Declan believed in the holy trinity – Carver, Hammett, and Thompson – and in the other saints and relics of his hard-boiled religion.
He worshipped the ancient scrolls of Argosy, Black Mask, and Manhunt. He adored the Cains, Burnett, and Ms. Highsmith. His soul accepted Appel’s New York more readily than it did Block’s – though Block was the better writer – and that Green Ice was more fun to read than Maltese Falcon, though ditto Hammett, with genuflection. The stained glass portraits in the atrium of his church were of Scudder, Burke, Bosch, The Op, with the most impressive – the one that caught the sunset light – of Hammer. He had made his pilgrimage to the Mysterious Bookshop, and climbed the spiral staircase.
He believed Hawk deserved billing over Parker, Mouse above Easy.
He traveled with Milo and Sughrue. In a mellow mood he might hang out with Lew Archer, or Pronzini’s Nameless, and as silly as Bernie was, he was a decent guy to have at the beach, but anyone who read Doyle or Christie was just kidding himself – buy yourself a romance already, and get out of the way. He believed Shirley Jackson wrote as hard-boiled as anyone; so what if there was nary a gumshoe, she did have an Edgar. He knew Leonard’s westerns were really crime stories dressed up with Apaches and soldiers.
He believed Mick Ballou could always save the day.
And he believed in the femme fatale.
Especially after he met one in real life.