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Roderick Alleyn

The Hound's pick

Death in a White Tie



Inspector (later Chief Superintendent) Roderick Alleyn is Ngaio Marsh’s privileged old Etonian who, having graduated from Oxford, served in the forces and trained as a diplomat, is driven to work at Scotland Yard, bringing his strong sense of justice and psychological insight. A popular golden age ‘gentleman detective’ dealing with society’s elite.


‘I’m going to put several questions to both of you. You need not answer them, but it will be more sensible to do so.’  Marsh’s Alleyn, Death on the Air, 1939

THE HOUND'S Greatest Fictional Crime Fighters 

Not every crime fighter is a tough guy with a drink problem and a haunted past. From the house-bound to the blind, from the English gent to the Australian debt collector, criminals have suffered at the hands of these good guys. You'll find law enforcers and a few law breakers amongst this list of the Hound's greatest. (last updated 10/01/14).  New sleuths are being added all the time so look out for your favourite. 

John Appleby


The Hound's pick

Appleby’s End


John Appleby is a fictional detective created by Michael Innes in the 1930s. He appeared in thirty-two novels and seventy-three short stories that followed a fifty-year career from youthful Scotland Yard DI to knighted Police Commissioner. The urbane and scholarly Appleby is no stranger to literary quotations.


‘Things aren’t going to plan,’ he said. ‘I mean, according to their plan.’ 

Innes' Appleby, Appleby Plays Chicken, 1957


Lew Archer


The Hound's pick

The Galton Case,


After serving in the Long Beach California PD and US Army, the world-weary Lew Archer takes up work as a PI. Archer knows how power and wealth corrupt, and of the dangers of family secrets. Ross Macdonald's PI is tough with a sharp mouth and a secret passion for mercy. His interest in psychology and the fragility of the human mind add depth.

‘Nothing is wrong with Southern California that a rise in the ocean level wouldn't cure.’ Macdonald’s Archer, The Drowning Pool, 1950

Martin Beck

The Hound's pick

The Laughing Policeman


Married journalists Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo created Sweden's detective Martin Beck, perhaps the mould for Scandinavian fiction’s dour, depressed and divorced cops. The ten Martin Beck stories, collectively titled The Story of a Crime, feature a man at odds with his superiors whilst taking on political and social themes and injustice.

‘I assume we're not here to discuss my appearance or the state of my health.’

Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s Beck, The Terrorists, 1975

Myron Bolitar

The Hound's pick

Drop Shot



Harlan Coben’s likable big guy with a big heart lives in New Jersey, in his parents’ basement. After a knee injury put pay to his basketball career, he studied and did a little work for the FBI, before setting up as a sports agent. He often has missing person cases and family secrets to investigate, relying on his lively associates (plus his brain, brawn, wit).

‘So basically, that entire theory is blown to hell.’ ‘Not basically,’ Win corrected. ‘Entirely.’

Coben’s Bolitar (and his best friend), Fade Away, 1995

Harry Bosch

The Hound's pick

Lost Light


Hieronymous (Harry) Bosch has held several positions within LAPD as well as being a PI. His mantra: ‘Everybody counts or nobody counts' might stem from the murder of his mother, a Hollywood prostitute. Bosh is a lone wolf, unafraid to risk the wrath of the Internal Affairs squad.

‘What is important is not what you hear said, it's what you observe.’

Connelly’s Bosch, Trunk Music, 1997

Dave Brandstetter

The Hound's pick




Dave Brandstetter is a death claims Insurance investigator. A former war vet, he’s a tough guy (but thoughtful with it), dedicated and caring. Over the course of twelve novels we see him age as he deals with matters of the heart as well as world issues (esp Californian). Like his creator Joseph Hansen, Brandstetter is openly homosexual.


‘I'm against guns. They give too many people power who have no right to it.’

Hansen’s Brandstetter, The Boy Who Was Buried this Morning, 1980

Father Brown


The Hound's pick

The Innocence of Father Brown



An unlikely sleuth on account that he’s short, stumpy and a English Roman Catholic priest, GK Chesterton’s Father Brown uses his intuition and philosophical theories to solve cases in fifty-one short stories. He’s a eccentric and friendly detective prone to wearing shapeless clothes and sporting a large umbrella.

