Anonymous asked: Your opinion on Ross MacDonald? What are his best novels/short story collections?
I wish I knew more about Ross Macdonald (who also published as John Macdonald and John Ross Macdonald—not to be confused with fellow hardboiled scribe John D. MacDonald) than I do. He was once regarded as the third member of the hardboiled trinity—Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler being the other two.
Harper is a fine movie based on Macdonald’s first Lew Archer novel, The Moving Target. I’ve also read The Underground Man and liked it. I need to watch The Drowning Pool (sequel to Harper) still.
Macdonald is currently underappreciated, or so his admirers insist. His literary reputation is certainly not what it was. Macdonald (who had a PhD in literature) was attempting to bolster hardboiled crime fiction’s literary value. Macdonald (born Kenneth Millar and husband of novelist Margaret Millar) has a very strong Freudian undercurrent running through his novels.
I find that Macdonald’s writing (and I include Harper in this general category) has a very different, more intellectual tone that Hammett or Chandler. This is not to say it is better or worse. I have not read as much Macdonald as I would like to—or as much as I intend to. But I find he doesn’t have quite the hardboiled edge that Chandler does. But then again, who else is really comparable to Chandler? Still, I think Ross Macdonald might better be qualified as one of the leading lesser lights than as the natural successor to Hammett and Chandler.