She looks to author Jon L. Breen to add to the defining of hardboiled:
Urban atmosphere, the tough slang, the p.i. code of honor, the snappy repartee, the colorful villains, the contrast of low life and high society, plenty of physical action… and vivid violence, gallows humour, picturesque prose (including similes)…
Jill’s thoughts on assorted fictional hardboiled detectives led me to reflect on their nature. Tough girls and guys see little grey in the world. They live in the stark absolutes of black and white. Sasha is no exception. She has an opinion on every subject and has no doubt she is correct. Compromise is not in the vocabulary of the hardboiled.
Jill provides her own assessment of the genre:
Toughness and raw, pared-down characters and styles seem to be uniformly present within hardboiled fiction, but those characteristics alone do not identify or define hardboiled fiction. Many of the genre’s hallmarks have to do with the characters’ attributes and conduct (Blade 69), both of which are, or have in recent years become, malleable and elastic. One feature, however, is stoically present in all hardboiled fiction, whether classic or contemporary. Eclipsing habits and foibles as hardboiled imperatives is the “moral code” or “code of honour” (Blade 70). The private eye may drink or not, he may have a family or not, but the one inviolable tenet of the prototypical hardboiled detective is the ever present, often unique and occasionally contradictory moral compass. Chandler stated this moral compass may permit the spoiling of a duchess, but commands respect for a virgin; in doing so Chandler defined by omission the unfailingly amorphous internal value system that guides a hardboiled sleuth in all matters.
I have long admired Spenser’s strong sense of integrity as he solved mysteries around Boston. Hawk was far more flexible with personal morals but equally strong when wrong had been done.
Sasha is strong in her moral code but does have what Jill referred to in her essay as an “ethical elasticity”. It is most evident in Sasha’s readiness, even eagerness, to commit break-ins during investigations. Were she not the hero her actions would be called home invasions.
Hardboiled detectives are often noted for their quick retorts and sharp wit. Jill’s essay quotes W. Russel Gray’s description of hardboiled language as “blue-collar poetry”.
Humour brightens the hard edged world of the tough detective. Jill speaks of Stephanie Plum. I loved the casual humour of Elvis Cole, especially in the early books of the series. Sasha, especially in Dead Light District, is funny. Were it not for her humour Sasha would be a grim and bitter creature.
I think of Elvis Cole rather than Spenser when I compare Sasha to leading tough guy characters (I was going to say “tough person” but it sounded pretentious in the hardboiled world and too conscious an effort at political correctness). Spenser is a generation older than Sasha. If I ever read Sasha has cartoon momentoes and knickknacks in her office I will know she is a soul mate of Elvis. In the female world of detection she is a worthy Canadian cousin for Stephanie Plum.
One of my regrets with many current hard boiled heroes is the extremely high body count they leave in their wake. I hope Sasha can remain a tough girl without littering her adventures with mounds of bodies.
Jill sets out in her essay that the gun is not a requirement of being a hardboiled detective. With strong laws against carrying handguns it is no surprise that Sasha does not tote a gun around Toronto.
Sasha is more like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone in turning killers over to the authorities rather than meting out personal punishment.
I think the Danforth is a wonderful neighbourhood. My best friend in Toronto lives just off the Danforth. Sharon, myself and our family have enjoyed many fine meals in the Greek restaurants along the street. Long may it stay a bastion of independent businesses.
Just across the Don Valley is my favourite bookstore, Sleuth of Baker Street.
I cannot see a tough guy detective on foot. There is something in the male psyche that would make it almost impossible for a tough guy to walk around a city. Walking would diminish the tough guy image. It works well for Sasha to have time to think while walking and her tough girl persona remains intact while she walks (I almost said strolls) across Toronto.
Jill’s comment today sets out her action after receiving the condom covered cucumber. If the story should appear in Sasha’s future I am sure Sasha will tell the “movie producer” where he could place the item.