Re: RARA-AVIS: Black Money

From: Karin Montin (
Date: 04 Jan 2005

Before reading Black Money for the first time recently, I reread The Chill less than a year after the first (or possibly second) time. I recognized The Chill after a few pages, but although I remembered the main surprise, I didn't remember who dunnit.

I was looking out for Chandleresque similes and in The Chill I didn't notice many. In Black Money, there are quite a few similes, but not as colourful or funny as Chandler's. In fact, there isn't much humour in either of the books. A while ago I was saying here that I really prefer some humour, black or otherwise, with my crime/mystery fiction, but I always think of Ross M as an author that I like, and only just realized how serious he is.

I agree with Bill that the test questions are ridiculous, as the man who writes them knows the answers and is not himself French, so obviously others could, as well.

The characters are well drawn, as tz said, although, in retrospect, I think the author cheats by not portraying one of the characters as quite as amoral as he or she turns out to be.

I noticed the words "moral" and "morally" coming up a lot. People say they are "morally certain" when they could just be "quite sure." I think this is a way of reinforcing the theme of morality running through. One thing that bothered me was a reference to a young woman having corrupted an older man, meaning she'd seduced him. The book was published in 1965, a time usually associated with the sexual revolution. But in this story, conventions count for a lot.

I can't say that I noticed the contempt miker speaks of. At first Archer doesn't really take his prospective client too seriously and is dismissive. But this soon changes and he comes to admire him for certain of his qualities. Archer comes across to me as a very solid character who knows what he's doing. He goes to the right people, they talk to him, and he figures things out.

Noir or hb? You decide. Archer's not a tragic figure, but the endings are always very downbeat. Families are devastated. Archer's tough. The language of most characters is in a fairly high spoken register, rather than colloquial. I think one of them says ain't when he starts to feel the strain.

I'll be interested to see what others have to say about this book.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 04 Jan 2005 EST