Thursday Quotables – The Dain Curse
I asked him if he knew Eric Collinson. He said he did; there was nothing to know about him except that he was engaged to Gabrielle Leggett, that his father was the lumber Collinson, and that Eric was Princeton, stocks and bonds, and hard-ball, a nice boy.
‘Maybe,’ I said, ‘but he liked to me.’
‘Isn’t that like a sleuth?’ Fitzstephan shook his head, grinning. ‘You must have had the wrong fellow – somebody impersonating him. The Chevalier Bayard doesn’t lie, and, besides, lying requires imagination. You’ve – oh, wait! Was a woman involved in your question?’
‘You’re correct, then,’ Fitzstephan assured. ‘I apologize. The Chevalier Bayard always lies when a woman is involved, even if it’s unnecessary and put her through a lot of trouble. It’s one of the convention of Bayardism, something to do with guarding her honor or the like. Who was the woman?’
‘Gabrielle Leggett,’ I said, and told him all I knew about the Leggetts, the diamond and the dead man in the Golden Gate Avenue. Disappointment deepened in his face while I talked.
‘That’s trivial, dull,’ he complained when I was finished. ‘I’ve been thinking f Leggett in terms of Dumas, and you bring me a piece of gimcrackery our of O. Henry. You’ve let me down, you and your shabby diamond.’
Because I’m writing the Twenties and because I like mysteries, I of course wind up reading Dashiell Hammett. I can’t say that something clicked with him, which is kind of a shame, but there are things I do like about him. Definitely his style, which is essential in the extreme, but very effective, really natural-sounding and loaded with era lingo, which is certainly a bonus for me.
I also like his ability to create peculiar characters. Fitzstephan is sure one of these. A novelist with a sharp mind and an egocentric personality, a sharp wit… and a few secrets. He was the most fascinating in the book. I enjoyed all the episodes where he appears.
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