Thursday, July 10, 2008

When one crime writer honors another by name

My favorite tribute to the late Janwillem van de Wetering, author of the Grijpstra and De Gier mysteries, came years before his death. Håkan Nesser named the protagonist of his long-running Swedish crime series Van Veeteren in honor of Van de Wetering. Nesser told me last month that he "enjoyed De Gier and Grijpstra a lot, of course, perhaps the way they sort of look in the wrong direction most of the time, not really concerned about their work."

I take his comment as a neat encapsulation of the duo's unorthodox crime-solving techniques, of their seeking answers through contemplation and indirection as much as, if not more than, through forensics. In any case, Nesser's own work has something of the sly humor of Van de Wetering's, and the tribute is apt.

In a post last summer, I discussed other such tributes, including Andrea Camilleri's having named his protagonist, Salvo Montalbano, in honor of Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, author of the Pepe Carvalho novels. Readers cited other authors who had offered creative tributes, including Stuart MacBride, Ken Bruen and more from Camilleri.

What other authors have paid tribute in print to their own favorite writers? Who did so in paticularly creative ways? Sara Paretsky has named streets and hotel banquet halls in her V.I. Warshawski books for favorite crime writers, and I believe Carolyn G. Hart gave books by her favorite authors roles in her own work. Add to this list, please.

On Van de Wetering, here's what the Telegraph wrote in February when it included him on its list of "50 crime writers to read before you die" (complete with a minor misspelling of his name) along with a comment I posted on this blog in reaction:

Janwillem van de(!!) Wetering (1931-): "The capers of Grijpstra and de Gier, aka The Amsterdam Cops, are oddly appealing. One plays the drums; the other the flute. They frequent canals. There's a cat. Unique and very Dutch. Read: Outsider in Amsterdam (1975)" (Detectives Beyond Borders says: Outsider in Amsterdam may exemplify the "very Dutch" side of van de Wetering. Hard Rain highlights the "unique" side, delightfully reflecting the author's experience with Zen Buddhism and my favorite in the series.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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Blogger adrian mckinty said...


I gave my hero Michael Forsythe the pseudonym Brian O'Nolan in 3 books. Brian O'Nolan is Flann O'Brien's real name and author of that surreal detective novel The Third Policeman. Of course no one noticed. The lesson I think is that you're going to pay tribute, then make it obvious. I will in the future. Look for a villainous assassin named Rozovsky, hacking his way through opponents.

July 10, 2008  
Blogger Philip said...

Karin Fossum pays a lovely tribute to Sjowall and Wahloo (who better?) -- Konrad Sejer's elderly and much-loved dog is named Kollberg.

July 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh, I don't know. Some of these tributes are subtler than others. I'm not sure I'd have made the Montalban/Montalbano connection if I hadn't read about it. The names are probably not all that rare, and the first names are different. I'd probably have speculated about a Van Veeteren-Van de Wetering tie, which would have been fun, but Nesser jumped the gun at a reading, asked me if I'd read the Grijpstra and De Giers, and told me about his tribute to Van de Wetering when I replied that I had.

Anyhow, if this has a point, it's that if you're going to pay a tribute, don't make it too obvious. Let the readers have a bit of fun. Let them be pleased with themselves for solving a puzzle. So if you name a villainous assassin for me, spell his last name with an s instead of a z, or something.

July 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Philip, that is indeed a charming tribute. I have just bought a copy of The Indian Bride. I shall read it with added interest, alert for canine contributions to the story.

July 10, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christopher Brookmyre's Jack Parlabane and Simon Darcourt have the same names of two of the main characters of Robertson Davies'novel The Rebel Angels,but entirely different histories and personalities.The effect is very strange.

July 10, 2008  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Philip Kerr names the Argentinian police colonel in A Quiet Flame Montalban. But then that may be a very common name in Buenos Aires?

July 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've read one of Brookmyre's Parlabane novels, but it had been so many years since I read The Rebel Angels that I'd forgotten the name. That strange effect you mention may be precisely what Brookmyre wants, give his sense of humor.

July 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Uriah, I shall research this matter of names. Montalaban may indeed be a common name in Buenos Aires, which would make it easy for Kerr to render the tribute. I cold also check with my cousins from that part of the world on the name.

July 10, 2008  
Blogger Gerard Brennan said...

Declan Huges's protagonist in the "of Blood" novels is named Ed Loy. A loy is a type of spade. Sam Spade!

And Adrian McKinty didn't mention it above, but The Bloomsday Dead is very much a tribute to Leopold Bloom's journey in Joyce's masterpiece, Ullysses. This one's a little more obvious that the Brian O'Nolan reference.

July 11, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Gerard, I thank you for increasing my stock of knowledge. I've read two of the Ed Loy books without having any idea what a Loy was, other than a gorgeous movie star who played Nora Charles.

I like this and the Brian O'Nolan reference. They're perfect, really. The authors have unobtrusive fun, readers in on the game can feel proud of themselves for getting the references, and other readers are none the wiser.

July 11, 2008  

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