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Hard Boiled Detective in the Pulps

Started in the 1920s and perfected in the 1930s, the hard boiled detective was one of the most popular forms to arise from the pulp fiction magazines.

Dashiell Hammet Hard Boiled WriterThe hard boiled detective was a character who had to live on the mean streets of the city where fighting, drinking, swearing, poverty and death were all part of life. This new type of detective had to balance the day to day needs of survival against the desire to uphold the law and assist justice. Living in the toughest of environments, and required to be tougher than the evil surrounding him, our new heroes had to become "hard boiled".

In this new world, the hard boiled detective began to administer a new form of justice where if need be, he himself would cross the line and break the law, to insure that justice was done. Our hero was thrust into a world where he had to choose between different levels of evil and no one was truely on the side of good. His survival often depended upon a shoot first, ask questions later approach where the ability to reason out a murder is less important than the ability to fight one's way out of a jam.

This ushered in a new era of action packed detective stories where the murder no longer took place off stage and instead took place all around our hero on an ongoing basis. In some respects, the hard boiled detective was in response to the rising crime and gangster activety caused by Prohibition and then the Great Depression. But once Carroll John Daly introduced us to Race Williams, and Dashiell Hammett gave us to Sam Spade, the world of detective fiction changed forever.

Featured Authors:


The Quires Matter: A McGowan For Hire Mystery by Roger Torrey

From the pages of Super Detective comes a McGowan for Hire Mystery

From the pen of Roger Torrey author of 42 Days for Murder, and mysteries for Black Mask, Private Detective, Detective Story, Dime Detective, and similar magazines comes another hard-boi ... read more


Hardboiled in Hollywood by David Wilt

Five Black Mask Writers and The Movies

This book covers the film careers of Horace McCoy, Eric Taylor, Dwight V. Babcock, Peter Ruric and John K. Butler. With more than 200 feature film credits, this group of Black Mask writers left their mark on Holly ... read more


History of Mystery by Max Allan Collins

Follow the trail of the smoking gun, look for clues in the naked footprints and watch out for broken glass... the game is afoot in the bright, guilty world of detective fiction and author Max Collins knows whodunit. Peeking through the misty mythic barrier of detective stori ... read more


At The Stroke of Midnight by John K. Butler

John K. Butler's Steve Midnight. From the pages of Dime Detective. Edited by John Wooley. "At the Stroke of Midnight is a must for the library of any pulp aficionado and anyone who admires good, old-fashioned, atmospheric detective stories." -- Bill Pronzini, author of ... read more


Fade to Blonde by Max Phillips
She Was A Little Taste of Heaven And A One-Way Ticket To Hell!

Ray Corson came to Hollywood to be a screenwriter, not hired muscle. But when a beautiful girl with a purse full of cash asks for your help, how can you say no? So Corson agrees to protect starlet ... read more


Footprints On A Brain by D. L. Champion

The Inspector Allhoff Stories

"Tough, cantakerous Inspector Allhoff, who lost his legs in a shoot-out with crooks armed with a machine-gun, lives across the street from Police Headquarters in a slum tenement building and solves intricate mysterie ... read more


Murder From The East by Carroll John Daly

"The incomparably hard-boiled, bone-crushing, fast shooting Race Williams." -- ERLE STANLEY GARDNER.

This is an out-and-out fast action thriller by an author whose previous yarns have raised the hair and chilled the spines of even the most blood thirsty mystery ... read more


Pulp Masters
A pulp-packed volume of hard boiled crime fiction from the writers who made the mold and mastered the form. John D. MacDonald, James M. Cain, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Mickey Spillane, and Harry Whittington--these six masters of pulp fiction at its suspenseful best distinguish this new anthology compiled by the award- winning editors of American Pulp and Pure Pulp. ... read more


The High Window by Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler's gripping novel is set in the California underworld, where Philip Marlow searches for a priceless gold coin and finds himself deep in the tangled affairs of a dead coin collector.

A wealthy Pasadena widow with a mean streak, a missing daughter-in-law ... read more


The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler's ingenious novel finds Marlowe constantly on the move with a case involving a war-scarred drunk and his nymphomaniac wife. A psychotic gangster's on his trail; he's in trouble with the cops; and an unequaled number of corpses turn up.

"The pro ... read more