When I ask my friends why we like to watch and read about private investigators, the answer is pretty consistent: because they’re fucking awesome.
They are, right? They work outside the law—or, rather, adjacent to the law—but they think like criminals. Many of them WERE criminals, maintaining a connection to the underworld via confidential informants.
So when I ask my friends how they feel about snitches (a layman’s term for “confidential informants”), the answer is also pretty consistent: fuck that noise.
These diametrically opposed reactions in the art’s intended audience make me wonder, how do PIs get a free pass for utilizing and sometimes being snitches? I think we first have to look at the origins of the detective novel, and where better to start than with Dashiell Hammett’s Nick Charles, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot?
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