The Mysterious Bookshop

MacDonald, Ross, Three Novels of the Early 1960s

The three novels collected in this second volume in the Library of America Ross Macdonald edition represent for many readers the summit of American crime writing. They remain thrilling for their searing psychological truth-telling, daring flights of narrative invention, and their keenly observed picture of the manners and morals of a particular time and place (Southern California in the early 1960s). Each reflects Macdonald’s enduring concern with the hidden crimes and agonizing dysfunctions that haunt families from one generation to the next. In The Zebra-Striped Hearse, a father’s attempt to protect his daughter from “the complete and utter personal disaster” of marriage to a troubled drifter sends private detective Lew Archer on a perplexing and increasingly bloody trail that leads him from Mexico to Lake Tahoe and finally into the maze of a tragically splintered identity. In The Chill, the search for a young bride gone missing uncovers a succession of seemingly unrelated crimes committed over a period of decades, as Archer finds himself “a ghost from the present haunting a bloody moment in the past.” Another hunt for a missing person—this time a young man escaped from an elite reform school—provides the impetus for The Far Side of the Dollar, which Macdonald’s friend Eudora Welty considered “securely among your strongest and best . . . a beauty that just gets better.”


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