‘Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.’ Chesterton's Brown, The Innocence of Father Brown, 1910

Guido Brunetti

The Hound's pick

Friends in High Places



Donna Leon’s intelligent, warm-hearted and principled Commissario Brunetti reads ancient Roman classics and loves Venice. He has a strong motivation to protect his city from the crime and corruption that blight it. Never shying away from political issues, he's on the side of the persecuted and exploited, fighting the seamy underside of Venetian life.

‘Perception of personal danger very often set people on the path of virtue.’

Leon’s Brunetti, About Face, 2009

Nestor Burma


Nestor Burma is the star of Léo Malet’s long-running series. The pipe-smoking Parisian runs his own detective agency after returning from a POW camp to find his city occupied by German forces. The outspoken and sarcastic Burma has to battle both criminals and suspicious police inspectors with just an infatuated secretary on his side.

 ‘It was one of those summer nights we don’t get often enough. Just the way I like them: dry and stifling.’ Malet's Burma, The Rats of Montsouris, 1955

The Hound's pick

120 Rue De La Gare



Brother Cadfael


The Hound's pick

The Virgin in the Ice



Cadfael is a barrel-chested and bandy-legged Welsh Benedictine monk living in England in the first half of the 12th century, a turbulent period of history. Ellis Peters’ character combines the curious mind of a naturist and that of a knight-errant. A former soldier and sailor, he's an observer of human nature, a talented herbalist and a medical examiner.

‘Oh, sometimes I like to put the sand of doubt into the oyster of my faith.’

Peters’ Cadfael, The Leper of Saint Giles, 1981


The Hound's pick

Tiger in the Smoke



Albert Campion


‘Uncle Albert’ to his friends, Margery Allingham’s sometime detective assumed the name Campion in his twenties and so began his mysteries and adventures. Ingenious, resourceful and well-educated, he sports a blank expression and horn-rimmed glasses. He is, however, a man of authority and action, both helpful and comforting.

‘Chemists employed by the police can do remarkable things with blood. They can … weave it into a rope to hang a man.’ Allingham’s Campion, The Tiger in the Smoke, 1952


The Hound's pick

The Eyes of Max Carrados,



Max Carrados


‘I have my sense of touch, my sense of taste, my hearing – even my unromantic nose – and you would hardly believe how they have rallied to my assistance since sight went.’ Bramah’s Carrados, The Specimen Case, 1924





Ernest Bramah's mysteries began in 1914. The Carrados stories appeared in the Strand Magazine alongside, and often outselling, those of Sherlock Holmes. After a horse-riding accident involving a twig, Carrados is rendered blind. With a little help from his manservant he uses his powers of perception and areas of expertise to solve crime.

José Carvalho


The Hound's pick

Southern Seas



‘Sherlock Holmes played the violin. I cook.’ Montalban’s Carvalho,

Murder in the Central Committee, 1981

José ‘Pepe’ Carvalho is Manuel Vazquez Montalban’s idiosyncratic private detective of twenty-two novels. After a stint in the CIA, the former philosophy student and communist party member became a private eye. Whilst concerned with the state of his beloved Barcelona, Carvalho finds pleasure in fine food as he fights people of power and influence.

The Hound's pick

The Monkey's Raincoat



Elvis Cole


Boston’s Elvis Cole is not a typical LA PI. He drives a yellow 1966 Corvette, uses a Mickey Mouse phone, drinks coffee from a Spider-Man mug and aspires to be Peter Pan. Robert Crais’ creation does have more orthodox qualities; the .38, familiarity with martial arts, the time spent in Vietnam. Cole is always ready to help a stranger in need.


‘It's easy to sound good. All you do is leave in the parts where you act tough and forget the parts where you get shoved around.’ Crais’s Cole, The Monkey’s Raincoat, 1987

The Hound's pick

The Moonstone



Sergeant Cuff


Born in Wilkie Collins’ Sergeant Cuff of the newly former Scotland Yard is, like Dickens’ Bucket, based upon Inspector Whicher. Cuff is dogged and innovative (the first detective to use a magnifying glass), a man which time has crafted into a fine reader of human nature with a level of intelligence far beyond that of the local police.

