I started to read a popular comic/science fiction take on private detective stories a few weeks back. It’s set in the present day, and parodied all the cliches of a century of private eye fiction. Based on the reviews I think it was going for comedy-melodrama, rather than straight comedy, but I lost interest long before I hit that point.

Then I read the original “Perry Mason” novel from 1932. Perry Mason is a lawyer but he’s basically a private eye. This one had all the cliches too. But after a half-century of PI parodies – and only parodies – this one seemed fresh.

I wonder if someone could launch a private eye series today, with all the old situations and furniture, and make it work? Has the cliche gone so far out of style that it’s fresh again?

Mitch Wagner @MitchWagner