M.P. Wright's Classic Crime Heroes

M.P. Wright's Classic Crime Heroes

1. Dave Robicheaux from the "Dave Robicheaux" series by James Lee Burke
As a crime writer Jim Burke’s novels have perhaps been the greatest influence on my own writing and set a very high benchmark for me when I came to write Heartman. Burke’s Cajun detective, Dave Robicheaux, first appeared in the Neon Rain. I read it over 20 years ago and have been hooked on the series ever since. Robicheaux: New Iberian cop, widower, recovering alcoholic, family man, highly moralistic and with a mean temper. His multi-faceted, and at times dangerous, personality lights up the page in Burke’s books set in the Louisianan Deep South.
 
2. Ezekiel "Easy" Porterhouse Rawlins from the "Easy Rawlins" series by Walter Mosley 
Easy Rawlins was first introduced by Mosley in the noir classic Devil in a Blue Dress. Rawlins is an unlicensed private detective and his character had a big influence when creating my own inquiry agent, Joseph Tremaine Ellington. Mosley captures the social mores of the times he writes in perfectly and in creating Easy’s deadly best friend, Raymond “Mouse” Alexander, has given readers of the ten books written one of the deadliest and believable partnerships in crime fiction. After reading of Rawlins’s uncertain fate at the end of Blonde Faith it was good to see him back in last years Little Green.
 
3. Lew Archer from the "Lew Archer" series by Ross MacDonald 
MacDonald’s southern Californian detective remains one of my favourite detectives. An ex-Long Beach police officer, Archer is sometimes depressed and often world-weary. MacDonald’s Archer novels work in many ways like Greek tragedies - sin and wealth, and high and low level corruption pervade the storylines. The outcomes are rarely good. Archer is a worn-down and sardonic character who has to wade through a criminal world he’d sometime rather no have to deal with. The Moving Target is an American noir gem and in my opinion MacDonald’s finest Archer story.
 
4. Philip Marlowe from the "Philip Marlowe" series by Raymond Chandler 
First appearing in Chandler’s short story, The Finger Man, Philip Marlowe is for me the quintessential private detective and in many ways the character itself owes a great debt of thanks to Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade. Underneath the Marlowe’s hard-drinking, wise-cracking exterior lies a contemplative and philosophical creature with a real affection for the poets and a game of chess. 
The Big Sleep may have set the benchmark for future noir crime writers to aspire to, but it is Chandler’s own 1953 novel, The Long Goodbye that stays longest in the readers mind after finishing the final page. 
 
5. Bernie Gunther from the "Berlin Noir" series by Philip Kerr
Philip Kerr’s "Berlin Noir" trilogy - March Violets, The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem - featuring the sardonic German detective Bernhard "Bernie" Gunther were for me, a revelation. Kerr’s brilliance in transporting the well-used and hard-boiled feel of both Hammett’s and Chandler’s US crime novels and reimagining them in pre- and post-Second World War Germany was a stroke of genius. The hard smoking, ex-Berlin Kripo officer prowls the city's underbelly, which is both at war with the world and itself. In Bernie Gunther, Kerr created a character that is both world-weary and brave... A classic noir detective in every sense.
 
Heartman by M.P. Wright is out now from Black and White Publishing.