Best 1963 Adventures (7)
September 15, 2018
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1963 adventure novels. Happy 55th anniversary!
Ross Macdonald‘s Lew Archer crime adventure The Chill.
In Archer’s 11th outing, a distraught Alex Kincaid wants the suburban LA detective to find his new wife, Dolly, who — during their honeymoon — has taken a powder for no apparent reason. As with every Archer mystery, the myriad ways in which the past influences the present (often having to do with how a family’s wealth was acquired) require a great deal of untangling. Dolly turns up quickly, but Archer’s sleuthing uncovers two old murders and a new one, in a coastal college town; so although he’s no longer being paid, he sticks with the mystery. There are plot twists and red herrings — whodunit is impossible to guess, until the final pages. Some readers might complain about the complexity — there are many characters, each of whom has a skeleton in their closet, some of whom have false identities, and many of whom are connected to one another in some byzantine way. But Macdonald is in rare form, here; his prose is smart and fresh. This may be his best book.
Fun facts: Writing for HILOBROW, Gordon Dahlquist says: “If [Raymond] Chandler’s novels are about [Philip] Marlowe, then Macdonald’s — despite Archer’s fuller realization — are about California.”
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.