RARA-AVIS: Black Money

From: Victoria Lavagette ( lavagette@yahoo.com)
Date: 07 Jan 2005

Half way thru the book I realized that I had read it before. I find this upsetting, that nothing registered from all those mysteries I read in the 70s. I have not read any of Macdonald since reading the Blue Hammer when it was published. I think I read nearly everything he had written and now it is pretty much a blur or just non-existent..
  Several points --
  In the early 60s the WASP community was still closed. Only a Frenchman could penetrate it and that was cause for notice if not alarm.
  Every character is miserable to some degree. All the marriages are bad and all the children are traumatized, if not yet (the professor's) they soon will be. Ginny begs Archer and the doctor not to argue across her because her parents did, and Peter says that Ginny's parents fought openly in front of him. Peter is hexed from the day he is born.
  The women are strong people tied to weak men. Martel is the only strong husband and he is an impostor, liar, and thief. Not one of the women has tossed the husband and gone out on her own. The redhead is still legally married to one weak man while taking care of an invalid who used to beat her, as did her mother. And she agreed to being given away as a gambling prize.
  Martel is a negative character while alive but becomes increasingly sympathetic as his past is revealed. He is dead by the time the reader feels like rooting for him. The tragedy is that a powerful man is brought down by inconsequence rather than the criminal element with whom he deals.
  Gambling and Las Vegas are evil. Black money (money not reported for taxes) is evil but money has nothing to do with the case although it would seem to be the reason. The true evil is family life.
  Twenty dollars will hold a hospital bed. (Not a plot point but I could not resist.)
  Ginny, about whom the entire story revolves, remains a closed and almost emotionless character. She projects much less than the redhead or the professor's wife. She remains composed even at the bloody end.
  People are so totally co-operative. Martel agrees to answer the five questions rather than throwing the people out of his house. Is paranoia a recent development wherein nobody tells nobody nothing? I realize the plot requires a constant information feed but some of those conversations really stretch believability.
  All (nearly all? some?) of Macdonald's plots are driven by one conversation/questioning after another. He runs all over town, or several towns, seeing the next person mentioned after the last one. Other than his own movement, there is very little physical action. Shootings are the exception but most of those take place off-screen.
  This is fun. Thanks gang, Victoria

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 07 Jan 2005 EST