on February 7, 2003
Just re-read Black Money... perhaps it is MacDonald at his zenith, a bit before great fame found him, but after he had fully developed his stride. Some of his later books seem too contrived. In Black Money, not all the youth are innocents corrupted by curdled California elders... the Martel character in particular is refreshingly different from MacDonald's usual suspects. That many of the middle-aged American characters end up dead (or worse) certainly rings the bell for me. Very highly recommended.
on July 5, 2001
As a mystery author with my first novel in initial release, I want to state here that Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer series ruined my life. It showed me how powerful mystery writing can be and led me to my writing aspirations in this literary field. BLACK MONEY is among my favorite Macdonald books. It's an updated version of THE GREAT GATSBY, moved to the southern California coast. Archer is hired to investigate a young man who arrives in an affluent coastal city presenting himself as an aristocratic Frenchman. He wins the heart of the most desirable maiden in town, and people are suspicious about this aristocrat's background. Archer investigates and uncovers to sorry truth about several different people. BLACK MONEY is an American crime fiction classic.
on November 16, 1997
An elegant masterpiece of crime fiction. Vivid and unsentimental, with crisp stylish prose, "Black Money" shows thepower of Ross Macdonald work, and Black Lizard should keep 'em coming. By the end of the book, I was experiencing so many emotions I didn't know what to feel.. Highly recommended
on September 24, 1997
Hammet, Chandler, McBain, Pronzini, Block and Parker are all masters of the American detective novel. The first two created the form, the last four continue to carry it out with both continued freshness and comfortable familiarity. The most perfect form, however, is the series of Lew Archer stories and novels written by the late Ross MacDonald. Like Chandler an immigant, he caught the smell and the feel of Southern California better than a native. He also crystalized the inner calmness and unwavering honor of the classic private eye, without awkwardness and sentiment. Perhaps the greatest tribute that could be given to MacDonald the writer is that he only wrote one story, but wrote it so well that each time was a new experience. This story is just that, a fresh look at the classic life and conflict in a Southern California that never existed but is real and beloved to everyone who admires and appreciates this very American form of literature.
on August 4, 1997
Ross Macdonald writes in the tradition of the American detective story as developed by Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. MacDonald is definatly inferior to these masters but still worth reading.
The language of the classic American Detective story is the language of the street, and MacDonald can write with skill. His hero/narrator, Archer, is a man who raised himself out of the slums; a classic "tough guy" with a street wise knowledge of how people act and how to handle them. MacDonald, however, is never really comfortable with this view of life. His background is that of an academic (Ph. D, taught school, studied psyciatry) and it shows in all the wrong ways. We often hear little mini-lectures on the inner workings of the characters and are occasionally treated to such literary allusions as Dante and Beatrice. These things clash badly with the "tough guy" tone of the book, and this inconsistancy is MacDonalds most serious defect.
When it comes to plotting, however, MacDonald is excellent. His plots are cleaver, complex and have the feel of truth about them - something that is often lacking in today's mysterys. When he isn't writing like a collage professor, Macdonald can write dialogue that has the dangerous and gritty feel of the underworld. And there are moments that are priceless. One of those moments is when as when the victim, who has had most of her family murdered, lies down in a pool of blood next to her dead lover/murderer, the man responsible for the murders and also the man she loved. She lays there looking at him until the police come.
While he may not have the consistancy of Hammett or Chandler, MacDonald has many of the things that make American detective fiction work, and this book is one of his best.