Detective novels have a long association with the left. The communist politics of one of the big three writers from the U.S. West Coast, Dashiell Hammett, go some way towards explaining this, but the other two, Ross McDonald and Raymond Chandler also have significant followings. In some ways they mark the dividing line between the old left and the new. They are stylised with an intricate plot in which the hero — lone wolf male private eye — encounters numerous characters and subplots, ingests massive quantities of booze, gets beaten up a couple of times, is hounded by both gangsters and cops and finally emerges with the plot solved, his virtue soiled but intact and the big wide world more or less unchanged.
Recommended CitationCockcroft, Peter and Corris, Peter, Dirty Deeds and Drunken Dicks, Australian Left Review, 1(77), 1981, 29-33.