Eddie LaCrosse, the hero of my new novel Dark Jenny, may carry a sword instead of a gun, and be called a "sword jockey" and not a "private eye," but at the core he's a detective. His job description: stop the bad guys (and gals), save the good guys (and gals), and earn the gold. This book (and the preceding two) draw equally from fantasy and detective influences, but here I'm dealing strictly with the shamus line.
It all begins with Dashiell Hammett and his Continental Op. Hammett, the undisputed father of tough detective fiction, "gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons," according to later master Raymond Chandler. His nameless hero, an operative for the Continental Detective Agency, appeared in a series of novels and short stories (Red Harvest is a good starting point). Unlike the then-prevailing trends in the mystery genre (epitomized by Agatha Christie and what we now call "cozy" mysteries), Hammet's stories were lurid and brutal, and his hero was definitely no saint. He was as tough as the bad guys he pursued, and often just as malicious. His goal was not justice, but his paycheck.
Post-Marlowe, the next significant character was Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer. Unlike the Op and Marlowe, Archer was never above his cases. No matter how hard he tried, his emotions and empathy always drew him in, so that every case was personal. This was a fundamental change in the overall idea of the aloof private eye, and The Doomsters is where this concept really takes hold.
And then there's my guy, Eddie LaCrosse. I make no claim that he's the equal of these other literary giants, but they're the fence I was swinging for when I created him. He's tough, sarcastic, and empathetic; I hope he's also funny and memorable, but that's for the reader to decide. And if you enjoy Dark Jenny and Eddie's other adventures in a world of swords, armor and down-and-dirty magic, you might also enjoy these past masters, who wrote about the mean streets of their own worlds.
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