Re: RARA-AVIS: McBain / John D. MacDonald and Ross MacDonald. Also a question for Jim Doherty.

From: Patrick King (
Date: 27 Jul 2010

  • Next message: Patrick King: "RE: RARA-AVIS: McBain / John D. MacDonald and Ross MacDonald. Also a question for Jim Doherty."

    This comment about Willeford sounds strange to me. He definitely did not write the same thing over and over... Of the books by JDM you mention, I think theThe Deep Blue Goodbye and Cape Fear are excellent, the others not so good, though they certainly entertaining reads.


    I'm not saying MacDonald isn't entertaining. I find most of his literary devices become tedious. His stories are pretty good but I wouldn't put him on the same high shelf as McBain who is an innovator in this genre on the level of Hammett, Chandler, Highsmith and Leonard.

    As to Willeford, I read MIAMI BLUES and loved it. So I rushed out and got THE WOMAN CHASER, HIGH PRIEST OF CALIFORNIA,HONEY GAL,and WILD WIVES. Everyone of these had basically the same plot line. Most of the protagonists were used car salesmen. They all had as their main objective in life to draw some perfectly ordinary woman into their lives and make her completely miserable. These stories are not particularly suspenseful, they're not erotic, they're not especially well-written, and to me they were very redundant. I do think Willeford is a talented writer. The way he weaves day-to-day job details into his narrative creates a very realistic quality to his work. The stories, themselves, don't appeal to me. Then I read SHARK INFESTED CUSTARD, due entirely btw to a discussion here, and found it to be totally unique. He's still writing about the same bunch of a-holes, but the way he organizes the story with the horror in the beginning and unravels it
     backward from multiple points of view is very hard to pull off and he does it masterfully. It's really a brilliant piece of writing. But after the previous five I read, I'd nearly given up on him.

    Patrick King


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