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General Chat > Wise Cracking & Razor Sharp Banter, which Characters Deliver?

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message 1: by 1864 (new)

1864 | 1 comments ok, who are your favorite wise cracking with razor sharp banter characters? You know the Clete Purcel and Junior Bender types .......

message 2: by Evgeny (new)

Evgeny Wise cracking: gotta go with classic. Nero Wulfe's partner/secretary/sidekick Archie Goodwin from Rex Stout.

message 3: by Jonetta (new)

Jonetta (Ejaygirl) Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar tops my list.

message 4: by Scout (new)

Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 1323 comments Robert B. Parker's Spenser.

message 5: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 58 comments Evgeny wrote: "Wise cracking: gotta go with classic. Nero Wulfe's partner/secretary/sidekick Archie Goodwin from Rex Stout."

This was my first thought, too!

message 6: by Angelo (new)

Angelo Marcos (AngeloMarcos) | 224 comments Yup, I'd say Myron Bolitar too.

message 7: by Jeanie (last edited Nov 23, 2012 06:03PM) (new)

Jeanie (Birdyseeds) | 382 comments ROFL! I just mentioned these guys in another thread! Robert Crais's Elvis Cole, Nelson DeMille's John Corey, Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie in his lighter moments, and, if you don't mind the paranormalcy in your PI's Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden...all four are snarky smart-arses. ;) Myron is up there, as well, but Elvis, John and Harry have him beat.

message 8: by Jonetta (new)

Jonetta (Ejaygirl) How could I forget Harry!!!!

message 9: by Brian (new)

Brian Thornton | 12 comments Oh come on.

The guy who started it all:



message 10: by Jackmeister (new)

Jackmeister | 610 comments I agree with Jeanie on Robert Crais - Elvis Cole and Dennis Lehane - Patrick Kenzie now also Joel Goldman - Lou Mason a Lawyer in a five book series, he's pretty good too!

message 11: by Mike (new)

Mike French | 2 comments Steve Solomon ( Solomon vs Lord series) by Paul Levine is one of my favorites!

message 12: by Harley (new)

Harley Christensen (HarleyChristensen) | 1258 comments I completely agree with Evgeny and Susan - Nero Wolfe's Archie Goodwin tops my list!

message 13: by Dorie (new)

Dorie (DorieAnn) | 464 comments I think David Rosenfelt's character Andy Carpenter would fit this description as well.

Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder* (ErinPaperbackstash) | 0 comments I always liked Milo from The Alex Delaware series

message 15: by Nicolette (new)

Nicolette (NicoletteG) | 10 comments I love DI Steele in the Logan MacRae series by Stuart MacBride.

message 16: by R.M.F (new)

R.M.F Brown | 239 comments Never heard of these characters or these books. I am a Philistine!

message 17: by Bernie (new)

Bernie Dowling (beedeed) | 80 comments Brian wrote: "Oh come on.

The guy who started it all:



I agree: Noir poetry: "I don't mind if you don't like my manners. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter nights."

message 18: by Bernie (new)

Bernie Dowling (beedeed) | 80 comments Bernie wrote: "Brian wrote: "Oh come on.

The guy who started it all:


I agree: Noir poetry: "I don't mind if you don't like my manners. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long win..."

On this point, I think Hammett is the better writer but Chandler is funnier.
This might stir discussion; perhaps worth a thread.

message 19: by Terry (new)

Terry Rutherford (TerrierPines) Marlowe and McGee were early but I think Spenser perfected it,but not in the first of the series, which was very different from those that followed. Less nihilistic.

message 20: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 2 comments Yes, DI Steel is quite a character. I have only read three of the books in the Logan McRae series, so I need to get a few more.

message 21: by Jeremy (new)

Jeremy (01jeremy) Anyone have examples of the dialogue in these books? Except Chandler, I already know his pretty well. And which books would you recommend? I wish I had the time to look into them all, but I don't right now.

message 22: by Terry (new)

Terry Rutherford (TerrierPines) Here's somedialogue from Robert Parker's Spenser in Small Vices:

Parisi: [Spenser and Hawk are confronted by Bruce Parisi and two thugs] You Spenser?
Spenser: I am he.
Parisi: You're working on the Ellis Alves case.
Spenser: Day and night.
Parisi: I was told to make this plain to you. You leave that case alone from here on.
Spenser: [Spenser balances an empty styrofoam cup on the back of his hand in front of Parisi] You know what I can do with this cup?
Parisi: Cup?
Spenser: [Spenser punches Parisi in the groin with the other hand, as he and Hawk pull out their weapons before anyone can react] You should have been prepared for the off chance that we wouldn't be paralyzed by fear.

I miss him so (Robert Parker died at his desk not long ago, age 77.)


message 23: by Jeanie (last edited Dec 10, 2012 06:08PM) (new)

Jeanie (Birdyseeds) | 382 comments I copied the following dialogue from an online article by Tom Jenkins regarding Robert Crais' Elvis Cole. It's difficult for me to quote from most of these books because I have most of them only in audio.

