Wise guys

Novels are usually the first thing that pop into your head when you think of mysteries. Have you ever seen a bookstore without a mystery section? There are thousands of mysteries to choose from, but the common marketing strategy seems to be that women buy books by female authors while men purchase the male-penned ones. Yet, while people of both genders dig mysteries, we assume that most detectives are male. This assumption comes from the movies. For proof, just look at Otto Penzler’s recent book, 101 Greatest Films of Mystery & Suspense (Simon and Schuster, $14). Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe, Steve McQueen as Bullitt, Jack Nicholson as Jake Gittes in Chinatown — I dare you to find a strong female who fits the classic archetype of the hard-boiled crime solver. In addition to plot summaries, this guide offers useful classifications of each film, such as Crime, Detective, Noir, Suspense, etc. Also included is the best line of dialogue from each film — for when you need a good comeback.

Playin' a hunch
Follow that car
Tough looks
Nothin' like a dame

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