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

From: Kevin Burton Smith (
Date: 14 Mar 2007

On Mar 13, 2007, at 10:31 AM, JIM DOHERTY wrote:

> I'd say read 'em in order, but if you can't do that
> conveniently, you won't be losing the thread of the
> character in the same way you would if you read the
> Scudders out of order. Start with the short story
> collection THE NAME IS ARCHER (aka LEW ARCHER -

But save THE BLUE HAMMER for last.

Even though it wasn't intended as the last novel, there's a certain sense of closure to it, a certain feeling of sad, dark rightness about it being the final published chapter of Archer's life.

Macdonald actually left a slew of drafts and rough notes for the actual final novel according to Macdonald biographer Tom Nolan (are you here, Tom?). Supposedly it finally confronts one of the pivotal events in the author's life (it concerns his troubled daughter, arguably the basis for many of the damaged children in the books), with Archer standing in for Macdonald. Nolan, in an interview at January also speculated that in it, Archer's Canadian roots would be revealed, and that part of the story might take place in Winnipeg.

Rumours of this final Archer somehow being made public , in some form, keep circulating. I'd love to read it.

But read 'em all. To paraphrase William Goldman, they are, without doubt, "the finest series of detective novels ever written by a Canadian/American."

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site Holiday Issue. With fiction from Bludis, Swierczynski, Rogers, Koweski, Siverling and Zackel Plus the 2006 Cheap Thrill Awards (last chance!)

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