I've been a fan of fictional private eyes since I first saw Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. The affinity led me to take charge of two lists on Robert B. Parker's poetic gourmet gumshoe Spenser and one on the state and future of the genre (DetecToday). When I took on the latter list, I knew the characters we discussed wouldn't always fit the image of Spade and Marlowe. I think, above all else, the P.I.'s most enduring quality--even if she doesn't call herself a P.I.--is the ability to tackle a problem from a relatively neutral position and, because of this, stand the bast chance of resolving the problem.
Each month, the members of DetecToday select a book featuring a P.I./salvage expert/troubleshooter to debut from 1980 through the present, and the author's body of work is discussed. Because the characters come in many different shapes and sizes, and are described in so many ways, it can be difficult to find the books.
So for my first discussion on Crimespace, which characters would you say fit the archetype I've described, the outsider coming in? What is the private eye to you? What current books and authors can you recommend?