Death Lit: Drinking with Ace

Ace Atkins was parachuted into town by his publisher for a signing last night, and even though he had a 6 a.m. plane to catch today of course he went out drinking with me and Vince Emery and one of his blues pals, who is working on a documentary film about Howlin’ Wolf and met many of the classic Chicago bluesmen, and Memphis bluesmen — pretty much every bluesman. 

After a round in a swanky hotel bar we hit the streets. Got turned away at the door for Bourbon and Branch because we didn’t have a reservation, or they didn’t like our looks, or whatever. I think Vince was offended, but this isn’t Philadelphia where you can walk for blocks without seeing a bar and maybe die of thirst.

Up on the next corner we stepped into the classic TL dive the High Tide — last time I drank in there with Bill Arney, a Filipino ex-military guy took Bill into the can to show him the scars from where he had been bluewormed. Authentic.

Ace mentioned that some Spenser fans had been complaining that recent novels in that series by Bob Parker had been light on Hawk — he promises that his first book in the series will be Hawk heavy.

I read a Spenser once after the 1982 Bouchercon, but was vaguely interested when Ace told us that Parker took the plot from Hammett’s Op story “The Gutting of Couffignal” as the basis for a couple of his novels, and the plot from “Corkscrew” for another. Don’t think I’ll track those down, but it’s another piece of info to toss onto the mountain of Hammett’s influence.

Vince also had a partial answer to a question someone asked on one of the May tours: When are the promised new, bigger, revised Hammett bios from William F. Nolan and Richard Layman going to see print? No word on the Nolan, but Vince says Layman has turned in his revamp on Shadow Man. But here’s the trick: the revamp is going to appear in French and only in French, which won’t do most of us much good. At least in the short term — maybe an American edition will appear later.

The photo above dates from Ace’s last San Francisco tour in 2009, but he was taking lots of snaps, so if you hop over to his website or Facebook page you might find some images from this round.

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