Re: RARA-AVIS: Ross Thomas

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 04 May 2000

Tim wrote:

"But for a handfull of his most recent, Thomas' books just aren't easy to find. I'd like to see a list of Thomas' best. Then I can shop around on ebay or bibliofind."

Actually, Tim, I've found just the opposite, except for a few, they are very easy to find in the used bookstores I frequent. Most went through several reprintings, but he isn't that well known outside certain circles, so his books tend to languish in used stores. I picked up all of mine years ago, but I've since picked up a number of copies to turn other people onto him and have always found them pretty easily and quickly.

I always start with Chinaman's Chance. (I think it was the first Thomas I read after the Bleeck's, which I read after seeing the Bronson movie, St. Ives.) It's just a great con novel with very memorable characters. It's funny as hell, but not in the humorous caper style of, say, Dortmunder; the humor is a bit more perverse, bordering on black.

Basically, you can't go wrong with Thomas, though you can go in several different directions with him. The Mac and Padillo books are spy books. There are a number of con job books, several featuring Wu and Durant, who were introduced in Chinaman's Chance. Most are non-series books, although characters from other books may pop in and out quickly (did everyone notice Padillo's small role in Seersucker Whipsaw?).

All of his books are based on massive research, so no matter how outrageous the event, it was probably based very closely on a real one. Many of the books are set behind the scenes of various elections; one of Thomas's former professions was political PR. Almost every one of his books has a character explain his theory behind the JFK assassination.

Great stuff. And add me to the fans of The Eighth Dwarf.


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