‘Every human institution (Justice included) will stretch a little, if only you pull it in the right way.’ Collins’ Cuff, The Moonstone, 1868

The Hound's pick

The Murders in the Rue Morgue



C August Dupin


Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin is often credited as being the first detective (1841). The Parisian is uses ‘ratiocination’ to solve mysteries that baffle the police. The formula of the sleuth having a partner that narrates the stories was also born with Dupin in three short stories. Conan Doyle acknowledges Poe’s influence.


‘Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger, portion of truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.’ Poe’s Dupin,

The Mystery of Marie Roget, 1842/43

Gervase Fen


The Hound's pick

The Moving Toyshop



Edmund Crispin’s amateur detective Gervase Fenis also an Oxford Professor of English. He’s an unconventional eccentric, often using his intuition and brilliance to help assist the police. He has a wife, children and an extraordinary hat. At times rude and egocentric, for Fen, the thrill is had in working the case and not in the conclusion..

‘Discretion,’ said Fen with great complacency, ‘is my middle name.’‘I dare say. But very few people use their middle names.’ Crispin’s Fen, Beware of the Trains, 1953

The Hound's pick

The Three Coffins 



Gideon Fell


 John Dickson Carr’s Dr Gideon Fell features in twenty-three novels, solving ‘impossible’ crimes and locked room mysteries. He’s an amateur sleuth, used by the police when a case stumps them. Fell is a jolly, portly, moustachioed teacher, who walks with the aid of two canes and lives in the London suburbs.

 ‘It isn't every day, you know,’ the doctor explained, apologetically, ‘that a man gets the opportunity to write the story of his own murder.’ Carr’s Fell, Hag’s Nook, 1933

George Gideon


The Hound's pick

Gideon’s Fire



‘In all my years on the force I’ve met some fools and a few knaves, and here and there a rat, and you’re one of the biggest rats.’ Creasey’s Gideon, Gideon’s Wrath, 1967

Commander Gideon of Scotland Yard appeared in twenty-six of John Creasey’s novels (under his pseudonym JJ Marric). Family man George Gideon, also known as GG or Gee-Gee, is gentle and popular but, when needed, he can be physical and fiery. His hands-on approach and powers of memory help him solve many cases from arson to mass murder.

The Hound's pick

The Daughter of Time



Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard features in six of Josephine Tey’s novels. Grant is a gentleman; a sympathetic, honourable character with detective skills that include the ability to ‘read’ faces. Grant, with a little help, from his actress girlfriend Marta Hallard, appeared during the golden age of British crime fiction.

Alan Grant


 ‘Grant could not imagine himself sitting back, and he considered browsing a loathsome word and a contemptible occupation.’ Tey’s Grant, The Singing Sands, 1952


Lew Griffin


The Hound's pick

Eye of the Cricket



Sometime PI Lew Griffin features in a series of novels by James Sallis. In addition to working on missing persons (usual children) cases, Griffin is a part-time teacher, poet, novelist and debt collector. African-American and fluent in Louisiana French, Griffin is a tough, bourbon swilling sleuth with a love of literature and realistic view of society.

  ‘In the darkness things always go away from you. Memory holds you down while regret and sorrow kick hell out of you. The only help you'll get is a few hard drinks and morning.’ Sallis’ Griffin, The Long-Legged Fly, 1992


Ebenezer Gryce


The Hound's pick

The Leavenworth Case 



Anna Katharine Green is the ‘godmother’ of the detective story establishing many of its conventions such as the ‘recurring detective’. Her most famous sleuth is the eccentric Inspector Ebenezer Gryce of the New York Metropolitan Police Force. Gryce is aided in his analysis and explanation by a nosy society spinster, the prototype for Christie’s Marple.

‘It would never do for me to lose my wits in the presence of a man who had none too many of his own.’ Green’s Gryce, That Affair Next Door, 1897


Bernard Gunther


The Hound's pick

The One from the Other 



Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther served eleven years as a Berlin homicide detective and was a sergeant in the Great War before investigating missing persons. A widower with an eye for the ladies, and a taste for drinking/smoking, the world-weary Gunther goes from a Berlin Trilogy to the post-war effects of Nazi Germany in travels that are rooted in history.

