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None of these guys, Holmes, Wolfe, Marlowe, Spade, Spenser or Defience would flinch at a gunfight. You just don’t get the feeling they are spoiling to start one as the only remedy.

The late-Victorian London underworld was just as dangerous as San Francisco in the 1920s, Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s or modern Boston or New York. These villains can be businessmen attempting a cover-up, sociopathic killers, or well organized crime syndicates. Today we have terror organizations (and Holmes handled those too) but they are essentially the same villain in different clothing. How the detective handles the situation he finds himself in has to be similar. He will not be bought off by money or fear. He will protect the weak or free the innocent regardless of personal cost or gain. There is always a puzzlement to decipher whether it is a ‘whodunit’ or a ‘How we gonna prove they done it’ or a procedural, or a thriller. The Defience stories have much more of an adventurous tone as he winds his way through Manhattan and today’s version of outlaw gunfighters, mobsters, terrorists and murderous women. These stories are not police procedurals and while Slyvane cooperates with the authorities he still operates outside of their influence. He bristles at most authority and has actual disdain for corporate America yet can work in the corporate world as long as it stays on his terms. He has extreme trepidation to align himself with a recondite, pseudo-government agency interested in his talents. The worse the villain and those with terror ties, the more Slyvane has to seek out this organization’s assistance. The Slyvane stories, except for the first two, resemble more of a spy thriller than a detective story.

The women are always the most dangerous game. Holmes and Wolfe treated them curtly and with disdain, most likely as a defense-mechanism to avoid becoming besotted by them. Spade coldly turned one in to the cops after using her in several ways–not the least sexually. Slyvane probably suffers the most from women because unlike Holmes and Wolfe he does not hate them. Unlike Spade, he cares for them more than sexual objects. Unlike Spenser he has relationships with more than just one woman. It’s a different world today than what Marlowe walked in and Slyvane is more open to a relationship with an equal partner. Slyvane’s relationship with his secretary, Candy Dumond, is much more than what Spade had with Effie Perrine nor is it as sexually antiquated as Hammer and Velma’s relationship. Candy is an equal and quite frankly a better businessperson than Slyvane and he treats her as such. The fact that she is smoking hot and has a bimbo-sounding name, and he is well aware of this cliché, is purely ironic. Despite references to her looks and chauvinistic banter, Slyvane and the other two major characters treat Candy as an equal.

When the Slyvane Defience series starts, he is married and so in love that he is loathe to challenge his wife for much of the first book. By the middle of the book his true nature eventually prevails. While this situation of a husband not wanting to rock the boat is extremely true, it’s not what you expect in your detective hero. But this character trait is precisely one of the key aspects of the series set in our current time period. Slyvane will prevail but if he acted like his predecessors he would be an egotistical bully. Besides he is chauvinistic enough. In the second book, Slyvane’s wife divorces him and by the third and fourth book the reader just wants him to find a decent girlfriend. Many of the female characters are not plot driven, rather driven for character development. Slyvane is not always falling for the femme fatale or damsel in distress. These are women he meets out side of his professional life. The Slyvane books explore adult relationships almost as much as mystery-adventures. None of the other guys had to deal with these problems. Slyvane becomes a character appealing to female readers because of his traits. He had the ability to handle himself in every situation, to cook, to commit or have committed –and the 18-inch biceps don’t hurt either.

Slyvane Defience operates in the completely modern world of today as his predecessors did in their own time. This is inherently important in a detective novel too and why we like to read stories that can be 100 years old. They show us a period of time now gone by. Slyvane being a man of his time faces situations differently than someone would have 20, 40, 80 –or 100 years ago. Except for the gunfight, of course!

Sometimes the detective hero operates completely alone, as did Marlowe, Spade, (and Hammett’s far superior, although lesser known, Continental Op) or Hammer. Some had partners or associates. ‘Sidekick’ being a cruelly insouciant word for the role they played. It is unimaginable to think of Holmes, Wolfe, or Spenser without their supporting characters. Ultimately, however, it was up to the detective to resolve the issue.

I created Slyvane many years ago — long before I was privy to reading these great detective stories. Creating Slyvane was what launched my interest in them. He is not like them, yet his essence is. The regular supporting characters, while necessary to move the story along, are well defined individually and have a unique dichotomy together. Slyvane’s sense of fair play is not at the expense of coolly dispatching violence. Slyvane Defience is a uniquely singular character merely sharing the common elements readers need to have in their heroes. I hope you will find Slyvane Defience to be the heir apparent to the great detectives of fiction.

(Slyvane Defience is a copywrited character by Eric Bleimeister. All others mentioned herein are owned by their authors’ estate.)

Eric Bleimeister
Simsbury, CT
June 2010

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