RARA-AVIS: THE DARK TUNNEL, by Ross MacDonald 1944

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 12 Dec 2002

Dick Lochte wrote:
... As you correctly note, Macdonald wasn't going to write about Buenos Aires (though one of his pre-Archer spy novels may have headed in that direction).
********** I read Ross's THE DARK TUNNEL a few weeks ago. Is that considered one of his spy novels? The main protagonist is a college professor, and he discovers a Nazi spy operation tapping information out of the college military board's files.

I was a bit disappointed with this book. It wasn't really bad, but it was my introduction to Ross MacDonald and seeing as how he is one of the "big three," I expected better.

I have a hard time putting my finger on exactly what I thought it was missing. I guess, for one thing, I didn't find the main protagonist compelling. The characters were not bad, but the book was definitely plot-dominated. I know I'm being vague here, but when I compare this book to JDM's DEEP BLUE GOODBYE and DRESS HER IN INDIGO, I find JDM to be smooth, colorful, and entertaining, whereas THE DARK TUNNEL seems awkward, contrived, and technical. My "contrived and technical" label probably comes from his use of the old "locked room" crime made popular by Poe in his
"Murders in the Rue Morgue" story. The solution of this type of mystery usually proves tedious for me.

I'm hoping I like the Archer books better.


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