Supper Sleuths, a mystery discussion group, meets every second Tuesday evening of the month (except July & August) at 6:00 pm. You are encouraged to bring a brown bag snack to enjoy at the meeting. Each month focuses on a distinct theme. Participants share round table reviews of titles they have read and learn about new titles to add to their reading lists. Drop ins welcome.

The next Supper Sleuths Discussion takes place April 11 from 6:00pm to 7:30pm in the Lecture Hall. Please note that this meeting takes place on a Thursday.

In 2019 we are exploring selections tracing the development of the mystery genre. This month we discuss Pulp Fiction & Hard-Boiled Private Eyes


Choose any Hard-Boiled mystery to discuss with the group at the meeting.

Hard-Boiled mystery authors include

  • Dashiell Hammett
  • Raymond Chandler
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Carroll John Daly
  • George Harmon Coxe
  • R. Burnett
  • Ellery Queen


Note: In addition to physical copies, many titles are available free of charge online through Project Gutenberg or via the library’s OverDrive and Hoopla platforms.

For help finding a title – physical, digital, audio, or video – see any Reference librarian.


Golden Age [Bruce F. Murphy, Encyclopedia of Murder and Mystery]

One could speak of a “golden age” of American mystery fiction . . ., but much of it would be of an entirely different character from the English mystery of the period. Three of the greatest American detectives in the classic mold got their start in the golden age: Philo Vance in 1926, Ellery Queen in 1929, and Nero Wolfe in 1934. But there was another renaissance of the detective story in the United States, beginning with the founding of Black Mask [magazine] and taking a totally different direction. The writing of Dashiell Hammett, Carroll John Daly, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Raymond Chandler (the Hardboiled style) had much different sources. In a sense, British writers  wrote as if World War I had never happened, because they often wrote about upper-class people insulated from the disastrous postwar recession; the Edwardian mood of Trent’s Last Case (1912) is not much different from that of many Golden Age books. The hard-boiled writers, however were working in a new genre, one that reflected communism, proletarian literature, the destruction of the ancien regime, the failed peace, and modernism. Through the hard-boiled school, the common man entered detective fiction not as the victim, the villain, or the hired help, but as the protagonist – the detective.

Pulps, Hardboiled PIs & Noir – the Gritty, Realism of America: 1920-WWII [R. Cook, The Complete History of the Mystery]

In stark contrast to the cozy style of the Golden Age mysteries in England, this American style of writing emphasized the raw edge of life.

The hardboiled style grew in popularity as the public trust in the police and their ability to uphold the law or even follow it themselves diminished during the excesses of the Roaring ‘20s.

A similar genre that rose during this era is the noir story, which focused on the average man or woman caught up in some dark situation. Often framed for murder, running for his life, the noir protagonist must evade the cops and the bad guys trying to frame him and find the clues to prove his innocence. Or not. A major noir convention is that justice does not always prevail. Examples of noir are James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice and Horace McCoy, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They.

 Adapted from The Complete History of the Mystery


SCHEDULE for 2019 Supper Sleuths

  • January 8:  The beginning. (1841-1899)
  • February 12:  Pre-Golden Age (1900-20)
  • March 14 (note Thursday):  Golden Age (1920-40s)
  • April 11 (note Thursday):  Pulp Fiction; Hardboiled Private Eyes
  • May 14:  Post War and Second Golden Age – Regionalism
  • June 11: Free Read
  • September 10: Post War and Second Golden Age – Inclusion 1982: year of the female PI
  • October 8: Post War and Second Golden Age – Specialization
  • November 12:  Third Golden Age? – New authors
  • December 10: Free Read