Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Alcatraz Correction: Show Us the Money!

 It's a simple matter--or is it:  We almost never see the crusading paladin of any book or TV show collecting the green for their work.  I used the word paladin deliberately--because years ago I'd had Paladin, from Have Gun Will Travel, in mind when I began the first Boss MacTavin novel, Southern Scotch, and began to brood on the notion of a series.  I'd come up with an original spin, I believed, for my character and series:  Pete MacTavin, a disgraced athlete, comes back after a terrible beating as a rich and quirky Southern Scot, head of Boss Corrections.  Like Paladin, he has a favorite color--but Confederate gray and not black.  Like Paladin, he quotes from the classics--but almost exclusively Lord Byron.  Like Paladin, he dresses well when he isn't on the job, but he's by no means a dandy.

Bear with me for this paragraph.  Already I'd gone farther than past homages to Richard Boone's creation in setting El Bosso apart.  From Robert B Parker's Spenser to the Equalizer, we have heroes who quote the classics while helping poor souls in trouble.  The Equalizer dressed in black for action. (Note: Paladin was referred to, in one episode, as 'our equalizer'.) And Michael Madsen's Mr. Chapel often wore dark suits and dark shirts--based, I might add, in the Boone Paladin Motel.  But squeamishness about money afflicts the whole damned pack.  Nobody gets paid, not in our sight at least.  Though Spenser may refer to fat checks from big business stakeouts, he's too noble to collect from his clients, it seems.  The Equalizer was paid only once in the series--a small amount which he gave to charity.

For me, the matter was settled when I returned to the source, ordering several seasons of Have Gun on DVD.  Paladin decides, every now and then, to do pro bono work,  Rarely, he adjusts his steep (for the day) fee of $1,000:  in one memorable case, a barber sends him a check for $86, all he has to spare--and Paladin can't help but wonder how any man could think that 86 dollars could buy him.  Sometimes he takes his fee in trade:  a custom-tailored suit a year, for life, or two cases of very fine wine.  Still, he is a businessman who's determined to grow in both wealth and power.  And, for the most part, he gets paid. ...or else.  Paladin blows up a building in one show when the client tries to stiff him.  In another show, he raises his fee from a thousand to ten grand when a would-be client haggles).

My thinking changed after watching these shows.  While Boss MacTavin remained his own man, he grew in both his commitment to performing classic, enduring Corrections--and to being damned well paid.  Three pro bono cases a year, no more.  His fee is steep, but based on what a client can afford.  Occasional payment in trade.

Give Boss a try.  You may find the difference refreshing.


  1. I am giving Boss Pete MacTavin a try and he's like a fresh, crisp ocean breeze, thank you. I still can't figure out how he makes wearing an eye-patch sexy...--- Felicia

  2. Thanks, Felicia. If you want to have some fun, Google Hathaway shirt man--and you'll see the prototype I remodeled into the sexier Boss.


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