Hammett: Angel Eyes

Tenderloin Terry Zobeck seeks out the Shadow of Hammett everywhere, and he tells me:

I think we’ve discussed Ace Atkins’ continuation of the Spenser novels before. I usually don’t like such things, but he capture’s Parker’s style uncannily well. 

The new one is called Angel Eyes. It’s a wandering daughter job. Spenser is hired to find a woman’s daughter who has gone missing in Los Angeles. 

After a few chapters something started to ring a bell with me. The girl’s name is Gabby Leggett. Her boyfriend’s name is Eric Collinson. She’s fallen under the spell of a new age guru named Joe Haldorn, who has a female assistant named Riese.   

I’m no sleuth but eventually I tumbled to the homage to The Dain Curse

Oh, and Spenser’s contact at LAPD is a detective named Samuelson. 

So far, no writer named Fitzstephen.

In another nice touch we get a cameo by Robert Crais’ Joe Pike. Spenser goes for a run and coming the other way is a large guy wearing a sweat-shirt with the sleeves cut off, two red forward-facing arrows tattooed on his deltoids, and mirrored shades. They nod to one another and pass on by.

Even the title is a nice allusion to the classics, “Angel Eyes” being a terrific saloon song from the 1950s, performed brilliantly by Frank Sinatra on Sings for Only the Lonely. The late and underappreciated Edward Wright also drew inspiration from the song with the title of his While I Disappear, a phrase taken from the last line of the song.

This discovery reminds me of San Francisco’s Mark Coggins’ Vulture Capital, a clever homage to The Glass Key, right down to the image of the key on the front board. When I presented him with my copy for signing a few years ago at a Bouchercon, I told him how much I liked the Hammett inspiration. 

Coggins told me I was the first person to notice it. 

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