The Case of the Missing Gumshoe

I’ve mentioned several times that I love reading Ross MacDonald.

His “Lew Archer” mysteries are hard to find locally – short of special orders – because Barnes & Noble rarely carries his books anymore.  That means trips to the used bookstores, and I’m fortunate in that I’ve got access to at least seven (7) within driving distance.  I hate the smell of old, used books, but I’ll tolerate that and then some in my pursuit of a MacDonald mystery that I’ve not yet read.

I have no clue when my interest in ‘hard-boiled detectives‘ began; I think that I was more of a Sherlock Holmes kind of person as a kid.  In my early 20s, however, I started reading Robert Parker, which turned me on to Raymond Chandler, and that eventually led to MacDonald (and later, to Walter Mosely).  Books led to movies, and for a short time in the 1990s, movies led me to hard-boiled computer games.  As they say, ‘that was then;’ I’ve been out of the mystery game for a good while now, but I still keep an eye out for the ever elusive Archer story.

With that as a preface, imagine my joy at finding a MacDonald mystery with which I was unfamiliar!  Scooped it up in one motion so fast it was shocking – I didn’t know that I could still move that fast.  Did a cursory look at the back to ensure that I hadn’t read it, and, once confirmed, I went to the cashier.  Biggest problem I’ve had is in not remembering the names of the volumes I read fifteen years ago.  Two of the last three MacDonald books I’ve gotten were ones that I’d read long ago.  I re-read them since I had them, of course, but I’m really seeking something new.  I could go over to Chandler, or even restart Parker, I suppose, but . . .

I’ve got my MacDonald!

I’m so thrilled that I’m about to burst.  I take my newfound trophy – take that, Barnes  & Noble! – and I walk over to a Starbucks cafe to get a cup of coffee.  This find is just too good to save for home; I’m going to start it now.  Plain black coffee with a little sweetener added – good.  I find a decent spot and with no further ado, I begin the plunge.

It’s good.  I like it.  It’s different, though, and I don’t know why.  Maybe this is a later Lew Archer mystery?  Hmmm.  I read further.  I like it more.  As I near the end of the first chapter, however, the paragraph floors me.

This isn’t a Lew Archer mystery; this is one of his other detectives. 

Saying that I was crushed is an understatement.  I turned to the back cover and, yes – as plain as day, it says that it’s one of MacDonald’s other mysteries.  Gee-whiz – how’d I miss that?

No matter.  The coffee’s good and the story’s just getting started.  Maybe I’ll look to see if he wrote more featuring this new guy.  I’m getting the feeling that this might be worth my while . . .

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