Re: RARA-AVIS: Zebra-Striped Hearse

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 11 Feb 2004

Hi Miker and Andrew-

> Andrew wrote:
> Anyway, I'd also like to say that though I've only
> read The Zebra Striped-Hearse and a Lew Archer short
> fiction collection, Ross McDonald is special to me,
> because he was the first hard-boiled writer I ever
> read.
> ***********
> I finished THE ZEBRA-STRIPED HEARSE about a month ago.
> I'm glad I gave him another go after the mediocre
> DARK TUNNEL. Ross looks to be coming from the
> Chandler camp, both in plot and the word play. The
> plot involves the wayward crazy daughter of a rich guy
> (Chandler's BIG SLEEP and LONG GOODBYE). I have heard
> that Ross wrote one book over and over, and with only
> two under my belt I can already see the pattern
> developing. I'll cherry pick a couple more and then
> move on.
> One difference from Chandler, in the little that I've
> read, was the center of turbulence. Chandler's work
> has got a spotlight on Marlowe, whereas Macdonald's
> emphasis is on the wounded family, with a more subtle
> involvement from Lew. Macdonald's work is less
> self-conscious.

Interestingly enough, THE ZEBRA-STRIPED HEARSE was my first exposure to MacDonald's work as well. Since then I've read everything of his I can get my hands on. The ones I've enjoyed the most were: THE CHILL, BLACK MONEY, THE WYCHERLY WOMAN, THE DROWNING POOL, THE FAR SIDE OF THE DOLLAR, and I even enjoyed one that others have expressed reservations about: THE BLUE HAMMER. THE GALTON CASE and THE GOODBYE LOOK are probably tied for the two I've enjoyed the most. As has been said here repeatedly, MacDonald DID write one book over and over, but I think if it more as a sort of symphonic grouping of variations on a theme. Of course if I didn't like his way of doing it, I probably wouldn't be so charitable.;)

All the Best-


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