RARA-AVIS: Re: Tobias Jones on Ross Macdonald in yesterday's Guardian

From: JIM DOHERTY (jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 05 Aug 2009

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    Re your comment below:

    "I think one of the reasons Macdonald's often included in the big three
    -- was it the book MURDER INK that first suggested that trio? -- is that's Macdonald's proven so influential over the years. Scratch a P.I. novel that offers a compassionate gumshoe, a little emotional, multi-generational angst and a little poppy psychological depth, and chances are you'll find a little Macdonald influence in there."

    I think the reasons have a lot more to do with symmetry, and the comments of the most influential mystery critic of the time, than the later influence of the books. Hammett's RED HARVEST was published in 1929 by Alfred A. Knopf. Chandler's THE BIG SLEEP in 1939 by Knopf. Macdonald's THE MOVING TARGET in 1949 by Knopf. So they were linked from the beginning, long before Dylis Wynn's MURDER INK.

    Macdonald was noticed very early on, and comparisons to Hammett and Chandler always marked reviews of his books, dust jacket descriptions, introductions to short stories in magazines, etc.

    By the early '60's, Michael Avallone had already coined the "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" gag to describe a hard-boiled tiumvarite that was already well-established.

    And by the mid-60's, Anthony Boucher, who was probably the man most responsible for linking the three in the minds of most mystery readers, said this about either THE CHILL or THE FAR SIDE OF THE DOLLAR in his regular NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW column:

    "Without in the last abating my admiration for Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, I should like to venture the heretical suggestion that Ross Macdonald is a better novelist than either of them." 24 Jan 1965

    Dilys Winn was just continuing a tradition that was already long-standing.



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