on June 5, 2001
In all, I liked the book. I don't believe Vincent Lardo has the feel for Archie or Palm Beach as yet, but hopefully things will improve over time. What is missing is the precision and detail that Sanders used in describing not only the characters, but Palm Beach on the whole. With Sanders, you could see and most of all important feel the place. This is missing in Dilemma.
Archy appears to be growing up. He has enough sense to where clothes appropriate to the occasion (e.g, meeting an important and conservative client), but Prescott McNally has gone from a class act to a money grubber. Trying to be a match maker with Archie and Veronica is also out of character for him.
I don't think Lardo knows Palm Beach. One would never go to Ta-boo if one did not want to be seen, and eating in the bar area is the last place you'd go if you're looking for privacy. You have to pass through it to get to the important dining room (the one with the fireplace). The Breakers would have been a better choice. Every there is so old they can't see across the room.
I hope Lardo continues with the series. He'll get better and Archy will live on.
on August 27, 2000
Like reviewer Aimeeh, I saw this book prominently displayed inthe bookstore (sorry, Amazon, but as much as I love you, it's a great place to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.) with the familiar Lawrence Sanders byline above the title. I grabbed it with joy. Got home; settled in and, about 30 pages into it began to have a vague, "What the heck happened to Archy?" feeling. Then I noticed the small print mentioning Mr. Lardo and, I assure you, my dis was most thorougly gruntled. Shame on Penguin Putnam and Berkley Publishing Group, and something called "Lawrence Sanders Enterprises, Inc." for this petty rip off. I am sad to learn Mr. Sanders has gone to that great Pelican Club in the sky.
I persevered with the book, perhaps because Archy would have. It turns out, however, that Archy McNally isn't in this book. This Archy has lost his sparkle, his depth, his wisdom and his self-deprecating silliness. Most of the wonderful world that Sanders created for us in South Florida, on Royal Palm Way, at "the manse", and at the Pelican Club is simply gone. Lardo's world is gray and featureless, his characters without depth or charm ... or even much individuality.
The Pelican Club is reduced to an Applebees. He milked that steak-tartare-medium-rare joke to death, and since when does Mr. Pettibone engage in gossip? I missed the repartee with the beautiful Priscilla. Lolly Spindrift becomes just another dishonest reporter. Al Rogoff is rendered charmless and the tug-of-war between him and Archy is gone. The stunning Consuela had neither her usual glow, or her sharp edges. Binky is a cardboard cutout on crutches. Even the grand senior McNally has become featureless and simply boring. They are all gone. And the plot was dumb. I am 200 pages in and I'll take bets that I know who the "Mystery Woman" is. Sanders would never have allowed that.
I could wax eloquent on the demise of this great character and his friends, but, for the nonce, this will have to suffice.
I'm sad, but I must say goodbye. Goodbye, Archy. Goodbye to that wonderful world along the South Florida beach. Goodbye to the Pelican Club, and the fabulous food, and the many grand and silly and horrible characters Lawrence Sanders created for us. And goodbye Mr. Sanders. We'll miss you.
on July 26, 2000
When I bought & read "McNally's Dilemma" (the hard copy version) I didn't even know that Lawrence Sanders hadn't written the story. I snatched it up as past as I could and immediately started reading. Like Julierb, I enjoyed Archy's suave silliness and all the quirky characters in the series' previous books. To that end, I found Vincent Lardo's story much in keeping with Sanders' legacy.
It wasn't until many months after I'd finished "McNally's Dilemma" and then read about Sanders' death that I picked up the book again and noticed Lardo's name on the cover. I am not usually so unobservant so I think it illustrates the point that a hard core McNally fan simply couldn't tell the difference. Maybe if I had known it wasn't written by Lawrence Sanders I might not have enjoyed the story because I knew it wasn't Sanders and I would have felt disloyal somehow.
I think it is the mark of a brave and talented author who can pick up another's characters and turn them into his own. Vincent Lardo will allow the series to grow and evolve while being faithful to the original stories. Everyone has to change and grow - even Archy McNally.
I liked "McNally's Dilemma" so much that I have picked up the latest Sanders/Lardo collaboration "McNally's Folly: An Archy McNally Novel by Vincent Lardo" - in hard copy because I just couldn't wait to read it. I think that shows that Vincent Lardo is succeeding in keeping Archy McNally and Lawrence Sanders alive in the hearts of their fans.
Another good example of a series continued by another author after the original author's death is "Perchance to Dream" started by Raymond Chandler as the sequel to "The Big Sleep" and finished by Robert B. Parker. Chandler was about 4 chapters into it when he died. Parker picked it up after almost 40 years and seamlessly slipped his pen into the story.
on July 11, 2000
I was initially exhilarated to read that there would be a last novel forthcoming from one of my favorite authors, Lawrence Sanders, and his terrific and entertaining "Discreet Inquiries" sleuth, Archy. The book is actually authored by Vincent Lardo.
This book is a tremendous disappointment. After reading it, I would rather the Archy McNally series was left alone as Lawrence Sanders' legacy to millions of spellbound, laughing readers.
I'm sure that Vincent Lardo found the offer to continue Sanders' very lucrative McNally series more than he could resist. At the same time, though, the writing isn't anywhere near the level of Sanders'. Mr. Sanders' obvious love for the nutty characters that populate McNally novels (and his painstaking descriptions of Archy's culinary feasts and sartorial misdeeds,) isn't anywhere to be found. The endearing personality traits of our hero Archy are gone, along with the man who created them.
