An old familiar friend

I was browsing on Amazon, as I often do these days, when I came across an old favorite, Ross Macdonald. I remember reading his Lew Archer novels when I was in high school. I was completely wrapped up in them for a time. They're quintessential hardboiled detective novels steeped in gritty realism.

I think the thing about Macdonald's detective stories that makes them really stand out from the crowd, and in fact stand the test of time, is Macdonald's adept handling of character. All of the characters in a Lew Archer novel are rich tapestries of motive and emotion. Macdonald had a knack for getting into the mind of the character, and entwining their hidden desires and neurosis into the plot.

I tend to take my time reading a book, but I remember how fast I sped through the Lew Archer novels. They were just so good that I couldn't put them down. Since I discovered them after the author's death, I was able to read them all back to back. At least I thought I had, but somehow I missed one called The Doomsters. I just bought in on Amazon. They have all of the Lew Archer novels available for the Kindle, along with some of his early short stories. I can hardly wait to dive back into that world.

The last of the Archer novels, The Blue Hammer, was written in 1976, so they're a little dated, but Macdonald's tight storytelling and rich characterization make them relevant today, especially for the aspiring novelist. I would encourage anyone to pick them up. As I remember, you don't necessarily have to read them in order, but Macdonald does elude to events in past novels from time to time.

If you start with one of his short stories, available for $0.99 on Amazon, keep in mind that they are some of his earliest works. They're still very good, but they lack the depth of the novels. I'd recommend starting with The Moving Target, which was adapted to the big screen as Harper in 1966 starring Paul Newman.

Go ahead, give Macdonald a try, and tell Lew I said hello.


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