<<Not too long ago, I ranked John D. McDonald up there
with Hammett and Chandler. In reading him again, and in
reassessing him, I find myself putting him in a separate
underclass with Ross McDonald...>>
That is my opinion, too, though John D. was more imaginative
(but far less insightful and elaborate psychologically). I
see John D. as a great storyteller. The telling can vary from
terrific (as in One Monday...) to pedestrian (as in some of
the late McGees). Bue there's invariably a good story. My
impression is that he only wrote when he thought he had a
good idea. He had brains. He also understood, as the total
pro that he was, the importance of injecting specialized
knowledge ("research") to tell a believable story.
<<What McDonald did most successfully, in my opinion
was to write in a hard-boiled style that took on an element
of poetry, while at the same time sentimentalizing his main
Indeed, his female characters are often unbelievable, close
to cardboard. At the very least, they're badly dated. Without
inviting anyone to disclose age, ¿were American girls in the
fifties *that* naive?
<<That being said, I'm going to take another look at
his potboilers, the most memorable of which is
*A Key to the Suite,*>>
This one I remember more as a divertimento than a potboiler.
Let's not get into the definitions of these two infragenres,
please, else we may find ourselves talking about Dean Martin
and Dick Contino (with good old Annie Proulx providing the
accordion thing and the dialect thing).
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