What was that crime novel that used carmageddon as a plot point
July 15, 2011 3:35 PM   Subscribe

What-was-that-book-filter: 70's or 80's (?) heist (?) novel that involved shutting down L.A. by closing a couple of freeways and the central telephone switching system.

So all this talk of "carmageddon" this weekend has made me remember a question I've always meant to ask metafilter. Some time in the mid-to-late-80's (I think... could possibly have been early 90's but I don't think so) I remember reading a crime novel that revolved around some sort of heist (I think) in LA.

Part of the plan was to shut down LA by engineering accidents that blocked several key arterials (one of which involved jackknifing a gravel truck so that it strewed its load across all lanes of either the 101 or the 405, I think), and also shutting down the phone system by doing something that may or may not have involved super glue.

I always assumed it was one of Westlake/Stark's Parker books, but I recently re-read all of them (including the later ones) and it's not. So what the hell was it? This has been bugging me for literally years.
posted by dersins to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
There's a Parker novel with this setup, but the shut-down town isn't LA. It's The Score, and the town they shut down is a small mining town in North Dakota.
posted by redfoxtail at 4:23 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yeah, not The Score. It's definitely LA and, like I said, I just re-read all the Parker books to make sure it wasn't one of them 'cause damn does it seem like it should have been.
posted by dersins at 4:28 PM on July 15, 2011

(And sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that you weren't aware of The Score, just that its existence is probably why it felt so much like the thing you're looking for must have been a Parker book. And in fact, I wonder if someone did an adaptation of The Score that moved the plot to L.A. It sure would be a lot harder to shut down L.A. than to shut down a tiny mining town, though. Also, I sure have said "town" and "down" enough times now.)
posted by redfoxtail at 4:33 PM on July 15, 2011

They're not a good match to your recollection, but staging a heist via shutting down traffic is a plot element in both the remake of The Italian Job (in L.A.) and a terrible movie called Gridlock (in New York), neither one of which was based on a book. I can't think of any Westlake heist books that take place in L.A., actually. (Or Elmore Leonard, Gerald Browne, or George Pelecanos.)
posted by snarkout at 4:55 PM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Metzger's Dog by Thomas Perry.

abe books
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:24 PM on July 15, 2011 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Oh shit that's it! Thank you! Out of curiosity, is that something you knew or are your googling skills just that much more advanced than mine?
posted by dersins at 6:34 PM on July 15, 2011

Metzger's D--- oh.
posted by Specklet at 6:43 PM on July 15, 2011

It's simply that I've read my dog-eared copy a dozen times now.

After you re-read it, If you're in the mood for another books that's are good yarns I'd suggest Brian Daley's Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds or Tapestry of magics. I tend to read sci-fi and fantasy much more than contemporary general fiction and that book has something of the same feel and mood.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:46 PM on July 15, 2011

If you liked Metzger's Dog well enough to remember it, you're in luck -- there are over a dozen other Thomas Perry books out there, and every one them is good enough for a re-read. Or two. Several of them are a series about a Native American woman, Jane Whitefield, who helps people disappear from their old lives, and three of them are a different series about a man called The Butcher's Boy. The rest are stand alone, and all are marvelous.
posted by kestralwing at 8:47 PM on July 15, 2011

Response by poster: My 1-cent (plus 3.99 shipping, of course) used copy of Metzger's Dog just arrived. I can't wait to re-read it and see how it holds up to my memory. Thanks metafilter!
posted by dersins at 4:33 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

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