A Bit of Noir Fun: Pick Your Detective, Sam Spade or Fitzwilliam Darcy

Sam Spade, according to his creator, Mr. Hammett: “Spade has no original. He is a dream man in the sense that he is what most of the private detectives I worked with would like to have been and in their cockier moments thought they approached. For your private detective does not — or did not ten years ago when he was my colleague — want to be an erudite solver of riddles in the Sherlock Holmes manner; he wants to be a hard and shifty fellow, able to take care of himself in any situation, able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client.”[1]

Spade gets the job done and, even though his morality is a little dubious, he does the right thing in the end. Sadly, you will never really know what he’s thinking, why he does what he does.  His mind is a closed book.

Spade’s Beat: 1920s San Francisco  

Fitzwilliam Darcy, according to me: Darcy is also an original.  Haughty, aloof, and far too serious, he is “able to get the best of anybody he comes in contact with.”  Except Elizabeth.  He is a dream man: capable and rich.  He is ever watchful, always working behind the scenes.  He gets the job done and wants no credit for his work.  Demure heroines misunderstand his intentions.  Silly girls are slack-jawed in their awe of him.

Darcy’s morality is impeccable–but he is proud, and that is his stumbling spot.  He is willing to be humble in the end, and, happily, he reveals his thoughts in letters.  His mind becomes an open book.

Darcy’s Beat: Romantic era England, the village of Longburn

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