this post originally appeared on Cinematallica
Fictional heroes typically embody a series of human ideals such as doing the right thing, protecting the innocent, seeing that justice is properly served – all that crap. Fictional anti-heroes are more realistic as they tend to be flawed in very truthful ways. In crime fiction, the majority of the heroes are divorced alcoholics and if they’re not, they’re in a loveless marriage crumbling under their obsessive work habits.
The protagonists during the golden age of hardboiled fiction usually drank their way through cases. In Dashiell Hammett’s final novel The Thin Man, Nick and Nora mix themselves a martini pretty much every other page but a possible liquid dependency is never explored. Although Philip Marlowe liked to drink when he pondered over cases and chess problems, he never checked into AA. It’s not until contemporary times that we see heroes of crime fiction crippled by their vices. Nordic author Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole character, for example, is a chronic boozehound whose addiction leads him to some severely dark edges of morality.
Stuck in between the classic noir hero and the damaged detectives of modern times resides Hoke Moseley. First introduced by author Charles Willeford in his groundbreaking novel Miami Blues (1984), Hoke is simply one of the most believable creations in crime fiction history. Not just because he drinks and possesses other flaws we can see in our ourselves, but also because he’s just a working stiff going through the same issues as you and me. He’s not a drunk, but he drinks. He’s a good cop, but doesn’t really take his work home with him. Too put it bluntly, he’s utterly relatable.