Sunday, April 01, 2018

No Foolin’: 20 Years of Gumshoes, Shamuses, Peepers, Snoops, and a Private Richard or Two

Today marks two decades since the launch of one of the Web’s most valuable and interesting resources for crime-fiction lovers: Kevin Burton Smith’s Thrilling Detective Web Site.

As the Canadian-born Smith—once a resident of Montreal, Quebec, now living in the sun-seared environs of Southern California—recalled in a blog post late last year, he uploaded “a tentative few pages” of the prospective site in November 1997. Encouraged by favorable responses from friends, he “scrambled to make it more presentable, and I officially released the site to the big bad world on April 1, 1998, trying (and inevitably failing) to keep up with the ever-expanding world of private-eye fiction—past, present and future.” Ever since, the Thrilling Detective Web Site has grown and grown still more. “Let me tell you, it’s been one wild ride,” Smith writes. “A time-consuming monster that gobbles up every bit of time it can. And I’ve loved it.”

The results of Smith’s efforts are obvious and deserving of honors. Where else but in the electronic depths of his site can you find so much information about fictional private investigators, those born in books and magazines, as well as others conceived for television, film, and radio presentation? I, for one, cannot skim Smith’s lists of P.I.s without succumbing to curiosity about some now-obscure character or another (Torchy Blane? Ken Corning? Cotton Moon?). Of course, he’s got the better-known figures covered, too, folks such as Lew Archer, Philip Marlowe, Kinsey Millhone, Joe Mannix, Sam Spade, Jacob Asch, Sharon McCone, Milo Milodragovitch, and Thomas Banacek. Not a week goes by nowadays that I don’t find myself looking up—and linking to—something in the Thrilling Detective Web Site. It has often occurred to me that, were both Wikipedia and Smith’s site to disappear, half of the exterior links in The Rap Sheet might go dead.

Smith has promised to roll out a special 20th-anniversary edition of the Thrilling Detective Web Site sometime today, and I’ll be looking forward to reading what it offers (and probably commenting more on it later). In the meantime, though, let me just wish the site a happy birthday. If you aren’t already addicted to the Thrilling Detective Web Site, you’re likely to be after investigating it further.

4 comments:

Mark Coggins said...

Bravo!

Rick Robinson said...

It is a fine thing, indeed. I visit often, though as it has become more and more labyrinthian, I sometimes have a hard time finding just what I was looking for. I was an early contributor, but it outgrew my feeble efforts. Congratulations, Kevin, on a fine job.

TracyK said...

Amazing. I use that site all the time and have for a long time, but I did not realize that it was 20 years old.

Kevin Burton Smith said...

Ricky, Ricky, Ricky... that's why there's a search bar on the homepage. I'd like to have a bar on every page, of course. Of some sort...