March 13, 2007

The Moving Target

Category: Literature :: Permalink

Today, I finished reading Ross MacDonald’s The Moving Target, the first of his novels starring the private detective Lew Archer.  The Archer novels are noir, and this novel clearly owes a debt to Raymond Chandler, not only in the basic set-up (e.g., the tough but intelligent and sensitive detective who gets knocked around a fair bit) but also in his use of language. 

Like Chandler, MacDonald crafts some interesting metaphors.  For instance, describing a part of California where the extremely rich live, he writes: “The light-blue haze in the lower canyon was like a thin smoke from slowly burning money” (3).  It works best if you can do a bit of a Humphrey Bogart voice-over in your mind as you read, though I suppose, considering that this book became the movie Harper, that the voice you choose to hear might be Paul Newman’s.

I liked these lines toward the end:

You can’t blame money for what it does to people.  The evil is in people, and money is the peg they hang it on (p. 242).

If you like Chandler, you might want to try MacDonald.  He’s no copycat, I gather, though I haven’t read enough of either to compare them, but they’re in the same camp.

Posted by John Barach @ 6:19 pm | Discuss (0)

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