Re: RARA-AVIS: Recent reads

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 28 May 2002

--- K Montin <> wrote:
> James Crumley, The Mexican Tree Duck followed by
> Bordersnakes. Purely
> coincidentally, I read them in the right order. Milo
> doesn't figure in the
> first, and in the second, alternate first-person
> chapters are narrated by
> him and Shugrue. If I were writing a thesis on the
> subject, I could
> probably find features to distinguish their voices,
> but in a quick read it
> was the content, not the form, that gave it away.
> That, and the helpful
> chapter headings. Too many people to count get
> killed, usually shot. The
> stories are convoluted and move right along. The
> Mexican Tree Duck I found
> somewhat more implausible than Bordersnakes, but
> they're both worth a read.
> I am not a Western fan, but I see elements of the
> Western in them, starting
> with the setting.

That's pretty astute. I think Crumley's books since DANCING BEAR are best appreciated more as buddy Westerns than traditional PI fare. I loved both of these, but I'm a slavering Crumley fan. Haven't read the new one yet.

> John D. MacDonald, Bright Orange for the Shroud
> (1965). Hey! A Gold Medal
> at last. At a library sale, for 50 cents apiece, I
> picked up half a dozen
> JDMs PBs plus a hardcover omnibus edition, A Tan and
> Sandy Silence and Two
> Other Great Mysteries (The Long Lavender Look and
> Bright Orange for the
> Shroud, as I realized when I got home). McGee goes
> after some con artists
> who have fleeced an acquaintance of his. He
> triumphs, if only partially,
> but there is a happy romantic ending, although not
> for him, the eternal loner.

ORANGE has one of my favorite McGee villians, the swamp dwelling, atavistic throwback Boo (gotta love that name) Wexwell.

> Ross Thomas, The Money Harvest (1975). One of his
> Washington novels, in
> which lawyer Ancel Easter and unorthodox
> investigator Jake Pope (I don't
> think they are series characters, but I'm not sure)
> try to figure out what
> is going to happen on a certain date. Whatever it
> is, people are being
> killed over it. The plot revolves around politics,
> greed, blackmail, and
> the commodities market. Thomas plots fantastically
> well and his writing is
> equally good.

I thought this was very fine. His PORKCHOPPERS is even better, one of the best poltical novels I've ever read.


===== Doug Bassett

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