I'm in the middle of A Rage in Harlem by Chester B. Himes and there is a big difference as to how he introduces the main chacaters to his series of books.
In the first paragraph of the first chapter of The Maltese Falcon we get a detailed description of Samuel Spade. Through the course of the novel where we are Sam Spade is as well. Philip Marlowe guides us through every step of Raymond Chandler's novels.
In A Rage in Harlem Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed don't appear until Chapter 8, and even then it is the character introduced at the beginning of the story (unique to that book as far as I know) who is the impetus. In this and other novels Himes moves the plot along with colorful characters (no pun intended) and interactions between them. Grave Digger Jones and Coffin Ed appear later, and as a result I have more identification with the starting character than with the series' detectives.
Different methods, different effects.