George Harmon Coxe Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

The crime novels of George Harmon Coxe offer a marked departure from the hard-boiled school of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Although the action is brisk and the dialogue crisp, Coxe’s stories are never sensationally violent, tending more toward carefully constructed plots that follow a more workmanlike approach to criminal detection. There is a decided emphasis on clearly developed characterization and a meticulous depiction of physical setting. It was Coxe who introduced into detective fiction the newspaper photographer as amateur sleuth, a refreshing variation on the familiar former-cop-turned-private-eye pattern.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Cox, J. Randolph. “Mystery Master: A Survey and Appreciation of the Fiction of George Harmon Coxe.” The Armchair Detective 6 (October, 1972-May, 1973): 63-74, 160-162, 232-241. Serialized overview of Coxe’s writings paying homage to the skill and importance of the author.

Haining, Peter. The Classic Era of American Pulp Magazines. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2000. Discusses Coxe’s work in the pulps and the role of pulp fiction in American culture.

Knight, Stephen Thomas. Crime Fiction, 1800-2000: Detection, Death, Diversity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Broad overview of the important trends and developments in two centuries of detective fiction. Emphasizes the trend toward diversity in the characterization of detectives in later fiction, which helps readers understand Coxe’s decision to make his detectives newspaper photographers.

Margolies, Edward. Which Way Did He Go? The Private Eye in Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Chester Himes, and Ross Macdonald. New York: Holmes and Meier, 1982. This study of the major hard-boiled detective writers mentions Coxe briefly and provides a background from which to understand Coxe.