Posts Tagged ‘Frenchie Boutette’

What’s In A Name?


January 16th, 2018 Posted 8:49 am

Too late for What’s In A Name? It should have been yesterday, the fifteenth! And once we could land men on the moon! (Twelve in all. When will the 13th be there?)

Mrs. Publicist: How about Boutette, the surname of that somewhat iffy Louisiana family in THE SOUND AND THE FURRY?

Pete (in his Spence voice): Good choice. I love the Boutette brothers! Baron (aka Frenchie), Duke, Lord, and Ralph.

Mrs. P: Ralph being the good one.

Pete: And he’s also the one that’s missing. I could have written a whole book of just the 3 iffy brothers talking. But you have to stay away from that sort of thing in the novel-writing world.

Mrs. P: Or else?

Pete: Or else the Department of Imagination revokes your card. But back to Boutette. Boute means “end” in French and so Boutette kind of means “little end.” That below-the-surface association always helps me with a character.

Mrs. P: Even if you’re the only one in on the secret?

Pete: Especially!

Mrs. P: Hmm. See you next month for another edition of What’s In A Name!




What’s In A Name?


January 17th, 2017 Posted 8:44 am

Mrs. Publicist: Past time for What’s In a Name, but we’ve been pushed around by the calendar.

Spencer Quinn: Love’s not time’s fool, but publishing most certainly is.

Mrs. P: Huh?

SQ: Not important. How about we look at the Boutette Brothers from THE SOUND AND THE FURRY?

Mrs. P: Frenchie Boutette is the one who hires Chet and Bernie, starts the whole ball rolling.

SQ: But his real name’s not Frenchie. As he explains, “Just my nickname out here in the west on account of coming from Louisiana and all.” His real name is Baron, and he has two equally shady brothers named Duke and Lord. There’s something aspirational going on there, crazily and unreachably aspirational, that I thought fit the setting quite well.

Mrs. P: Meaning Louisiana?

SQ: More like the feeling of Louisiana, the living myth.

Mrs. P: But there’s also a fourth brother.

SQ: Ralph. Can’t say much here without spoilers, but Ralph is very different from the others. The name is very vanilla, as though the parents had given up on aspiration by the time he came around – or somehow realized this one wasn’t going to need the boost.

Mrs. P: Thanks, Spence. See you February fifteenth for another edition of What’s In A Name!


What’s In A Name?


February 15th, 2016 Posted 7:32 am

Mrs. Publicist: Fifteenth of the month so it’s time for What’s In A Name, where Spence talks about character names from the Chet and Bernie series. It must be fun naming all these almost-real people, Spence.

Spence: For sure! But also a challenge, since I can’t really write the character until I find the right name. Incidentally, in my work, a character has to have at least a word of dialogue in order to merit a name. How about we look at the Boutette brothers from THE SOUND AND THE FURRY?

Mrs. P: Which mostly takes place in Cajun country down in Louisiana.

Spence: Exactly. “Bout” in French is “end” so Boutette is “little end.” The convict brother who originally hires C&B is called Frenchie, but it turns out his real name is Baron, and his two similarly semi-civilized brothers are called Duke and Lord.

Mrs. P: Something aspirational is going on?

Spence: You got it. And the missing brother, the one with real talent, is simply Ralph.

Mrs. P: Ha! A lot of thought goes into this.

Spence: But often not conscious thought. It just sort of happens sometimes – and that’s the fun part.

Mrs. P: Thanks, Spence. See you same time next month for more of What’s In A Name.


Sneak Peek: The Sound and the Furry


September 4th, 2013 Posted 9:22 am

I sat up straight. We rounded a curve and spotted some dudes in orange jump suits picking up trash by the road side, a sheriff’s van idling behind them, yellow light flashing. Bernie eased off the gas. We’d put a lot of perps into orange jump suits and you never knew when you’d bump into an old pal.

“Hey,” Bernie said. “Isn’t that Frenchie Boutette?”

The little roly-poly dude at the end, poking at a scrap of paper, missing, taking a short break? He glanced our way, recognized the car, easy to tell from how his eyebrows shot up. Yes, Frenchie for sure. We pulled over.

“Frenchie! How’s it going?”

Frenchie looked at Bernie, then at me, and backed away.

“Don’t be shy,” Bernie said. “We’re not going to bite you.”

“Think I’m fallin’ for that line again?” Frenchie said. “Slipped your mind how Chet bit me that last time, down in Arroyo Seco?”

“Come on, Frenchie. How can you call that a bite?”

“Because of all the blood,” Frenchie said.

“Barely a scratch,” Bernie said. “Booze thins the blood. And why did you try to run away in the first place?”

“Because I didn’t want to do time. Why else? Like maybe I was training for the Boston Marathon?”

Bernie laughed. “Haven’t lost your sense of humor.”

A sheriff’s deputy came over, shotgun pointed down, although not completely down. Weapons are something I keep a close eye on.

“What’s goin’ on here?” he said.

“I was just saying that Frenchie hasn’t lost his sense of humor.”

“Bernie?” the deputy said.

“Hey, Waldo,” said Bernie. “How’s it going?”

“Hundred and seven in the shade and I’m out here with the scum of the earth – how do you think it’s going?” Deputy Waldo said, the shotgun now pointed directly at the ground, just the way I like. “This Chet?”


“Heard about him.” Deputy Waldo gave me a close look. Right away, just from a change is his eyes – tiny eyes and pretty cold until this moment – I could tell he liked me and my kind. “A pretty big dude,” Waldo went on. “What’s he weigh?”

“Getting him on the scale’s not easy,” Bernie said.

I remembered that game! Bernie tried to pick me up, maybe with some idea of standing with me on the scale. Lots of fun, but no one picks me up, amigo.

“A hundred plus,” Bernie was saying. “And he’s strong for his size.”

“You got him from the K-9 program?”


“He flunked out – was what went down?” Waldo said. “Hard to believe.”

“A long story,” Bernie said.

And not one I wanted to dwell on at that moment. Flunked out on the very last day, with only the leaping test left, and leaping was my very best thing. The good part was I actually couldn’t dwell on it for long, on account of the details growing hazier in my mind every day. I was pretty sure a cat was involved, and maybe some blood – but I might have been getting it all mixed up with Frenchie’s blood. I’d never meant to do Frenchie any harm, just grab him by the pant leg, which was how we usually ended cases at the Little Detective Agency, but Frenchie had strangely chubby calves, and all of a sudden I’d found myself … best not to go there. Sometimes things happen before you even know it – let’s leave it at that.

Meanwhile Deputy Waldo was saying, “Is he allowed any treats?” He handed Bernie the shotgun, fished through his pockets. Allowed? That was a new one on me. “Don’t have any dog treats as such,” Waldo said. “But here’s a Slim Jim, kind of a weakness of mine.”

Not a whole Slim Jim – one end completely chewed off – but one thing was clear: Deputy Waldo and I were peas in a pod, although peas, in or out of the pod – and I had experience with both kinds – didn’t do it for me at all. Also I was kind of confused on the weakness part. The very next moment I was fully occupied and none of that – peas, pods, weaknesses – mattered the least little bit.

– coming Sept 10 (next Tuesday). Spence is thinking of reading this selection on the tour. 


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