Robert Parker is not your average mystery writer. As you can tell from these pages he knows quite a bit about literature, and he has studied the great private detective novels of the past to take the genre even further.

Call him Doctor Parker. He obtained his PhD in English Literature from Boston University in 1971 based on the usual criteria, whatever they may be. One of them was his dissertation, "submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy."

The not-very-catchy title is "The Violent Hero, Wilderness Heritage and Urban Reality: A Study of the Private Eye in the novels of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler and Ross MacDonald."

You can order a copy very easily. Go to the ProQuest dissertation search site and enter publication number 7126462. With tax and shipping it's about forty bucks.* 

I took the pages down to my local Kinkos and had it spiral bound in plastic covers for ease of reading.

  • (As of 2017 you need to create a ProQuest account to order the dissertation. You can also search on, which allows you to search university library catalogs across the country. In February 2017, WorldCat lists 21 copies in university libraries across the United States, from Rutgers to Stanford, and another 7 overseas, in Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, and Australia.)

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