‘When you get a cat to catch the mice in your kitchen, you can't expect it to ignore the rats in the cellar.’ Kerr's Gunther, March Violets, 1989


Sherlock Holmes


The Hound's pick

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes 



Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant detective uses his powers of deduction and reasoning to assist Scotland Yard with their most interesting cases. A master of disguise and a forensic expert, Holmes is an eccentric bohemian - with a drug problem and lack of empathy. His stories are told sympathetically by his loyal friend Dr John Watson.

 ‘When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.’ Conan Doyle’s Holmes, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, 1921/27


 Jack Irish


The Hound's pick

Bad Debts 



Peter Temple’s Jack Irish suffered when his wife died at the hands of an unstable client. Grief and alcohol later the Melbourne based Irish is rebuilding his life as a criminal lawyer, gambler, debt collector and finder of people that don’t wish to be found. Irish has interests as diverse as jazz, woodwork, cooking, Oz football and gambling (horse-racing).

‘Friday night is the second-worst night for being on your own. Saturday night is the worst one. By Sunday night, you think you’re getting the hang of it.’ Temple’s Irish, Black Tide, 1999


Fearless Jones


Walter Mosley’s Fearless Jones is a man you’d want on your side: violent and tough he’s also a knight-errant, a man of justice and principle, and a war hero. Set in 1950s LA amid the social and economic struggle affecting the poor and black, the Jones series is narrated by of Paris Minton, the owner of a small second-hand bookstore.

The Hound's pick

Fearless Jones 



‘No one could intimidate him and so he went where ever he wanted and associated with anyone he cared to.' Mosley's Jones, Fear of the Dark, 2006


Jules Maigret


The Hound's pick

My Friend Maigret 



Police superintendent Jules Maigret is the hero of seventy-five novels and twenty-eight short stories by Georges Simenon. The overcoat-filling, pipe-smoking detective, with a taste for alcohol and French food, solves crimes by empathising with criminals; understanding and examining their way of life and that of those around them.


 ‘It is always embarrassing to disturb a quiet house, particularly on a winter's evening…and especially when the intruder has come from Police Headquarters with his pockets full of unpleasant documents.’ Georges Simenon, Maigret Hesitates, 1970


Aimée Léduc


The Hound's pick

Murder in the Marais 



Aimée Léduc was born to a French mother (missing) and an American father (the head of Leduc Investigation). After her father is killed, Aimée takes over the business, specialising in corporate security and computer forensics. Cara Black’s Ludec is as stylish, bohemian and tough as the Paris she inhabits. She’s sharp of thought and strong of mind.


 ‘The past informs the present. Memory makes the map we carry, no matter how hard we try to erase it.’ Black’s Leduc, Murder in the Bastille, 2003


Joe Leaphorn


The Hound's pick

Dance Hall of the Dead 



Tony Hillerman’s Lieutenant Leaphorn of the Navajo Tribal Police knows his people as well as he knows cold-blooded killers; and yet the investigator is often underestimated by suspects and the law. But being written off, even by the FBI, helps Leaphorn, freeing him to use his knowledge of the Navajo way of life and culture to his advantage.


‘From where we stand the rain seems random. If we could stand somewhere else, we would see the order in it.’ Hillerman’s Leaphorn, Coyote Waits, 1990


Philip Marlowe


The Hound's pick

The Big Sleep 



Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled private eye comes with an understated first-person narration that fizzes off the page. He’s a tough guy with a bag of vices (booze, smoking, women) and ready one-liners. A loner in a big city, Marlowe is the knight errant; a tough guy with a code of honour, prepared to be beaten up, seduced and shot at as he works a case.


 ‘From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.’ Chandler’s Marlowe, The High Window, 1942


Jane Marple


The Hound's pick

A Murder is Announced 



Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple is an elderly spinster and one of the great amateur detectives. Her busybody persona lulls criminals into underestimating her and allows her to mingle and observe without reproach. Her appearance as a fluffy old dear who likes knitting belies ruthless core, keen ear and master of human nature.


 ‘The young people think the old people are fools -- but the old people know the young people are fools.’ Christie’s Marple, Murder at the Vicarage, 1930


Travis McGee


A former college footballer, the tough, cynical Travis McGee is a ‘salvage consultant’, retrieving money and property for people the law can’t help. Apart from his extensive guilt-ridden sexual experiences he’s a lone wolf, living on a houseboat in Florida, a place he feels passionate about. McGee appears in twenty-one of John D MacDonald’s novels.


