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The Gutting of Couffignal


Get Shorty first editionFirst edition of 1945 collection
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First publication
1925 in Black Mask magazine

First book publication
1945 in The Return of the Continental Op story collection

Literature form

Crime, mystery, detective fiction

Writing language

Author's country
United States

Approx. 14,000 words

Notable lines

Wedge-shaped Couffignal is not a large island, and not far from the mainland, to which it is linked by a wooden bridge.

First line

"Is it—"
"I don't think it's an earthquake," I said, since that is the first calamity your Californian thinks of.

"Weegan killed? And the bank robbed?"
"Yes! Isn't it terrible?" She said it as if she were saying wonderful.

"I can't be looking out for you."
"I can look out for myself."
She pushed her cape aside to show me a square automatic pistol in one hand.

"Now I pass up about twenty-five or thirty thousand of honest gain because I like being a detective, like the work. And liking work makes you want to do it as well as you can. Otherwise there'd be no sense to it. That's the fix I am in. I don't know anything else, don't enjoy anything else, don't want to know or enjoy anything else. You can't weigh that against any sum of money. Money's good stuff. I haven't anything against it. But in the past eighteen years I've been getting my fun out of chasing crooks and tackling puzzles, my satisfaction out of catching crooks and solving riddles. It's the only kind of sport I know anything about, and I can't imagine a pleasanter future than twenty-some years more of it."

I had never shot a woman before. I felt queer about it.
"You ought to have known I'd do it!" My voice sounded harsh and savage and like a stranger's in my ears. "Didn't I steal a crutch from a cripple?"

Last lines