Kenneth Millar, who wrote under the pen name Ross MacDonald, was born today (December 13) in 1915. He passed away in 1983.
MacDonald is best remembered as the creator of the Los Angeles based private investigator Lew Archer, although he also wrote stand-alone novels as well. His early work was somewhat derivative of Raymond Chandler, but he soon established his own take on the lone investigator.
MacDonald has been on my radar a long time. I read the Lew Archer novel The Galton Case when I was in graduate school. I liked it enough to pick up copies of his books when I came across them in second hand shops. Over the last few months, I’ve been dipping into The Archer Files, the collected Lew Archer short fiction.
I’m hoping to read more PI fiction next year, and MacDonald will definitely be in the rotation.
I really liked the first three volumes of Jasper Kent’s The Danilov Quintet, which I consider to be a thinking man’s vampire hunter. The last two volumes haven’t been published in the US, so I’ve not read them yet. Emphasis on “yet”. You can read my reviews here, here, and here.
With Late Whitsun, Kent turns his attention to the historical mystery. Set in Brighton in 1938, the novel concerns Charlie Woolf. He’s a sometimes private investigator who earns a meager living by making sketches for the tourists.
When he’s approached by his former partner, Alan O’Connor, and asked to act as a courier, it’s a chance to earn some easy money. All he has to do is take an envelope to London and give it to a man by a certain bench in a certain park at a certain time.
Of course it’s not that easy. The envelope contains incriminating photos. The man he meets is wearing a gas mask. And when Charlie returns home, there’s a surprise waiting for him in his apartment. Continue reading
The Prison Guard’s Son
I’d like to thank Trace Conger for sending me the review copy of The Prison Guard’s Son. I’ve been hooked on the Mr. Finn novels since I read the first one. That was The Shadow Broker, which won a Shamus Award. (Read my review here.)
While the first two books dealt with aspects of unlicensed PI Finn Harding’s family, this one takes him a bit farther afield. Set approximately one year after the events in Scar Tissue (review here), Finn is hired by a retired prison guard whose eight year old son was murdered two twelve year olds after they took him from a mall. Although tried as adults, the killers were sent to a juvenile facility and released when they turned 18. For some reason they were put in the federal witness protection program.
Now the grieving father wants Finn to find them. Not because he intends to offer forgiveness, either. Just the opposite. He wants to kill them. Continue reading
Where It Hurts
Reed Farrel Coleman
I’ve been a fan of Reed Farrel Coleman for years, ever since I read Walking the Perfect Square. So when I saw he had a new series, I didn’t hesitate to pony up the cost of a hardcover.
It was a good investment, I’m looking forward to further installments in this series. Continue reading
Before he become known as a western writer, James Reasoner wrote mysteries. A number of these were novellas that featured a PI named Markham and were published in Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine in the early 1980s. Back in the summer, before Google started messing with me and I decided to launch my own site, James began publishing them as stand-alone ebooks. I read the first one, The Man in the Moon, and enjoyed it. It was a traditional PI yarn, and I’m always up for one of those.
Reasoner published two more. I bought them, and has been typical of this past year, they sat on my ereader until recently. I read those two yesterday, and enjoyed them. Here’s what I thought. Continue reading