The Projectionist (Sherlock Jr.)

Created by Jean C. Havez, Joe Mitchell & Clyde Bruckman Okay, the silent film classic isn't really a private detective film, not really. But it's private eye adjacent, and it's something of a classic, regardless--you won't regret checking out this little bit of surrealistic slapstick. The great Buster Keaton plays a lowly film projectionist (and janitor) who only … Continue reading The Projectionist (Sherlock Jr.)

Ralph Henderson

Created by Charles Felix Pseudonym of Charles Warren Adams (1833-1903) "Is that chain one of purely accidental coincidences, or does it point with terrible certainty to a series of crimes, in their nature and execution too horrible to contemplate?" -- Victorian P.I. Ralph Henderson gets all noir on us Forget The Moonstone (1868) by Wilkie … Continue reading Ralph Henderson

David Carroll

Created by Octavus Roy Cohen (1891-1959) If Octavus Roy Cohen is remembered at all these days, it's for his two early detectives: fat, folksy white private eye Jim Hanvey and buffoonish black sometime-detective Florian Slappy, and the latter's unflattering and unfortunate caricatures of African-Americans. Granted, those were different times, and there doesn't seem to be … Continue reading David Carroll

Jim Hanvey

  Created by Octavus Roy Cohen(1891-1959) Down these mean streets a man must waddle... One of the earliest American private eyes to gain any real popularity, Octavus Roy Cohen's JIM HANVEY was already appearing in The Saturday Evening Post a year before John Carroll Daly's Three Gun Terry, although his style tended to run more to … Continue reading Jim Hanvey

John Barman

Created by Arthur William à Beckett (1844-1909) "...the Raymond murder--pretty piece of bushness--genteel piece of bushness. I'm proud of it! Itsh been managed capitally--I shay capitally!" -- Barman One of the earliest private detectives actually identified as such, JOHN BARMAN was a pipe-smoking, whiskey-drinking (and occasionally over-served) Victorian-era gentleman sleuth who lived at King’s Road, … Continue reading John Barman

Burton Combs (real name unknown)

Created by Carroll John Daly (1889-1958) "I ain't a crook; just a gentleman adventurer and make my living working against the law breakers. Not that work I with the police -- no, not me. I'm no knight errant either." Carroll John Daly's short story, "The False Burton Combs," which appeared in the December 1922 issue … Continue reading Burton Combs (real name unknown)

Who’s on First?

The First Hard-Boiled Private Eye Story "Firsts" are the sort of game literary historians, scholars and bookgeeks love to play, giving them a chance to strut their stuff, loudly and proudly offering up the most blurry of distinctions and the most wishy-washy of definitions, turning hair-splittery into a fine art -- and occasionally a contact … Continue reading Who’s on First?

Fred J. Dodge

(1854-1938) Born in Butte County in California in 1854, FRED J. DODGE grew up in Sacramento, and became a detective for Wells Fargo, working for them for over fifty years, much of it undercover, in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma. There's no doubt Dodge got around. While working in Tombstone, Arizona in 1879, … Continue reading Fred J. Dodge

Early Eyes

Historical and Literary Influences on the Genre Trying to pinpoint the first fictional "private detective" (never mind the first "private eye") is pretty much like nailing two pieces of jello together... during an earthquake. Nonetheless, all the following usual (and maybe occasionally unusual) suspects contributed to the development of the private eye as we now understand … Continue reading Early Eyes