If you've seen my blog or the Killer Year blog or been on DetecToday or even checked out William Ahearn's website, you've seen some ruckus about the PI. Ahearn says he's dead or dying... Dave White says he's still alive... and the stories are better than ever... (I believe we're talking about the writing and stories, not publishing)

So my question is what do you think? Is the PI dead? Is he alive?

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Personally I think that the PI is on its way to becoming a niche market. Why? No PI shows, no PI movies. Even in the 60s and 70s when private eye novels had declined in favor of crime thrillers and spy thrillers, there were still plenty of TV shows and movies featuring PIs. Today? Nada. He has ceased to exist in mass media.

And I say this as a person who LOVES private eye fiction.
Several TV pilots were sold in the past couple of years, Graham. There is interest. All we need is the right character/voice.

I shall provide that.

How's that for optimism? :)
GONE, BABY, GONE is due to hit theaters in November. Insert Ben Affleck joke here.
Gilbert Gottfried duck voice: AFFLACK!
I didn't know about that, Harry. I'll have to find a copy of Dennis Lehane's novel now before the movie comes out. Thanks!
Interesting discussion. I think I'm with Donna (except when it comes to shoes. Can't do heels. Ow.) If a book is trying to simply fit a type, it's probably going to be a formulaic dud. If it's a good book, I'm going to go with it no matter what job the protagonist has. If the question is "what sort of crime fiction type will dominate?" .... If I were a publisher I would probably be anxious about that. As a reader (and a writer) it's not that important to me. Less interested in trends than in individual stories and how well they work.

I do agree that there's lots of terrific writing going on in this genre. And some of that terrific writing involves PIs. Which would suggest to me they're most likely alive.
The PI is not dead. It's just that the mention of a PI is not very 'new' or exciting to people so often they are disguised as undertakers, bounty hunters or cops.
There is a large group of PI lovers however that will always make sure the genre is safe. I try to show on my site www.sonsofspade.tk that there's still lots of good stuff coming out with original takes on the Lone Detective (for instance Mr Clarinet by Nick Stone).
Also, I'm convinced that if it does well the Gone Baby Gone movie will do what Pirates of the Carib. did for pirates.
Sorry, but not a chance. Casey Affleck is no Johnny Depp. We always knew Depp had depth (no pun intended) and that he had serious chops as an actor, regardless of the material with which he worked. Affleck? Come on.

As for Dave White's contribution to this conversation, his statement that PI writing is 'better than ever' is a canard of the first order. By his own admission, Dave White has barely read any of the 'classic' PI fiction of the early, mid and late 20th century (he finds it 'dated'.). Therefore, whether or not PI fiction is 'better than ever,' Dave is not qualified to answer this question because (again, by his own admission) he is steeped in contemporary PI fiction without having bothered to do his homework on the entirety of the genre. As a result, Dave's statement carries no weight, period.

It's akin to offering an opinion that new PI fiction is/isn't any good without having read Lehane, Connelly, or Crais et. al.

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