Thursday, February 26, 2015

2/26/1962 Donald E. Westlake's 87th Precinct?

February 26, 1962.  This is a complicated story, so bear with me. 

In  1959 Donald E. Westlake started writing a series of stories about Abe Levine, a New York police detective.  What made these stories unusual was that Levine was afraid that he had a heart condition that might kill him, and each of his cases was colored and shaped by his own dance with mortality.

(My first encounter with Westlake, by the way, was as a teenager when I read "Come Back, Come Back," the second Levine story, in a Hitchcock anthology.  It knocked my socks off.)

But the third story was called "The Feel of the Trigger," and Westlake (in his introduction to the book Levine)  said it "probably showed at its peak the influence of Evan Hunter on my development as a writer."  He had been reading the 87th Precinct books which Hunter had recently started writing under the name Ed McBain. 

And speaking of which, there was at the time a TV series based on those same books, and "The Feel of the Trigger" was purchased to serve as the basis of an episode of the same name on 87th Precinct, which was shown February 26, 1962. 

"Unfortunately, I couldn't be home that night," Westlake explained, "but a friend offered to tape the program for me.  Remember, we're talking about 1962, not 1982, and the tape he was talking about was sound.  He did record the program, and some time later I heard it, and my memory of it is a lot of footsteps and several doors being opened.  Some day I'd like to see that show." 

You can buy the whole series on DVD now.

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