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Jochem Vandersteen's Top Five Private Eyes

Jochem Vandersteen
As a longtime fan of private eye fiction, I'm pleased to welcome Dutch author Jochem Vandersteen, whose blog is devoted to the genre, featuring new book reviews and interviews with some of its most notable practitioners.

I'm Jochem Vandersteen, founder of the Hardboiled Collective, author of the Noah Milano and Mike Dalmas series and blogger at, the blog that focuses on the fictional PI.

Gerald So asked me to put together a list of favorite PI's. Not an easy task. There's a lot of them out there, many great. Still, I managed to come up with a top 5.

I limited myself to official private eyes, that meant Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch were out, for instance. While great characters who share a lot of similarities to the classic PI, they are not official private eyes.

Well, without any further ado… here's the list…

5) Mike Hammer (by Mickey Spillane): two-fisted, pulpy, and always enjoyable to read. Showing how a bit more action and grittiness can spice up the Philip Marlowe mold.

4) Charlie Parker (by John Connolly): a great mix of Spenser and Dave Robicheaux, marrying the dark, haunting prose of James Lee Burke with the wisecracks and attitude of Parker's Spenser. I would like to have the supernatural elements downsized a bit, though.

3) Patrick Kenzie (by Dennis Lehane): younger, hipper than most PI's. Very blue collar, a regular guy like us, just tougher. He showed me that a PI can still be relevant today.

2) Spenser (by Robert B. Parker) : the man that updated the classic PI for a newer generation. Great at wisecracks, quick with his fists but more human than his pulp-predecessors. I wouldn't be writing PI fiction without him.

1) Elvis Cole (by Robert Crais): as great as Spenser is and how important to the current day PI, for me Elvis is an improved version of Spenser. I love his ''voice'', his quirks and the LA setting.


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