In Free Fall, after Cole feels he has met his assignment for Jennifer Sheridan, he tries to arrange a private meeting to tell her what he has discovered about her fiancé, an undercover policeman named Mark Thurman. But she insists on meeting in a restaurant. She had asked Cole to find out if Thurman were engaged in some kind of criminal activity, but Cole had uncovered something different:

“ ... there is no indication that Mark has received any undue or inordinate
sums of money.”

She looked confused. “What does that mean?”

“It means that he is not acting strangely because he’s involved in crime. There’s a different reason. He’s seeing another woman.”

Jennifer refuses to believe this news even after Cole tells her Mark himself had revealed it to him, but Mark had not known how to tell her himself. She insists in believing Mark is in some kind of criminal trouble and that Cole is making up the explanation about “another woman.” She wants proof, and Cole tells her of the presence of a bra (not Jennifer’s) in Mark’s apartment and seeing Mark and the woman at a bar.

“I wish I had better news, but there it is,” I said. “I have looked into the matter and this is what I have found. I think my work is done.”

“You mean you’re quitting?”

“The case is solved. There’s nothing left to do.”

Jennifer’s eyes welled and her mouth opened and she let out a long wail and began to cry. A woman with big hair at a nearby table gasped and looked our way and so did most of the other people in the restaurant.

I said, “Maybe we should leave.”

“I’m all right.” She made whooping sounds like she couldn’t catch her breath and tears rolled down her cheeks. The waiter stormed over to the maitre d’ and made an angry gesture. The woman with the big hair said something to a man at adjoining table and he glared at me.

“Try and see it this way, Jennifer. Mark being involved with another woman is better than being involved in crime. Crime gets you in jail. Another woman is a problem you can work out together.”

Jennifer wailed louder. “I’m not crying because of that.”
“You’re not?”

“I’m crying because Mark’s in trouble and he needs our help and you’re quitting. What kind of crummy detective are you?”

After further conversation between the two of them, including Jennifer’s telling the waiter that Cole’s a “quitter,” the waiter leaves. She wants even more proof. The other people in the restaurant are whispering among themselves and some have gotten to their feet to talk more about it.

Jennifer was crying freely now and her voice was choking. “He needs us Mr. Cole. We can’t leave him like this. We can’t. You’ve got to help me.”

The woman with the big hair shouted, “Help her, for God’s sakes!!"
Three women at the window booth shouted, “Yeah!”

Cole finally agrees to stay with it. Jennifer thanks him and bubbles with satisfaction. The people in the restaurant looks relieved and nod to one another, smiling. The restaurant returns to normalcy. Everybody is happy. Well, almost everyone.

“Jesus Christ,” I said. The waiter appeared at my elbow. “Is there something wrong sir?”

I looked at him carefully. “Get away from me before I shoot you.”

In an earlier scene right after Jennifer first hires Elvis:

I leaned back and I put my feet up, and I wondered why Mark Thurman and his mean-spirited partner Floyd Riggens were following Jennifer Sheridan while they were on duty. I didn't like the following, but I didn't have very long to wonder about it.

At twelve fifty-two, Mark Thurman and Floyd Riggens came in.

They didn't kick the door off its hinges and they didn't roll into the office with their guns out like Crockett and Tubbs used to do on Miami Vice, but they didn't bother to knock, either.

The guy I figured for Floyd Riggens came in first. He was ten years older than Thurman and maybe six inches shorter, with a hard, squared-off build and weathered skin. He flashed his badge without looking at me and crossed to Joe Pike's office. I said, "It's empty." He didn't pay attention.

Mark Thurman came in after him and went out onto the balcony, like maybe a couple of Colombian drug lords had ducked out only seconds ago and were hanging off the side of the building with grappling hooks and Thurman wanted to find them. He looked bigger in person than he had in the pictures, and he was wearing faded khaki fatigue pants and a red jersey that said LANCASTER HIGH VARSITY. Number 34. He looked younger, too, with a kind of rural innocence that you rarely find in cops, sort of like Dragnet as played by Ronnie Howard. He didn't look like a guy who'd be into crime, but then, what does a criminal look like? Boris Badenov?
Riggens came out of Pike's office and scowled at me. His eyes were red and swollen and I could smell the scotch on his breath even though he was standing on the other side of the chairs. Hmm. Maybe he didn't have the weathered look, after all. Maybe he had the drunk look. Riggens said, "We need to talk about the girl."

I gave him innocent. "Girl?"

Riggens squinted like I'd spit on his shirt and grinned out the corner of his mouth. Mean-spirited. "Oh, I like it when jerks like you get stupid. It's why I stay on the job."

"What are you drinking to get eyes like that - Aqua Velva?"

