Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A hell of a party

You are having a dinner party for eight, including yourself, in a memorable setting. Where is this setting and which seven characters in crime fiction would you invite and why?

by Dietrich Kalteis

This question makes me feel like I’m about to sit down at a dinner table of strangers in an Agatha Christie novel, just as the lights are about to go out. It also reminds me of the board game Clue. 

So, I’m thinking along the lines of an Agatha Christie mystery, but instead of setting the party in the dining salon of a Nile steamer, I’ll make it Vancouver and invite my character Rene Beckman from Triggerfish. He not only lives here, but he’s cool and he’s got a boat, and we could hold the party onboard. He could take us to some cove on the backside of Bowen Island where we could anchor and party on a remote beach.

And since it’s a make-believe dinner party, we’ll need a chef. Julia Child would be perfect, or if she’s unavailable, Meryl Streep could play Julia. Neither of them are from crime fiction, but somebody’s got to cook. And since the guests are from crime fiction and might be shady, we’ll need some security. Hercule Poirot would seem appropriate, but I’ll go with Inspector Clouseau to solve any potential crimes that might pop up. Hercule would get the job done, but Clouseau’s more likely to add some humor to the situation.

Now, the dinner guests. There are so many interesting characters in crime fiction, and as much as I’d love to invite Lew Archer, Mike Hammer, VI Warshawski, Phillip Marlowe, Amos Walker, Eddie Coyle, Easy Rawlins, Harry Hole, Jack Reacher, Lisbeth Salander, Travis McGee, Jackie Burke, Dave Robicheaux, Raylan Givens and Sam Spade, things would likely get too intense. And Spenser would be wise-cracking all night, Matt Scudder would drink all the booze, and Parker would likely make off with the silverware.

So, aside from Rene Beckman, I’d love to chat with Dara Addie, from my novel The Deadbeat Club, and Frankie del Rey from Zero Avenue, because they’re both cool and would likely get along, and Frankie could bring along her guitar and play some tunes. Besides, what writer wouldn’t want to meet some of his or her own characters — kind of like a dream come true, or finding yourself on a movie set. And along with Rene, Dara and Frankie, I’d invite Karen Sisco and Jack Foley from Elmore Leonard’s Out of Sight. If nothing else, there’s sure to be some interesting dinner conversation. We’ll just have to make sure Karen isn’t armed. Another couple that would be interesting, although scheming and possibly dangerous, would be Frank Chambers and Cora Papadakis from James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. Although it would be safer to opt for Marge and Norm Gunderson from the movie Fargo. He’s not exactly a crime fiction character, but he is married to the chief of police of Brainerd, Miinesota, and they’re a cute couple. 

The guest card is full, but maybe we can sneak one more onboard as a bartender or something. And it would be a toss-up between Hoke Moseley from Charles Willeford’s Miami Blues fame, or CW Sughrue from James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss. They’re both intriguing characters, and either would know their way around mixing the drinks. And also, they could lend Rene a hand with the boat and help Clouseau keep an eye on the rest of the guests. 

It would surely be a memorable evening, one guaranteed to have good food, good drink, good music and lots to talk about. One thing I would bring along is one of those long handled flashlights just in case all the lights suddenly went out.


Paul D. Marks said...

Don't forget to spend some time on the seating chart/arrangements, Dieter. Every good dinner party has to have the perfect mix of who sits next to whom. And can I come?

Unknown said...

Complete pandemonium, Dieter. Can I come too?

RJ Harlick said...

I want to come too. We'd have a blast.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Hey, you're all welcome. We'll fit everybody on the boat.

Terry said...

Can I come? I'll be the cook. I'm a good cook and I've cooked on boats many time. I promise I won't poison anyone.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Well, since you promised not to poison anyone.

Gram said...

Hey - why not Travis ? I'm not going to be there if he and Cabot Sutter aren't there!!!