Thursday, April 15, 2010

The way some people die

By Ross Macdonald

Macdonald pulls a doozie from somewhere creative. This is his best novel to date and it justifies some of its own blurb; "Ross Macdonald gives to the detective story that accent of class that Raymond Chandler did" - Chicago Tribune.

Generous words and almost true. The differences between Chandler and Macdonald have indeed blurred slightly and whilst I've read virtually all of Chandlers novels, Macdonald still has a lot to offer. I wonder if Macdonald can usurp Chandlers throne?

This story is quite easy to follow, even with three big plot twists which both turn the story on its head. Lew Archer is hired by a distraught mother to find her missing daughter; Galatea, only nothing is at it seems and as Archer uncovers each layer of deception, another is revealed below. The story is good, and the story telling is good also. The only real weakness is the characters, many of whom are mere sketches, on the other hand this lends the book a welcome touch of brevity. 244 pages and it was finished in two lazy days.

Master of the Moor

By Ruth Rendell

I'd only give this one two stars if it weren't for an excellent plot twist which caught me by complete surprise. I actually laughed with delight when I read it, but unfortunately the rest of the novel had rather turned me off so that several times I threw the book down in disgust at the cliche's that were being thrown at me. The thing is, I don't know if Rendell was setting me up or if the whole story was fabriacted in order to set the stage for the plot twist (I suspect it was).

Colin Firth acted in a dramatized version of this book, but I'd never heard of it before. I bought it solely on the strength of Rendells previous novels and its interesting name, but in reading this earlier work, I realised that a lot of Rendell's storys are based on the same ideas of a dangerous man and a confused main character (sometimes these are the same person). I don't know if that bothered me because it means Rendell's not as original as I might have thought, or because I just didn't like the main character in this book.

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