If you want a fantastic read, pick up any of the McNally series, but don't bother with this one.
on July 8, 2000
While the plotting of the latest edition of Archy's adventures closely matches the previous novels, I knew well before reading the jacket cover that Lawrence Sanders was not the writer. True, I should have looked at the jacket cover first; however, I would have read it anyway. I always anticipate the latest McNally book.
The Archy in this novel isn't nearly as charming or endearing as in previous ones. He often boarders on being uncivil, and, even when dealing with the lowest of skum, this isn't something Sanders' Archy would ever do. The dialogue between the various characters isn't nearly as snappy as Mr. Sanders' writing. In addition, the way the ghost writer characterizes Archy's father and household staff don't really bear much in common with Sanders' creations.
Good book, though, despite all of the above. The plotting certainly equals previous McNally books. I just miss the light touch that Lawrence Sanders brought to the extremely likable Archy McNally.
on February 29, 2000
When I began reading this book, I had no idea that it was not written by Sanders himself. As I read, I grew increasingly more disturbed--familiar characters were using unfamiliar diction, and performing uncharacteristic actions. Preston McNally had been transformed from an honorable man with a weakness for grandeur into a sleazy ambulance chaser. Archy's beloved mother was now fully in the throes of senile dementia. I was so disturbed that I turned to the publication data page to see if anything could explain how such a skilled master of such such contrasting genres as noir fiction (the incomparable Sin series) and the comic satire of the McNally series (extremely difficult to pull off, contrary to what many believe) could produce such a flatfooted failure. I found the answer: he didn't. My advice to all readers: read nothing more produced under the name of Lawrence Sanders. He is not a dress designer; knockoffs are in no way a satisfying as the real thing (not to mention that you don't get a break in price).
on January 12, 2000
today i learned that lawrence sanders died. i only found out because i was searching to see if he had written any new books. as a very big fan of his books, i am deeply saddened by his death. i'm even more saddened by the publisher's attempt to replace lawrence sanders by having a ghost writer mimic(unsuccessfully)the essense of the archie books. when i first started reading this book, i sensed it was very different from the past books. the archie character had turned from eccentric to wierd. the author's mimicry of colorful words was overdone and was annoying more than it was interesting. i think it is only best to honor lawrence sander's talent by discontinuing any future archie books written by any other authors. no one can ever capture the essense and spirit of the characters in the archie books and i think it best to leave well enough alone. in summary, the new book was predictable, boring, disappointing, and a short read- i read 50 pages and put it away.the two stars was for giving the readers a final romp with archie and the gang.
on January 8, 2000
I throughly enjoyed McNally's Dilemma, even if it wasn't written by the great Lawrence Sanders. Maybe it was the fact that I was looking forward to more of Sanders' work since I first read 'The First Deadly Sin', in high school, circa 1973. I do agree that the publisher (G.P Putnam's Sons) should have used Vincent Lardo's name on the cover as one reviewer suggested, with characters created by Lawrence Sanders or similar wording. I did not feel cheated, as I closely read all credits and acknowledgements before I start to read any book anyway. I thought Mr. Lardo captured the free-spirit of Archy beautifully. Like all of the Archy series, it was a fun read. I do hope Putnam publishes more in the series, but give the real author, Vincent Lardo, the credit. Hopefully, there is a final book of Mr. Sanders still waiting to be published! Lawrence Sanders, you will be missed! Buy McNally's Dilemma, it's worth it. Many thanks to Amazon.com, your service is outstanding! Three days after placing my order, McNally's Dilemma was at my doorstep, packaged perfectly, and in mint condition! Hollywood types: cast Ryan Stiles as Archy McNally & Danny Bonaduce as Binky Watrous!
on December 10, 1999
As a huge fan of the whole McNally series, I was saddened that Lawrence Sanders had passed away and disappointed to discover that another "ghost writer" had written this book based on Sanders' series. However, I think we as fans should be happy that at least we have some semblance of the McNally series continuing on after Sanders' death. To be honest, this new book was almost, but not quite, as entertaining as the previous McNally books. The new author has captured most of Archie's wit and personality and gives us a pretty entertaining read. It was distracting, however, to learn that Archie is suddenly engaged to Connie Garcia, yet there is no mention of a wedding or true commitment to her on Archie's part. I think the author threw the readers a real curve ball with that one, which was really quite inexcusable. But for the most part, I don't see how anyone can be anything other than happy that there will continue to be novels published about our favorite man about town, Archie McNally.
on December 1, 1999
Like other readers, I found this book lacking "something". I knew Sanders had passed away, but thought this was perhaps a final manuscript. When I finally looked onto the copyright page I realized that the family had hired another author to continue the series.
The book was good enough, but the mystery was only all right (pretty simple to figure out early on - plus some parts that were a little hard to take - like not many people ever noticing the birth of a son took place twelve months after the death of the father when the plaques mentioning the birth/death dates were right beside one another!)
The characters, however were great. I love all of Saunders' series stories and thought the Archy Mcnally books were exceptional.
This book is worth reading if you are a fan or want a good story, although I would recommend any of the others, written by Sanders, first.
I do hope that the family of Sanders does continue with these books, however I think it would be fair to fans of the series to note on the book's cover that it is actually written by another.