Gumshoes changed into high heels and
the setting moved to Chicago with the
1982 publication of Sara Paretsky's
Indemnity Only. Kathleen Turner
played Paretsky's tough detective with
a love for expensive shoes in the movie
V. I. Warshawski.
In 1991, Walter Mosley introduced
detective Easy Rawlins in Devil in a
Blue Dress. It's not just Hollywood
hype to say that Denzel Washington was
Easy Rawlins. I'd love to have seen him
in the entire series, which traces the
black experience and racial relations in
Los Angeles from the end of World
War II through the Watts Riots in 1965.
I have two special memories connected with noir
detective novels. The first was when I was a child in
the 1950s, reading my father's paperback of Mickey
Spillane's Kiss Me Deadly under the covers with my
flashlight. I knew it was an adult book. The cover
made that clear. But inside, the story swept me
away with its gritty urban setting and thrilling,
hardboiled detective action.
The second was at a book signing at Eso Wan
bookstore in Leimert Park 40 years later. Walter
Mosley was signing his books, and I walked up with
a stack. On top was my original edition of Devil in
a Blue Dress. It was five or six years after it had
come out. He looked me in the eye and commented
on how old it was and that he wasn't sure there were
stil1 any out there.
Below are five noir novelists and the stars who
played their alter egos.