Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Chandler vs. Hammett

I recently discovered the Google trends utility, and of course immediately typed in my own name to see how many hits I had. Google put me in my place with this response:

Your terms - "mark coggins" - do not have enough search volume to show graphs.

After I got over that, I entered the names of two guys I was almost as interested in that I figured had to have sufficient search volume: Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. The full results can be seen here, but I also pasted in a copy of the trend graph below:

As you can see Chandler holds a consistent lead, but Hammett spikes periodically, presumably at times associated with news about his life or work, such as the anniversary of the publication of The Maltese Falcon or release of a new biography.

The other interesting (but unsurprising) tidbit you can see in the full Google results page is that Hammett leads in searches done by people from San Francisco and Chandler has the biggest advantage in searches done by people from Los Angeles. It’s the LA vs. San Francisco competition in miniature—and probably just like that real competition, the people from LA don’t even realize there is one.

Here are some more search battles among mystery writers. See if you can guess the winner before clicking to bring up the Trends page:

Dorothy Sayers vs. Agatha Christie

Sue Grafton vs. Dick Francis vs. Tony Hillerman

Michael Connelly vs. Robert Crais vs. Denis Lehane vs. Harlan Coben

Lee Child vs. Barry Eisler

Janet Evanovich vs. Nora Roberts

Raymond Chandler vs Agatha Christie


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