Jonathan Latimer Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

In the five William Crane novels, Jonathan Latimer synthesized puzzle-mystery and tough-guy conventions by introducing a series protagonist of great intelligence and social sophistication who comes into violent contact with crime. For Crane, pleasure and pain interact as forceful agents by which both conscious and unconscious processes produce enlightenment. The larger world (mostly Chicago) appears irredeemably corrupted. For the detective Crane, the model of order seems to be survival in the hierarchy of the Black Detective Agency, where he is confirmed by bonds of loyalty and good job performance.

Latimer’s experimentation with shifting points of view in the Crane novels and elsewhere anticipates the author’s later fiction, in which he seeks to reconcile the depth of characterization and richness of technique of mainstream literary fiction with the appeal of detective fiction. In these novels, William Crane and crew have been dismissed and replaced by solitary and more introspective protagonists: amateur sleuths whose profession as writers (newspaperman, Hollywood scriptwriter) makes them especially sensitive to the way words shape reality.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Anderson, Patrick. The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks, and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction. New York: Random House, 2007. Comprehensive history of the American thriller provides the tools to understand Latimer’s contributions to the genre.

Brubaker, Bill. Stewards of the House: The Detective Fiction of Jonathan Latimer. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1993. Monograph devoted to Latimer’s work and its place within American cultural history, as well as within the detective genre.

Latimer, Jonathan. Interview. The Writer 54 (December, 1941): 370-372. Provides insight into his creative process, as well as his perception of his relationship to his chosen genre.

Latimer, Jonathan. Interview by Jim McCahery in Megavore 11 (October 1, 1980): 16-22. Interview examines Latimer’s writing process and his career.

McCahery, Jim. “Jonathan Latimer’s William Crane.” The Not So Private Eye 1-2 (August/November, 1978): 5-10, 5-13, 48. Profile of Latimer’s most famous character, examining his fictional portrayal and comparing him to other famous detectives.

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 both the American and the British versions of the hard-boiled detective; provides perspective on Latimer’s work. Bibliographic references and index.