Re: RARA-AVIS: Question about Ross MacDonald's works

Date: 13 Mar 2007

"Should I read Ross MacDonald's "Lew Archer" cases in sequence, just like Lawrence Block's "Matthew Scudder"? Do the personality of character varies as time goes on?"

There really isn't much "personality of character" in the Lew Archer books. This isn't meant as a criticism. In fact, that's one of the things I find so fascinating about this series, how Archer is kind of absent from his own books, observing and solving without revealing much of himself.

Now I'm anal about reading series in order, and I went back and did this with the Archer novels at one point. However, although he has periods, there's not much interdependence or plot development between the inidividual books. And I'd agree with Brian on the books he listed as Macdonald's best period.

Makes me think. Isn't this idea of series having a structure and plot beyond a single entry kind of new, just a few decades old? Yes, there are slight changes over time with Wade Miller's Max Thursday or Meyer may hae to get anew book at one point in the Travis McGee series, but I really can't think of older series that seem to plot in arcs. About the first I can think of is Stark's Parker series, whose first four books seem to have been plotted as one, which is kind of strange since the first was definitely written as a standalone, with the ending havng to be changed to accomodate a series.

Oh, and of course, there are the 57th Precinct novels. Was it the first to do this seriously?


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