Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mystery Train

#37 -- "The Girl Who Played With Fire" by Stieg Larsson

#38 -- "Nobody's Perfect" by Donald Westlake

#39 -- "The Blue Hammer" by Ross MacDonald

Not planned, but three straight books that you'd find in the mystery section at the local bookstore (and the next one probably will be, too). There was a time when this would be my regular reading pattern but it's been a while.

I was ahead of the curve on the first Larsson book, behind it on this one. I had some trouble getting into it, wondered if I would, then one night realized that I'd gone through 200 pages without thinking about it and was way past bedtime. I can't really remember how I felt about Lisbeth Salander in the first book, but in this one she's established as a really great, memorable character.

"Nobody's Perfect" -- ok, I kinda burnt out fast on my Dortmunder re-reads. This one seemed considerably weaker than the other two (still funny, just not as) and I dunno if that's a legitimate quality difference or just me reading three in a row really fast.

"Blue Hammer" -- once upon a time I considered MacDonald to be the third member of the holy trinity, with Chandler and Hammett at the other points. He's less appreciated (and was far more prolific) than the other two, but at his best it was no sin to speak of him in the same breath. This was the final Lew Archer novel, and while it's weak in some areas -- the plot really makes no sense -- it's the characterization, the desperation that makes it worth reading. In Chandler and Hammett, the crime becomes the centerpiece of the world; in "The Blue Hammer," it's just affecting a small group of sad people while the rest of the universe moves happily onwards. It's tragic and powerful.

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