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Issue 4 - Scotch and the gumshoe

Whisky Magazine Issue 4
June 1999


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Scotch and the gumshoe

When a blonde walks into a sleuth's office the first thing he does is reach for the whisky bottle. Jeff Siegel dons trenchcoat and fedora and heads for the mean streets of detective fiction

Dalziel examined the tray with distaste and beckoned the waiter close. For an incredulous moment Pascoe thought he was going to refuse the drinks on the grounds that police officers must be seen to be above all favour.''From Mr. Fletcher, eh?'' said Dalziel. ''Well, listen, lad, he wouldn't be pleased if he knew you'd forgotten the single malt whisky, would he? Run along and fetch it. I'll look after pouring this lot.'''

Superintendent Andrew Hill may be gross, rude and crude, but as his partner Peter Pascoe, will be the first to admit, the Yorkshireman knows his whisky. And Dalziel never, ever passes up a chance at a fine single malt – especially when someone else is paying for it.

That trait is more than just a private quirk of Dalziel's. It is part of every hard-boiled detective's personality, public or private, American or English, for as long as there have been hard-boiled detectives. It has approached cliché: the trench coat, fedora and the slinky blonde who wanders into the office with an offer he (or she, these days) knows should be refused, but isn't; the first-person narrator with a voice as deep and distant as a mountain echo; the cop who is ordered to forget about the case, but doesn't; the flashing neon light outside the cheap hotel room, and the office bottle –- especially the office bottle.

A hard-boiled detective without a drink is like someone wearing clothes at a nudist colony. It's possible, but it's going to attract a lot of attention. Even today, ...

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