Riggens was wearing a baggy beachcomber's shirt with the tail out, but you could still make out the butt of his piece riding high on his right hip. He reached up under the shirt and came out with a Sig 9-mil and said, "Get your ass against the goddamned wall."

I said, "Come on."

Mark Thurman came in off the balcony and pushed the gun down. "Jesus Christ, Floyd, take it easy. He doesn't know what this is about."

"He keeps dicking with me, he won't make it long enough to find out."

I said, "Let me guess. You guys work for Ed McMahon and you've come to tell me that I've won the Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes for a million bucks."

Riggens tried to lift his gun but Thurman kept the pressure on. Riggens's face went red to match his eyes and the veins swelled in his forehead, but Thurman was a lot stronger, and sober, so it wasn't much of a problem. I wondered if Riggens acted like this on the street, and if he did, how long he had been getting away with it.

Stuff like this will get you killed. Thurman said, "Stop it, Floyd. That's not why we're here."

Riggens fought it a little longer, then gave it up, and when he did Thurman let go. Riggens put the Sig away and made a big deal with the hand moves and the body language to let everyone know he was disgusted. "You want to do it, then do it, and let's get out of here. This asshole says she wasn't even here." He went to the couch and sat down. Petulant.

So, there's a little sampling of Elvis Cole...sort of a west coast Spencer with a penchant for Disney memorabilia and mostly lost causes. (smile)

message 24: by Lance (new)

Lance Charnes (lcharnes) | 378 comments Nobody's mentioned Elmore Leonard yet. At his best, his dialog is poetry in the same way as is Chandler's.

Also, Carl Hiaasen and Marshall Karp (a West Coast Carl Hiaasen) both go for mordant, ironic wit in the strange situations they cook up for their characters.

message 25: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie (Birdyseeds) | 382 comments I love Carl Hiaasen. "Basket Case" is probably my favorite book by him, although they're all fabulous! I like Elmore Leonard, too.

message 26: by Mike (new)

Mike | 89 comments Although I wouldn't put him in quite the same category as those previously mentioned, I always thought Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr (star of The Burglar series) was a pretty witty guy in the wisecracking department.

message 27: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 58 comments I forgot Carl Hiaasen - he has a great balance to his stories, I think. I chuckle whenever I read his books.

message 28: by Bernie (new)

Bernie Dowling (beedeed) | 80 comments None of today's Big Guns, Patterson, Childs, Connelly seem to dabble in wisecracks. At least in my humble effort, I have the wise cracks and the Femme Fatale. Where has she been all these years? I miss her and who let Britney Spears appropriate our FF.

message 29: by Carolien (new)

Carolien (Carolien_S) | 77 comments Spenser and Hawk - I agree with Terry - I miss them.

Kinsey Millhone by Sue Grafton.

Kinky Friedman has some classic dialoque as well.

message 30: by Jerry (new)

Jerry H | 43 comments When I saw this thread I immediately thought of John Sutter in Nelson DeMille's 'Gold Coast'. It has laugh-out-loud passages.

message 31: by Eddie (new)

Eddie | 15 comments While Spencer is my clear winner, I only experienced one bad novel, which I will not share.

I do find Jack Reacher full of smart "Wise Cracking & Razor Sharp Banter." when he chooses. I love how many times a book "Reacher said nothing" Which will be tough to show in the movie.( and I do not wish to think about Tom playing our hero)

message 32: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie (Birdyseeds) | 382 comments Jerry wrote: "When I saw this thread I immediately thought of John Sutter in Nelson DeMille's 'Gold Coast'. It has laugh-out-loud passages." His John Corey is much the same... that particular character's ability to state the obvious at the most inconvenient not to mention inappropriate times never fails to make me snicker.

message 33: by Terry (new)

Terry Rutherford (TerrierPines) Love NelsonDeMille. Good patter.

message 34: by Sandi (new)

Sandi | 451 comments Nero Wolfe's Archie Goodwin.

message 35: by Mike (new)

Mike Hey, Jeanie, I'm reading "Free Fall" now, but it was fun looking back over what I'd just read. Elvis and Joe Pike are great, thanks!

message 36: by Georgia (new)

Georgia | 509 comments I've never tried reading Kinky Friedman, but use to see him on TV once in awhile. Maybe I'll look him up and read one of his. Also I have to try Spencer, never have
read any of Parker's mysteries. Now is the time, I guess even tho' I have sacks full of books hidden everywhere. Hope I get to them all. Enjoy this "thread"

message 37: by VickiLee (new)

VickiLee | 483 comments Wimsey and Bunter
Eve Dallas and Peabody
Kinsey Milhone
Spencer and Hawk forever.

message 38: by Terry (new)

Terry Rutherford (TerrierPines) I seem to recall "sassy" patter in the VI Warshawski series by Sara Paretsky, but I may be wrong. The series is not what it once was so read the early stuff first...

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