Hardboiled Detective Fiction: Literary Greats: Background information when reading The Search

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Search

by Geoff Dyer

The Search by Geoff Dyer X
The Search by Geoff Dyer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    May 2014, 176 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Morgan Macgregor

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book:
Hardboiled Detective Fiction: Literary Greats

Print Review

Even if it does veer off into other categories, The Search could be essentially classified as hardboiled detective fiction.

In the 1920s and early 1930s, Dashiell Hammett became the preeminent writer in the field. Until this time, detective stories were lumped in with the rest of "crime fiction," with the focus being on a plot that would elicit shock, awe and horror from the reader. Hammett popularized a style whereby the detective approached his work with cynicism ("hardboiled" refers to an egg, inferring a tough shell). His hardboiled protagonists spoke to the reader about their perceptions, and looked upon the horrors of their job with a jaded, detached eye.

Shortly after Hammett become popular, Raymond Chandler came onto the scene and solidified the genre. Chandler was a highly literate British-American who spent his formative years in England, and so when he finally settled in Los Angeles as a young man, he had both an impressive vocabulary and a unique outsider's perspective on American culture, allowing for a sense of depth and irony that didn't typically exist in crime fiction.

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe Like Hammett's Sam Spade, Chandler's detective Philip Marlowe is cynical and jaded, but he is also introspective and philosophical. He is, in a word, an intellectual. He is morally upright, levelheaded, and a careful man who doesn't fall prey to the genre's inevitable femme fatales.

Philip Marlowe is arguably the most famous fictional detective. People usually think of the novels when they think of Marlowe – The Big Sleep, The Little Sister and The Long Goodbye among the best loved — but he also crossed over into dozens of short stories, radio pieces, movies, and television shows. Aside from the slew of Hollywood greats who have played him, — Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, James Garner, to name a few — he has also served as inspiration for innumerable characters throughout the years.

The following is a partial list of popular and critically acclaimed writers who have admitted that Chandler's Marlowe was an inspiration for their writing: Ross Macdonald, P.D. James, Robert Parker, Ed McBain, Walter Mosley, Sue Grafton, Robert B. Parker, Mickey Spillane, James Ellroy.

For more about hardboiled literary fiction, refer to the Beyond the Book for City of Dragons.

Picture of Humphrey Bogart cartoon portraying Philip Marlowe from Warner Brothers Art

Article by Morgan Macgregor

This article is from the July 23, 2014 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Calypso
    Calypso
    by David Sedaris
    David Sedaris' Calypso is every bit as hilarious and irreverent, as clever and incisive, as ...
  • Book Jacket: The Word Is Murder
    The Word Is Murder
    by Anthony Horowitz
    A wealthy widow enters a London funeral home to make arrangements for her own funeral. Six hours ...
  • Book Jacket: Call Me American
    Call Me American
    by Abdi Nor Iftin
    As a boy growing up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Abdi Nor Iftin loved watching action ...
  • Book Jacket
    Driving Miss Norma
    by Ramie Liddle, Tim Bauerschmidt
    In my cultural life, I've met and been awed by two Normas: The demanding, clueless, fiercely ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

From a dazzling new literary voice, a debut novel about a Palestinian family caught between present and past.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A Place for Us
    by Fatima Farheen Mirza

    A deeply moving story of love, identity and belonging--the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win If You See Me, Don't Say Hi

If You See Me, Don't Say Hi by Neel Patel

Patel's stories introduce a bold and timely new literary voice.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A P Saved I A P E

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.