 ‘We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody threw the girl off the bridge.’ MacDonald’s McGee, Darker Than Amber,  1966 


The Hound's pick

Red Bright Orange for the Shroud 



Kinsey Millhone


The Hound's pick

D is for Deadbeat 



Angry at the injustices she sees, Sue Grafton’s Californian, Kinsey Millhone, a fearless and dedicated investigator. Independent, confident, tough and clever, she’s also a pragmatic businesswoman, drives an old Volkswagen, owns one dress and cuts her own hair with toenail scissors.


  ‘My name is Kinsey Millhone. I am a private investigator, licensed by the state of California. I am thirty-two years old, twice divorced, no kids. The day before yesterday I killed someone and the fact weighs heavily on my mind.’ Grafton’s Millhone, A is for Alibi, 1982


Tess Monaghan


The Hound's pick

In Big Trouble 



Former Baltimore Star reporter Tess Monaghan works as a PI and knows how to survive and thrive on the mean streets of her beloved city. Laura Lippman’s Monaghan is loyal to her city, its people and her greyhound. Opinionated, witty and vulnerable, the complex sleuth face threats from dangerous people and the Maryland State Police.


 ‘Methadone, now there was a concept: a drug for life that blocked the effects of the drug you really yearned for. Were there such remedies for one’s heart.’ Lippman’s Monaghan, Charm City, 1997


Salvo Montalbano


Sicilian Montalbano is Andrea Camilleri’s mustachioed streetwise Inspector on the case of political corruption and the influence of the mafia. Cynical and short-tempered he smokes and snipes his way through the changes that blight his beautiful Sicily.


The Hound's pick

The Scent of the Night 



 ‘The inspector sat down on a stair, fired up a cigarette, and entered an immobility contest with a lizard.’ Camilleri's Montalbano, The Snack Thief, 1996


The Hound's pick

Working Girls 



Bev Morriss


Maureen Carter’s Bev Morriss shoots from the lip. A headstrong tough-as-nails Birmingham (England’s second city) police detective, Morriss is one feisty female both proud and protective of her city. Complex, flawed and times self-destructive, Morriss fights the system, backing herself to get the job done in a series of seven novels.


  ‘Leaning on the wall, a Doc Marten against the brickwork, Bev lit a Silk Cut, inhaled deeply, blamed the smoke when her eyes stung.’ Carter’s Morriss, Death Line, 2010


Endeavour Morse


The Hound's pick

The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn 



Chief Inspector Morse featured in thirteen of Colin Dexter’s novels. Morse is a loner, it’s not that he’s happy alone – listening to Wagner, guzzling beer or completing crosswords – it’s just that he’s more miserable when with other people, despite being romantic at heart. A university drop-out, Morse has a love-hate relationship with Oxford.


  ‘He'd no time for reports. He suspected that about 95% of the written word was never read by anyone anyway.’ Dexter’s Morse, Last Bus to Woodstock, 1975


Hoke Moseley


The Hound's pick




Hoke Moseley low paid job as a brilliant Miami homicide detective leaves him struggling to pay alimony payments and living in a hotel. Broke, depressed and under pressure from both his boss and dysfunctional family, Charles Willeford’s Moseley is prepared to bend the rules.


  ‘Smoking comforts ordinary men, but I'm not an ordinary man. There aren't many like me left. And it's a good thing for the world that there isn't.’ Willeford’s Moseley, Sideswipe, 1987


Cork O'Conner


The Hound's pick

Iron Lake 



William Kent Krueger’s Cork O'Connor, part Irish-American part Ojibwe (Anishanaabe Indian) former Chicago cop then deputy and sheriff of Tamarack County, is a family man (albeit troubled). Looking for the easy life of retirement he’s settled in the vast harsh woods of Minnesota where he, reluctantly, becomes a private investigator.


  ‘What life gives us, good or bad, we seldom deserve.’ Kent Krueger's O'Conner, Iron Lake, 1998


Hercule Poirot


The Hound's pick

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd 



The meticulous Poirot appeared in thirty-three novels and almost twice as many short stories by Agatha Christie. The little Belgian with his egg-shaped head and neat mustache is a recognizable sleuths, and the only fictional character to have an obituary in the New York Times. A perfectionist with the ‘little grey cells’ needed to restore order.


