Author (Your Name)

Kathleen Dowley, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)


Colby College. English Dept.




A careful, but brief study of the works of Dashiell Hammett and his immediate heir, Raymond Chandler, will reveal the potential of the hardboiled literary style, and the base from which we can measure, in greater detail, the contributions of the genre's modern practitioners, particularly Ross Macdonald, Mickey Spillane, and the more contemporary Robert Parker. In evaluating these very different writers, we will consider three key elements of their fiction: 1) the nature of their detective-protagonist; 2) the nature of evil/crime: 3) the attitude of the hero/author towards women, love, and the family. In examining these sylistic features and the complexity and depth with which Hammett and Chandler dealt with them, we will have become more familiar with the potential style and content of this school, qualifying us to draw conclusions about the evolution of the genre since then, and to examine reasons for its enduring popularity.


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Macdonald, Ross, 1915- -- Criticism and interpretation, Spillane, Mickey, 1918-2006 -- Criticism and interpretation, Parker, Robert B., 1932- -- Criticism and interpretation, Detective and mystery stories, American -- History and criticism, Popular literature -- United States -- History and criticism, American fiction -- 20th century -- History and criticism