This weekend marked the 100th birthday of Ross Macdonald. Often referred to as the third father of the private eye novel, along with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, he is the lesser known of this triumvirate. There are authors that may not have read one of his books, yet borrow from him just the same.
“I love to be with him in mid-century California,” says author Ace Atkins. “He picks up when Chandler left us and continues to be the moral compass in shifting times. But beyond what we expected of a crime book, he showed us how violence, turmoil and greed can effect family. The greatest at character study.”
Of the three, he was the most prolific; Macdonald wrote over twenty novels, stretching from The Dark Tunnel, originally released in 1944 under his real name Kenneth Millar, to The Blue Hammer, Macdonald’s last novel, published in 1976. Most featured his laconic private detective, Lew Archer.
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Gillian Flynn’s psychological thrillers have made her one of the most popular writers in recent years, proving there can be a wide audience for dark subject matter and characters that don’t have to be “likable.” If you are a fan of Gone Girl and her other books, here are some other authors that share her sensibilities.
1. The End Of Everything by Megan Abbott
When a girl goes missing in an Eighties Detroit suburb, her friend tries to find out what happened and, in the process, uncovers the secrets of a community. Abbott has a brilliant understanding of how emotion informs mood and mines both brilliantly, finding a way to be both realistic and dreamlike.
2. After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman
One of the best books of 2014. When a cold case detective looks into the murder of of a young woman, he also has to look into the ten-year-old disappearance of the man who once kept her as his mistress. The plot is revealed through the pasts of the wife, daughters, and victim he left behind. Lippman uses the mystery to look at family, faith, class, and feminism on very human terms.
3. The Chill by Ross Macdonald
When it comes to family dysfunction in crime fiction, Ross Macdonald set the standard. In one of his best known titles, his PI Lew Archer’s search for a missing wife leads to sordid past histories, a few bodies, and a true look at human sin. This classic still carries one of the most disturbing reveals fifty years after it was published.
Copies of the above listed books can be found on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.