RARA-AVIS: Black Money

From: Vince Keenan ( vpkeenan@hotmail.com)
Date: 30 Jan 2005

I realize I'm coming to this party a little late. It took me a while to track down a copy of BLACK MONEY, and when I did get one I wasn't able to get to it right away. But I've read the book, and it's still January, so I'm putting my two cents in.

I liked it.

The plot took a while to develop, but I stayed with it because of MacDonald's prose and his attitude. Archer's take on the other characters and their milieu walked a fine line between amusement and contempt. (I can certainly see, though, how some readers would feel that he veered too far into the latter.) I thought MacDonald shaded Archer's reaction nicely: an initial defensive dislike of his client and the others in his circle that gradually dissipated as he came to know them.

The material on academics was the book's strongest suit. I particularly liked the sketch of Bosch, the younger professor, and MacDonald's palpable relief that a new generation with new attitudes was taking over. The women characters tended to blur together, all of them saddled with men who don't recognize or appreciate their mates' strength. As others have pointed out, Ginny never came into her own despite being at the crux of the story.

For what it's worth, it was a refreshing change of pace to read about a P.I. who has, in this novel at least, a professional relationship with the police.

I have to shamefacedly admit that this is my first experience with MacDonald aside from some short fiction in various collections. BLACK MONEY may not have been the ideal place to start, but I certainly intend to read more of his work. I'm glad the list gave me the opportunity to start filling a gap in my reading.

Vince Keenan

www.vincekeenan.com Pop culture, high and low, past and present. One day at a time.

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