From: Duane Spurlock (
Date: 29 Nov 2004

"James R. Winter" <> wrote:
<< It's no secret Ross MacDonald was copping Chandler in his first five novels. It's also no secret that Ross was sometimes better at it than Chandler.
  When you look at the trendline for the literary hardboiled PI novel, everyone agrees that the starting point in Hammett, then Chandler. Some may not agree that Ross MacDonald is next, but I think James is right here -- MacDonald makes the leap to the next step, the next level.
  I think the next blip on the trendline is James Sallis. He makes the next leap, yet -- as with MacDonald -- the tradition is still visible, or at least can still be detected (if you will) through the narrative or revelation of character.
  I'm using CYPRESS GROVE as my basis for this off-the-cuff declaration. True, CG isn't technically a PI novel. But the narrator is an ex-vet, ex-cop, ex-con (that covers most of the territory that most PIs use as a background) and is called in as a "consultant" to help investigate a murder. The earliest literary PIs -- Poe's and Doyle's creations -- were considered consulting detectives, I think, so I believe CG stands firmly in the tradition of PI fiction.
  CG, like MacDonald's mature work, is a novel of revelations -- about self (the narrator), about history (again, the narrator, and others in the story), about relationships (a number of characters), about family (just about everyone in the story).
  This is just an excellent novel. Although it veers a bit from the traditional PI story, it's solidly rooted in the PI tradition. Many thanks to whoever nominated here for one of the best since 2000 -- that posting prompted me to go out and finally read this book.
- Duane Spurlock

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 29 Nov 2004 EST