The Big Tribute
“The wheels were beginning to turn. From all parts of the country quiet, tough men slipped into the small southern coastal town and took up the final vigil.Donald Westlake acknowledged White's influence, which makes sense to me. A number of the Parker novels are driven by the personal and logistical conflicts that arise in the planning of a heist, and Westlake, too, paid tribute to Hammett in The Handle. Westlake being Westlake, he had some mischievous fun, making his protagonist, Parker, ignorant of Hammett's story "The Gutting of Couffignal":
“There was the arsonist, the safe blower, the boy-faced killer—there was a regiment of crack, lawless men waiting out the minutes until Saturday night—the night the town would explode into violence.
“For in the center of town sat the bank—a citadel of twelve million dollars, impregnable as Gibraltar, safe as a church.
“Safe—until precisely ten-fifteen on Saturday night. Until the wheels began to pick up momentum, and suddenly a fire lit the sky, and the power went off all over town and under way went the king-sized knockover. The grand slam.
“The Big Caper."
“Parker said, `So you want me to take his money away.'The guards in Westlake's comic novel Bank Shot work for the Continental Detective Agency, and Westlake acknowledges that for early influences on his writing, "We have to start, and almost end, with Hammett."
“`Right. I want you to pluck him like a chicken, scrape him clean. Don’t just rob the place, burn it to the ground, rip it right off that God damn island and throw it in the sea. Gut it, like Couffignal. Or don’t you know that one either?''”
So, what are your favorite tributes from one crime writer to another? Extra points for tributes to Hammett.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012