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Macdonald, Ross

Page history last edited by Jon 8 years, 7 months ago

Ross MacdonaldRoss Macdonald is the pseudonym of American-Canadian writer of mystery fiction and detective fiction Kenneth Millar (December 13, 1915 - July 11, 1983). Born in Los Gatos, California, in the San Francisco Bay area, in 1915, Millar was raised in his parents' native Canada, where he started college. There he met and married the former Margaret Sturm in 1938. He began his career writing stories for pulp magazines. While doing graduate study at the University of Michigan, he completed his first novel, The Dark Storm, in 1944. At this time, he wrote under the name John Macdonald, in order to avoid confusion with his wife, who was achieving her own success writing as Margaret Millar. He then changed briefly to John Ross Macdonald before settling on Ross Macdonald, in order to avoid mixups with contemporary John D. MacDonald. After serving at sea as a naval communications officer from 1944-46, he returned to Michigan, where he obtained his PhD degree in 1951.

 

Macdonald first introduced the popular detective Lew Archer, the tough but humane private eye who would inhabit some twenty of his novels, in The Moving Target in 1949. Lew Archer derives his name from Sam Spade's partner Miles Archer, and from Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. This novel would become the basis for the 1966 Paul Newman film, Harper. In the early 1950s, he returned to California, settling for some thirty years in Santa Barbara, the area where most of his books were set. (Macdonald's fictional name for Santa Barbara was Santa Teresa; this "pseudonym" for the town was subsequently resurrected by Sue Grafton, whose "alphabet novels" are also set in Santa Barbara.) The very successful Lew Archer series, including bestsellers The Goodbye Look, The Underground Man, and Sleeping Beauty, concluded with The Blue Hammer in 1976.

 

Heir to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler as the master of American "hard boiled" mysteries, his writing built on the pithy style of his predecessors by adding psychological depth and insights into the motivations of his characters. Macdonald's plots were complicated, and often turned on Archer's unearthing family secrets of his clients and of the criminals who victimized them. Even his regular readers seldom saw a Macdonald denouement coming. Macdonald's writing was hailed by genre fans and literary critics alike. Author William Golding called his works "the finest series of detective novels ever written by an American author". He died in Santa Barbara in 1983.

 

See also http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/books/2009/aug/01/ross-macdonald-crime-novels

 

Bibliography

 

Meet Me at the Morgue aka Experience With Evil (1954)

The Ferguson Affair (1960)

 

Lew Archer Novels

 

The Moving Target {aka Harper} (1949)

The Drowning Pool (1950)

The Way Some People Die (1951)

The Ivory Grin {aka Marked for Murder} (1952)

Find a Victim (1954)

The Name Is Archer (1955)

The Barbarous Coast (1956)

The Doomsters (1958)

The Galton Case (1959)

The Wycherly Woman (1961)

The Zebra Striped Hearse (1962)

The Chill (1964)

The Far Side of the Dollar (1965)

Black Money (1966)

Archer in Hollywood (1967)

The Instant Enemy (1968)

The Goodbye Look (1969)

The Underground Man (1971)

Sleeping Beauty (1973)

The Blue Hammer (1976)

 

As Kenneth Millar

 

The Dark Tunnel {aka I Die Slowly} (1944)

Trouble Follows Me {aka Night Train} (1946)

Blue City (1947)

The Three Roads (1948)

 

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