  ‘Everyone is a potential murderer - in everyone there arises from time to time the wish to kill - though not the will to kill.’ Christie’s Poirot, Curtain, 1975


Ezekiel Rawlins


LA's Ezekiel ‘Easy’ Rawlins, an unemployed World War II vet in financial trouble finds temptation hard to resist. Easy's a flawed individual battling social injustice and trying to make it in the world. He’s an African-American amateur PI (who takes other jobs), determined to rise above his lot and the inequality he sees in a mid-20th century California.


  ‘Mouse was the truest friend I ever had. And if there is such a thing as true evil, he was that too.’ Mosley’s Rawlins, A Red Death, 1991


The Hound's pick

Devil in a Blue Dress 



John Rebus


The Hound's pick

The Hanging Garden 



Hard-boiled Inspector Rebus is Ian Rankin’s hard-drinking, chain-smoking, rule-breaking detective. As tough, dour and troubled as the Edinburgh he inhabits, his gruff exterior hides a fierce will to succeed but Rebus the rebel constantly falls foul of his seniors and misses career opportunities as a result.


  ‘It seemed to him a very Edinburg thing. Welcoming, but not very.’ Rankin's Rebus, Exit Music, 2007


Arkady Renko


The Hound's pick

Gorky Park 



The son of Stalinist Red Army General, Renko Arkady irks his father by rejecting a military career in favour of becoming a crime investigator. Renko has a relentless, at times selfless, approach which pits him against the government and his supervisors. Martin Cruz Smith’s series takes in the fall of the Soviet Union to Putin’s Russia,


  ‘It makes us nervous when an innocent citizen, such as yourself, knows how to reach us.

Did you get our number from a friend or did a skywriter spell out Killers for Hire?’

Cruz Smith’s Renko, Stalin’s Ghost, 2006


Lincoln Rhyme


The Hound's pick

The Stone Monkey



Jeffery Deaver’s NYPD criminalist Lincoln Rhyme is a former Homicide Detective who, after suffering a horrifying accident at a crime scene, was rendered quadriplegic. Wheelchair-bound, the crime scene expert relies on his protégé, Amelia Sachs, to walk the scene as he works as a consultant.


  ‘Sometimes you can't be what you ought to be, you can't have what you ought to have.’

Deaver’s Rhyme, The Bone Collector, 1997


Dave Robicheaux


The Hound's pick

The Tin Roof Blowdown



James Lee Burke’s Robicheaux is a haunted character; a recovering alcoholic (in part due to his time as a Vietnam vet). First appearing as a tough New Orleans’ homicide investigator, he becomes a detective working as a sheriff's deputy in the town of New Iberia. A man of honour and courage, Robicheaux sees the world in black and white. 


  'It's a great burden, being one of the good guys.’ Lee Burke’s Robichaeux, The Neon Rain, 1987


Lisbeth Salander


The Hound's pick

The Girl Who Played with Fire



The girl with the dragon tattoo and a capacity for revenge might not have been Steig Larsson’s lead character - that would be the investigator Mikael Blomkvist - but she’s certainly his most enduring. Introverted and socially awkward, Salander comes into her own at a computer. The talented hacker has an eidetic memory, and is a master of disguise.


  ‘Keep in mind that I'm crazy, won't you?’ Larsson’s Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2005


Matt Scudder


The Hound's pick

A Dance at the Slaughterhouse



Lawrence Block's Scudder used to be a functioning New York detective with a family, then an intervention went wrong and a girl was shot. Scudder’s life fell apart leaving him feeling guilty, angry and haunted. Divorced and a BIG drinker, Scudder, now a private eye, finds work in amongst the dark, claustrophobic world of shady characters in cheap bars.


  ‘No matter how comfortable my life was, no matter how well suited I was to it, and it to me, I would always want to slip away and hide for a while.’ Block’s Scudder, Everybody Dies, 1998


Konrad Sejer


The Hound's pick

Don’t Look Back



Karin Fossum’s Sejer works in Oslo but his investigations take him into the outlying towns and villages, where dark secrets hide within isolated communities. A widower, a little set in his ways, he is a smart inspector with an emotional intelligence, empathy and insight into the criminal mind. Pensive, patient and tenacious with faith in mankind.


