Thanks to everyone for the recommendations and this review. I'm particularly intrigued by Black Money, seeing how it's a reimagining of The Great gatsby, one of my favorite novels.
--- In email@example.com, Brian Thornton <bthorntonwriter@...> wrote:
> You're getting a lot of terrific intel from the other Rare Birds, so I'll
> keep my response brief. I've read them all, and I agree with Mario's
> assessment of the beginning of the series being far more indebted to
> Chandler's example than the later books. There's also quite a bit more
> direct violence (in other words, stuff that doesn't happen "on camera" if
> you catch my meaning).
> All in all I think that MacDonald really began to hit his stride during the
> late 50s (especially by the time of the publication of THE DOOMSTERS, and by
> that I mean that he really had found his own voice. This led to his hey-day
> during the 60s: THE CHILL, THE GALTON CASE, THE GOODBYE LOOK, THE WYCHERLY
> WOMAN, THE ZEBRA-STRIPED HEARSE and MacDonald's personal favorite from his
> series, BLACK MONEY (a re-imagining of THE GREAT GATSBY, one of his favorite
> works of fiction) come to mind.
> In a way I envy you just coming across this terrific series. Although I can
> read these books over and over again, I can never again discover them for
> the first time.
> I recently wrote a review of THE DOOMSTERS for Patricia Abbott's Forgotten
> Books Blog, and I've enclosed the text of that review below, in case you're
> All the Best-
> *THE DOOMSTERS by Ross MacDonald*
> So hey, I just read this terrific book by a major writer in the mystery
> canon. In it, a world-weary private investigator allows himself to get
> sucked in to the domestic problems of a rich, prominent Southern California
> family. As the story plays out, the P.I. uncovers a number of old secrets,
> all of which point toward a long-covered up crime committed by a member of
> the prestigious family's eminently respectable older generation. The
> current family crisis is a direct result of that original crime (or, if you
> prefer, "sin"), and also invariably involves a relatively blameless member
> of the family's younger generation.
> The author of course is Ross MacDonald. And the paragraph above could
> describe most of the books he wrote from the mid-fifties onward. It's been
> said of MacDonald that for the second half of his career he told one story
> over and over, but he told it so well, and varied the details enough that
> few readers cared. Titles such as THE DROWNING POOL, THE CHILL, THE
> WYCHERLY WOMAN, THE GALTON CASE, and BLACK MONEY bear this out. In fact,
> beginning with THE CHILL in 1960, MacDonald had a decade-long run of
> acclaimed books utilizing variations of the above basic plot framework.
> But what about his earlier work? MacDonald's series hero Lew Archer started
> out a hard-boiled member of the Hammett/Chandler school, but evolved into
> something completely different. Over the course of the series, Archer
> becomes a less and less obtrusive observer of the manifold ways in which
> families and their various pathologies can prey upon their children.
> THE DOOMSTERS, published in 1959 (a year before the land-mark THE CHILL)
> chronicles Archer's transition from hard-boiled, physical, wise-cracking
> P.I. to quasi-social worker, with terrific results. The vestiges of
> MacDonald's earlier penchant for action scenes are there (including Archer
> being attacked and placed in a sleeper hold in his own car by a client who
> then steals said car). So, too is MacDonald's evolving strong voice and
> trademark elegiac language: "Before the door closed, one of them broke into
> a storm of weeping. The noise of grief is impersonal, and I couldn't be
> sure which one of them it was. But I thought it must have been Mildred. Her
> loss was the worst. It had been going on for a long time, and was
> With deft characterization, a strong, if familiar plot, and the words of the
> one of the 20th century's great writers, THE DOOMSTERS is on a par with
> MacDonald's best work during the 60s. Lost in the roar of critical acclaim
> that MacDonald received as a result of the publication of THE CHILL a year
> later, THE DOOMSTERS has been unfairly forgotten. This year marks the
> fiftieth anniversary of its publication, and it' well worth a read.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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