Dwight 'Bucky' Bleichert in neo noir classic The Black Dahlia (2006). The film itself is merely OK, with a convoluted, confusing plot, and certainly less fascinating than the real Black Dahlia case from 1924. However, it is stylishly shot and you will almost certainly find yourself exhaling a sigh or two over Bucky, so I say it's worth watching.
Bucky is a typical alpha male, an ex-boxer turned cop, with a weakness for good-looking women and a gaping hole where his cultured side should be: 'I don't get modern art' Bucky says to Madeline, a femme fatale with whom he is entangled, 'I doubt modern art gets you, either', she snipes back. An illicit, thoroughly un-pc pleasure, Bucky's attractiveness is only enhanced by the fact that he is played by Josh Hartnett *swoon*, who I would probably fancy cast as the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
#4 The Sensitive
Alex Mavros from the dark, atmospheric crime-fiction trilogy by Paul Johnston. Described in the beginning of Crying Blue Murder as too handsome for his own good, this soulful, sensitive man is quite irresistible. I first got to know Alex when interning at Mills & Boon three years ago. I was told to read the trilogy and have a go at rewriting the blurbs (it's a hard life, I know); I fell in love with the half-Scottish, half-Greek private eye, and you probably will too.
Alex is handsome but what makes him irresistible is his sensitivity, unusual in crime fiction detectives: 'Mavros shook his head to dispel the thoughts... but the heart-rending beauty of the scene overwhelmed him.'
#3 The Louche
Charles Paris from the BBC audio book mystery series, adapted from the novels of Simon Brett. Charles Paris, played perfectly by Bill Nighy, is an endearingly dysfunctional jobbing actor, easily tempted by life's pleasures - mostly scotch and younger women as far as he is concerned - who lodges with his estranged wife Francis, who he is still in love with - oh, and who solves dark thespian crimes. Paris is alarmingly attractive for what is essentially an alcoholic old man (clearly turning 27 has led to my finally succumbing to the appeal of the Silver Fox). I highly recommend not just the sexiness of the character but also the brilliance of the series, which is so very funny and by far my favourite new audio book discovery.
Brendon Frye in Brick (2005). Again, I must confess a terrible weakness for Joseph Gordon-Levit, which stems from my teenage years, swooning over him in Third Rock from the Sun, but it's the character he plays in Brick who really shoots arrows through my heart. The film itself is a genius hybrid of film noir and teen drama, which sounds naff but actually works brilliantly: the intensity of high-school life and teenage emotion enhancing the 'mean streets' vibe that film noir brings to the table.
Devastatingly cool and collected, and always ready with clever one liners (intelligence is sexy, I say), Brendon, like most hard boiled detectives, is an outsider, who can't trust anyone. 'I can't trust you....With you behind me I'd have to tie one eye up watching both your hands, and I can't spare it' says Brendon, who begins and ends the film alone... I guess that means that he's still available...
#1 The Hero
Private Eye Philip Marlowe, creation of Raymond Chandler. I've yet to meet a woman who hasn't been left with an intangible dissatisfaction with reality after reading a Marlowe mystery. Marlowe is almost too good to be true. The ultimate hero, a good man in a bad world, Marlowe is not above rescuing damsels in distress, and he's not in it for the money either. 'You're so marvellous,' says Anne Riordan to Marlowe in Farewell My Lovely, 'So brave and determined and you work for so little money... What makes you so wonderful?'
And what makes Marlowe doubly attractive is just how unattainable he is: he isn't real, so obviously we can't have him, but, significantly, he remains ultimately elusive even to the most attractive female characters in the books: 'I'd like to be kissed, damn you!' continues Anne Riordan in Farewell my Lovely. Well, so would we Anne, so would we!
I would love to know who your dream detectives are!