From: Karin Montin (
Date: 06 Feb 2005

I was very interested in what Macdonald had to say about Blue City and Black Money, as I happened to read them both at about the same time. Thanks for the quotes, Rich.

In fact, I picked Blue City to read as it was the earliest Macdonald I had on hand. As it turns out, it was the first hardboiled novel he wrote.

It is quite different from the Lew Archer books. First of all, Lew Archer isn't in it. The narrator, Johnny Weather, is just out of the army. His mother has died and he has returned to his hometown to seek out his father, whom it hasn't seen in a decade. One of the first things he hears is that is father is dead, having been shot a year or so earlier. The killer was never caught. Also, his father left a very young widow.

So off he goes to find out who killed his father and why. Along the way, he uncovers corruption from the mayor's office on down through the police department, and his father was in the thick of it. His father was a good man in many ways, but there's no getting around the fact that in other ways he was very bad. For example, he was generous and helped many people. At the same time, he kept the unions out of town, thus keeping down wages and maintaining poor working conditions.

Many of the characters are a mix of good and evil, doing evil to achieve a "good" result. Yet most of the crimes are still based on self-interest.

This book employs a different level of language than The Chill or Black Money (both novels with a university backdrop). Johnny Weather meets a lot of regular people in bars and on the street. There's a lot more slang and some cruder language than in the other books. But it was published in 1947, so there's no comparison with contemporary writers--no F word, for starters.

The plot was fairly convoluted and moved right along. I thought it was a good read, if slightly old-fashioned.

My edition, a 1986 Bantam pb, shows Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy in "a major Paramount picture."


At 17:55 05/02/05, Richard Moore wrote:

>I must confess that I was unable to reread the assigned text of BLACK MONEY,
>even though I lugged it through several states in December. Then I found
>myself reading some of the Joseph Hansen's I had missed after his death.
>Although I have a paperback somewhere of BLACK MONEY, I couldn't find it so
>picked up a cheap copy of the omnibus ARCHER AT LARGE that also includes THE
>GALTON CASE and THE CHILL. It might be of interest to quote from the
>Macdonald introduction.
>"As I look over such alter books as THE CHILL and BLACK MONEY, I'm struck by
>obvious changes in my work. When I took up the hardboiled novel, beginning in
>1946 with BLUE CITY, I was writing in reaction against a number of things,
>among them my strict academic background. The world of gamblers and gunmen and
>crooked politicians and their floozies seemed realer somehow, more central to
>experience than the cool university life I knew.
>"In these later books, the academic life keeps creeping back in. Its privileged upper world, like the sub-world of professional crime, does have of course its plots and counterplots, its knifings and its bloodless assassinations, its politicians and players for high stakes, its guilty lover. And the campus, which seemed in my prewar youth to have a seductive lingering medieval unreality, has become where it is at.
>"In BLACK MONEY, the corruptions of the world invade a college campus and
>make themselves at home there. Perhaps because its binocular view includes in a
>single pattern the pits of Las Vegas and the groves of academe, some academic
>reviewers have considered BLACK MONEY anti-academic. I'm afraid on the other
>hand it betrays how persistently academic my mind has remained through
>twenty-six years of detective-story writing. In either case, as university people
>become central figures in our society, they merit unsheltered treatment in
>fiction as in life. The lords of the military-industrial-complex may be as subject
> to tragic flaws as Shakespeare's kings.
>"The reader who comes to BLACK MONEY fresh from THE GALTON CASE will notice similarities in structure, and in the central characters. The boy from Canada and the boy from Panama were intended to match and balance each other. But the world, or my vision of it, darkened in the seven years that elapsed between the two novels; and the Panamanian boy comes to a worse end."
>THE GALTON CASE was published in 1959.

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> What would our lives be like without music, dance, and theater? Donate or volunteer in the arts today at Network for Good!

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 06 Feb 2005 EST