Watching the Detectives: Favorites of Matt Coyle and Billy Kring

81enf2yoldl._sy500_On Saturday, January 11th, 2PM we will be hosting Watching The Detectives: A Discussion Of Private Fiction on Bookpeople’s Third Floor.

We will have six experts in the genre, whether authors, historians, booksellers, or combination. I asked each one to list three of their favorite detectives in books and at least one in film or TV. Today we will be sharing the favorites of Billy Kring and Matt Coyle, who write about West Coast detectives. Billy uses L.A. as the stomping ground for Ronnie, struggling actor who pays the the bills as a detective. Matt uses San Diego for his haunted Rick Cahill, but took him to Santa Barbra in his latest, Lost Tomorrows, facing his past. Both also seem to share a love for the ultimate L.A. detective film, Chinatown.

Lost Tomorrows (2019) author, Matt Coyle

Matt Coyle

Detective #1: Philip Marlowe. A PI that lived by his own code. The touchstone (from several Raymond Chandler novels and stories).

Detective #2: Lew Archer. The melancholy detective who knew that family secrets are the darkest (from Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer series).

Detective #3: Easy Rawlins. The P.I. without a paper badge (from Walter Mosely’s Easy Rawlins series).

Detective #4: Elvis Cole. The World’s Greatest Smart-Ass Detective (From Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole & Joe Pike series).

For my big screen PI’s:

Jake Gittes (from 1974’s Chinatown). Tried to do the right thing in a city full of wrong.

Jim Rockford (from TV’s The Rockford Files). Could lead with his chin and get up off the floor.


Hunter’s Moon (2017) author, Billy Kring

Billy Kring

Detective #1: Spenser. Because his stories are so well written, and the dialogue is second (barely) only to Elmore Leonard. Plus, of course, his returning cast of characters! (From Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels)

Detective #2: Elvis Cole. Best plotting in the modern PI writer’s world. Great characters, and a sidekick (Joe Pike) who is a great compliment to Elvis, similar to Hawk with Spenser. (From Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole & Joe Pike novels).

Detective #3: Travis McGee. Iconic. A thoughtful protagonist who is an unlicensed PI, who can respond with deadly resolve when the need arises. His partner, Meyer, is a reflective sounding board for Travis and helps the reader follow the internal dialogues with a lot of entertainment. The books are slightly dated (takes place in the 60s and 70s), but still outstanding, with terrific prose. (From John D. McDonald’s Travis McGee novels)

My movie PI, JJ Jake Gittes, in Chinatown. This Oscar-winning film has Jack Nicholson as Gittes, and he shines as an ordinary investigator involved in an extraordinary series of events. So many layers in this well-written script! This is one of those “gotta see” type films.

Catch Coyle and Kring this Saturday, January 11th at 2PM where they’ll be joined by an assortment of mystery writers and editors to discuss PI fiction in a conversation moderated by BookPeople’s own Scott M. Join the fun on the third floor. 

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