Five Ways to Talk Like a Private Investigator: Have a Writer Put the Words in Your Mouth
Posted by Pamela S. on Friday, October 19th, 2012
“I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun.” Philip Marlowe
Private investigators are a special breed. We’re tough, and we have to be because we get beat up all the time. We stumble over dead bodies, drink scotch with our feet up on a scarred, wooden desk, we like to chase skirts, and our secretaries always fall for us. Yes, for those of us who live between the pages of a book, P.I. could stand for politically incorrect. Here are five fictional private eyes who talk the talk, and walk the walk on the dark side of town.
“May I kill him?”
We don’t actually kill people in real life. If you are covered in piercings, with jet black died hair, and a huge tattoo of a dragon on your back, you can get away with that kind of talk, but only if you are Lisbeth Salander, a genius computer hacker who conducts investigations for a security firm.
Lisbeth Salander is the fictional character of the Millennium series books written by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, and in the movies based on the books. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the female, new millennium version of the hard-boiled detective.
Adrienne: Do you fall in love with all of your clients?
Marlowe: Only the ones in skirts.
Philip Marlowe is the noir version of the fictional private eye, who lives the stereotype of the hard drinking, womanizing, rogue investigator. He has some great lines, courtesy of writer Raymond Chandler. Marlowe is a compelling character and books like The Big Sleep are classics. The Big Sleep was published in 1939, when men were men, and women were housewives or secretaries.
“Recently I’d been making an effort to upgrade my diet, which meant cutting down on the french fries and Quarter Pounders with Cheese that had been my mainstays. A peanut butter and pickle sandwich was never going to qualify as the pinnacle on the food pyramid, but it was the best I could do.”
M is for the millions of dollars that writer Sue Grafton has made from her best selling series of books that starts with “A” is for Alibi.
Kinsey Millhone is a private eye who solves mysteries in the fictional town of Santa Teresa, California. Kinsey is a former police officer who quit the force to become a P.I. She cuts her own hair, and lives on junk food. OK, the junk food part; all true. There are a lot of dead bodies in Kinsey’s path, that rarely happens in real life.
“When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it.”
For some suspicious reason Sam Spade looks exactly like Philip Marlowe, at least in the movies where he is played by Humphrey Bogart. Chandler was inspired by Spade when he created Marlowe. Sam Spade was created by writer Dashiel Hammett in his 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon. The name has become synonymous with private investigators in popular culture.
Michael Rockler, Adjunct Professor of General Studies at Capitol College in Laurel, Maryland. Described the Maltese Falcon as “Perhaps the most popular existential work of the 20th century…”
Mike Hammer: We’re gonna steer away
from these penny-ante divorce cases for a while. I’ve got a line on something better. That girl I picked up was mixed up in something big.
Velda: And a
cut of something big could be something big.
Mike Hammer: I want you to find out all you can about her.
Velda: First, you find a little thread, the little thread leads you to a string, and the string leads you to a rope, and from the rope you hang by the neck. What kind of a girl was she, this friend of yours, Christina?
Mike Hammer is a fictional P.I. created by real life tough guy Mickey Spillane in his 1947 book, I, the Jury. Kiss Me, Deadly is another Spillane book with a memorable title. If at all possible, Hammer was even more hard-boiled than Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. The misanthropic Hammer had a hate on for almost everyone, except his secretary, Velda.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.