth Quinn Colson novel.
Alex Segura is an acclaimed writer of novels, comic books, and podcasts. He is the writer of numerous books, including his most recent Star Wars Poe Dameron: Free Fall and the forthcoming crime novel Secret Identity.
Kevin Burton-Smith is a writer of and about crime fiction and the founding editor of the Thrilling Detective Web Site, and a contributing editor to Mystery Scene magazine.
It truly was a lot of fun. If you missed it, don’t sweat–we’ll be having other Zoom events. To keep in touch, keep your eyes on The Thrilling Detective Zoom Page.