"Down these mean streets a man must go," wrote Raymond Chandler on the subject of the detective novel. Few knew he was paying tribute to another writer, now almost forgotten, who wrote about the mean streets of London's Docks around 1900. In TALES OF MEAN STREETS, CHILD OF THE JAGO, and THE HOLE IN THE WALL, Arthur Morrison wrote about the world into which he was born. (Interestingly, he also wrote some great detective novels at the same time that Doyle was writing his Sherlock Holmes stories.)
Some of the stories in TALES OF MEAN STREETS seem sentimental today: There is no lurid sex, the cursing is subject to the "code" of Queen Victoria's day, and much of the violence takes place off stage. If you accept the givens of that day, you will enjoy Morrison; and you will see how the American detective novel and the film noir owe far more to Morrison than to Conan Doyle or anyone else. Morrison deserved to be remembered and honored.