For as long as I can remember I have loved a flavor of the detective story, where there’s a main protagonist and a heavy who backs him/her up. I’ve always read these stories as much for the Heavy, as for the Detective.
A short time ago, Donald Sobol, the creator of the Encyclopedia Brown stories, passed away. What follows is a short, overdue homage to his influence on me, and his introduction of the Heavy to my reading life.
Because the first “Heavy” I ever met was Sobol’s Sally Kimball, partner in crime to Encyclopedia Brown. I just fell in love with their dynamic, the sleuth and the heavy, a deceptively simple relationship with so much depth lurking behind the scenes.
Decades would pass and my favorite crime stories would invariably feature a sleuth and a Heavy. Easy Rawlins and Mouse. Burke and Max. Partnerships that never ceased to enthrall, for reasons I never fully understood why.
Until the moment came a few weeks ago to reflect on Sobol, his world, and Sally.
Childhood roots, impressions that persist.
Sally, the Original Heavy.