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Ross MacDonald

Ross MacDonald Books

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Ross MacDonald (Dec. 13, 1915 - July 11, 1983), was the pseudonym of writer Kenneth Millar, married to fellow author Margaret Millar. His Lew Archer series, which includes The Moving Target (made into the movie Harper starring Paul Newman), The Barbarous Coast, The Drowning Pool and The Far Side of a Dollar, stands as one of the pivotal achievements of modern crime fiction.

Macdonald explores the mean streets of California much as Chandler did before him. The pervasive sense of disillusionment, clear-eyed realism, and uncommonly fine prose have made Macdonald a regular on both best-seller and college reading lists.

Please discuss his work below.

Previous MessagesEarliest MessagesOutlineRecent Messages (10 previous messages)
Jackie C. - 06:44pm Feb 8, 2001 PST(#11 of 19)

Bob, I was influenced by your enthusiasm for Ross MacDonald's work, and visited the local used bookstore, and came away with six titles!

I began with The Drowning Pool - and couldn't put it down. Somehow, I don't imagine Lew Archer looking like Paul Newman in my head. He's an enigma, and I look forward to learning more about this cool detective.

Bob Banks - 03:58pm Feb 20, 2001 PST(#12 of 19)

Thanks Jackie. I guess this discussion has pretty much died out. Like me, the others who posted here seem to have forgotten about the page. Or perhaps they've lost interest in the topic.

Jackie C. - 04:22pm Feb 20, 2001 PST(#13 of 19)

It's typical...I join a dead discussion! Oh well, I'm enjoying the discovery of this author. I bought all the titles available at the used book store I frequent - they're a terrific buy at $2.00 per book. The owner asked me, "Do you like MacDonald? I can get more titles from my other store in Hamilton." I told him I'd buy what he had, and last weekend I picked up "Trouble Follows Me", "The Instant Enemy" "The Far Side of the Dollar" and "The Underground Man"

My library is growing, eh?

Bob Schneider - 10:13am Jul 19, 2001 PST(#14 of 19)

Just want to mention that Crippen & Landru has published "Strangers in Town", a collection of RM short stories some of which were never previously published for a variety of reasons. The editor is Tom Nolan. He is a Macdonald biographer so he provides a great introduction to the book.

Jackie C - 07:09pm Sep 2, 2001 PST(#15 of 19)

Thanks Bob for the tip - I've checked this title and it's available through

The reviews for this collection of "lost stories" got good reviews and I am looking forward to reading it!

Fran Hinkel - 04:41am Oct 4, 2001 PST(#16 of 19)
You can check out anytime you like...but you can never leave!

This title is also available through our sponsor, Barnes and Noble. Clicking on our sponsors helps us to stay here for your enjoyment. Please, whenever possible, order your books through our site by putting your title in the search box in the ad for Barnes & Noble. Much Thanks!

Rick Cornfeld - 12:12pm Jun 7, 2003 PST(#17 of 19)

Donald Westlake was once asked what he thought about Ross Macdonald and said something like, "He must use a lot of carbon paper" or "He must have excellent carbon paper." (It is an unfair comment, I know.) Can anyone provide an exact reference to where he said it? Thanks!

Fran Hinkel - 05:30am Jul 19, 2003 PST(#18 of 19)
You can check out anytime you like...but you can never leave!

I found this by Richard Moore and maybe it is the occasion that you refer to:

Donald Westlake gave a talk sponsored by the Smithsonian in Washington in which he said the acclaim for Macdonald was part of a conspiracy by the literary establishment. This talk Westlake later turned into an article for The Armchair Detective which kicked up a fair amount of dust in that he also said the PI novel was basically dead. Westlake's remarks still seemed to me touched by more than a little hyperbole although I agreed with his statement that Macdonald afterwards rewrote the same novel over and over again no matter what anyone said. "Talk about hard-boiled!" Westlake joked.

Chris Hansen - 06:18pm Oct 18, 2009 PST(#19 of 19)

Hello Fran & all: My memory is a bit fuzzy these days. I seem to remember that in the late 70s or early 80s, there was an NBC series starring Brian Keith, of "Family Affair" fame. Earlier that same year NBC ran a 2-hr pilot movie with Peter Graves as Archer. I tried the series, but thought Keith was miscast in the role. Can anyone help with more specific dates? I'd love to continue this discussion, and look forward to hearing from you. Best always, Chris.

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