  ‘If we don't believe in the Devil, we won't be able to recognize him when he suddenly shows up.’ Fossum’s Sejer, When the Devil Holds the Candle, 1998


Sam Spade


The Hound's pick

The Maltese Falcon  



Dashiel Hammet’s detached private eye Sam Spade, the blonde Satan, has inspired many a hardboiled detective. Hammet’s The Continental Op may have predated Spade but his appearance in The Maltese Falcon announced the uncompromising ‘tough guy’ detective, determined to achieve his own brand of justice.


  ‘I distrust a man that says when. If he's got to be careful not to drink too much it's because he's not to be trusted when he does.’ Hammet’s Spade, The Maltese Falcon, 1930




The Hound's pick

Promised Land



Robert B Parker created Spenser, a man whose back-story includes being a boxer, state-cop, and a serviceman in the Korean War. He’s a Boston private eye as tough, honourable and quick-witted as any of his predecessors but Spenser is also a gourmet cook, recites poetry and maintains a committed relationship with one woman.


‘I went to college once, I don’t wear my hat indoors, and if a clue comes along and bites me on the ankle I grab it.’ Parker’s Spenser, The Godwulf Manuscript, 1973


Jack Taylor


The Hound's pick




Jack Taylor is Ken Bruen’s well-read PI of many vices. Taylor, dismissed from the Garda after a beer-fuelled altercation, is struggling with his life in Galway, and his demons, past and present, hamper his efforts to quit the booze, cigs and coke. Bad-tempered and fragile he may be but Taylor has biting a sense of humour and is an enemy of corruption.


  ‘There'll be times when the only refuge is books. Then you'll read as if you meant it, as if your life depended on it.’ Bruen’s Taylor, The Killing of the Tinkers, 2002


Simon Templar


The Hound's pick

Enter The Saint



Leslie Charteris’s stories follow the adventures of the rambunctious Simon Templar, alias ‘The Saint’. He might have started out as a criminal but builds a reputation taking on the criminals the police can’t. Not bound by the law the daring, at time violent, rebel is always one step ahead, aided by his partner (his girlfriend).


  ‘He, of all men living, should have known that the age of strange adventures was not past. There were adventures all around, then, as there had been since the beginning of the world.’

Charteris’ Saint, The Avenging Saint, 1930


Tom Thorne


The Hound's pick

Death Message



Mark Billingham’s detective inspector, the aptly named Thorne, is a prickly character. Stubborn, brave and honourable, Tom Thorne lives and works in London. As part of the Met’s murder squad he applies a tenacious approach, involving himself in cases so much that he leaves a little of himself behind with each investigation.


  ‘Wide awake and focused, Thorne sat and studied death, the way others at work elsewhere were looking at computer screens or sitting at tills.’ Billingham's Thorne, Scaredy Cat, 2002


Will Trent


The Hound's pick




Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series, set in Atlanta, sees Trent, a special agent for the GBI, being described as ‘…at least six-three, with a runner's lean body and the most beautiful legs’. He’s struggled with a horrendous childhood, dyslexia and a destructive marriage to become a brilliant agent. His relationship with the ME Sara Linton is evolves nicely.


   ‘I don’t want to steal the spotlight or be on the news when we catch the bad guy. I just want to assist you in your job and then move on.’ Slaughter’s Trent, Triptych, 2006


Kurt Wallander


The Hound's pick




Henning Mankell's Wallander is an emotionally unstable grump: his wife left, he feels guilt at having killed a man, has father issues, finds relationships difficult, and he takes cases too personally. Opera's his only ‘healthy’ escape. He works in a town near Malmo, Sweden, applying his dogged – at times aggressive and insubordinate – and intelligent methods.


   ‘We live in an age when the mice are hunting the cats...nobody knows who are the mice and who the cats.’ Mankell’s Wallander, The Dogs of Riga, 1992


VI Warshawski


The Hound's pick




The Chicago private detective, created by Sara Paretsky, is tough, independent and no-nonsense. Proud of her Italian-Polish roots and her working class background, she takes an uncompromising approach with the corporate cheats. A Mike Hammeresque feminist with a no nonsense attitude, and a gun in her purse.


   ‘Never tell anybody anything unless you're going to get something better in return.’

Paretsky’s Warshawski, Deadlock, 1984

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