RARA-AVIS: Key to the Suite

From: Jeff Vorzimmer ( jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 07 Jul 2006

I recently picked up a bunch of JDM paperbacks at my local used bookstore for a dollar or two each. They included A Key to the Suite, A Flash of Green, The Executioners and Where is Janice Gantry?

I've already finished Key to the Suite and I thought it was good, but not great. I guess it would be classified as a crime novel, though the deaths in the novel were accidental. But it wasn't a typical Gold Medal crime novel. Yes, there was a femme fatale and lots of heavy drinking, a few punches thrown, but no real crime to speak of. I know I'm in the minority here since at least a half dozen of you expressed enthusiasm for the book. But with JDM I'm always reminded of what Capote once said of Kerouac, he doesn't write, he types. Besides Kerouac, I've read other authors who seem to sit down and start typing to see where the story takes them without seeming to have worked out the plot ahead of time. This would certainly explain how JDM could be so prolific.

It almost seems as though JDM got almost to the end of Key to the Suite and realized that he was intending to write a crime novel, but no crime had been committed. Then he creates a situation that's so hopelessly convoluted 17 pages before the end that you wonder what the hell the denouement will be.

I haven't been deterred yet from finding a great MacDonald novel, though.


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