Carroll John Daly Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Usually credited with creating the hard-boiled detective, Carroll John Daly began his writing career in 1922, and between that year and his death he published more than a dozen novels and 250 short stories. Daly was a pathfinder whose writing skills were unpolished but whose sense of audience in the 1920’s and early 1930’s was unerring. Race Williams, the protagonist in eight novels and a number of the short stories, became the prototype out of which Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer, and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer developed. Not a gifted writer, Daly focused on providing his readers with violent physical action and uncomplicated plots. Race Williams uses his handguns and his fists in a direct assault on evildoers. He is always his own man. The novels and tales are heavily laden with racial and sexual stereotyping; their popularity in the decades before World War II attests that Daly understood the popular mind.

Carroll John Daly Bibliography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Anderson, George Parker, and Julie B. Anderson, eds. American Hard-Boiled Crime Writers. Detroit: Gale Group, 2000. Daly is one of about thirty authors covered in this survey of the genre.

Barson, Michael S. “’There’s No Sex in Crime’: The Two-Fisted Homilies of Race Williams.” Clues: A Journal of Detection 2 (Fall/Winter, 1981): 103-112. Examines the character of Race Williams created by Daly.

Geherin, David. “Birth of a Hero.” In The American Private Eye: The Image in Fiction. New York: F. Ungar, 1985. Credits Daly with the creation of the hard-boiled detective figure.

Haining, Peter. The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2000. Looks at Daly’s contribution to the pulps and the relationship of pulp fiction to its more respectable literary cousins.

Horsley, Lee. The Noir Thriller. New York: Palgrave, 2001. Scholarly, theoretically informed study of the thriller genre. Includes readings of Daly’s The Snarl of the Beast and The Adventures of Satan Hall.

Moore, Lewis D. Cracking the Hard-Boiled Detective: A Critical History from the 1920’s to the Present. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2006. Detailed study of hard-boiled detective fiction tracing its origins and subsequent evolution. Contains a discussion of Daly. Bibliographic references and index.