I’m such a fan of hard-boiled; can’t seem to get enough of it. This is only my second Ross Macdonald and enjoyed it as much as the first. That translates to a lot, mucho, beaucoup, πολλά, multus, הרבה, viele!
It’s the writing, I know, so clean, sparse is the word I like to use. The dialogue is on target, always, the plot is such that the reader is never sure who the bad guys are since they keep flipping, excepting Lew Archer, P.I., of course, private investigator extraordinaire.
While other P.I.’s are loaded with personal issues, Lew flies high above his or simply doesn’t find them heavy enough here to share with the reader. In this book anyway. And others may be burdened by the come hither look of beautiful women, Archer can smell trouble a mile away even in a beautiful face and body and acts (or not) accordingly.
And he’s always on the straight and narrow, never compromising his core moral values; reporting to the authorities when he sees the law is broken albeit perhaps not as quickly as the guy on the street.
The ending was fantastic, in that it was so convoluted. I was saying to myself and at times, out loud, “Wow, didn’t see that coming!”
Hope to read as many of the old masters, such as Cain (various protagonists), Hammitt (Sam Spade), Chandler (Phillip Marlowe), and this great author, Ross Macdonald. They’re the early detective books and considered hard-boiled. Fortunately for us, the readers, these writers set the bar high for contemporary authors such as Robert Crais(Elvis Cole, P.I.); Robert B. Parker (who died January 18, 2010, at his desk by the way, working on another book) and whose main character is Spenser, PI; Michael Connelly, creator of Harry Bosch, a police detective. Of course this is not a comprehensive list but those off the top of my head when thinking about the genre itself.
And the book, which was published in 1950 seems as up to date, fresh as something written this year. Good, solid writing never goes out of style.