Category Archives: Ross Macdonald

SLEEP WITH SLANDER (1960) by Dolores Hitchens

This was the second, and last, of the novels featuring private detective Jim Sader published under her ‘Dolores Hitchens’ byline by Julia Clara Catharine Dolores Birk Olsen Hitchens (1907–1973), who also wrote as D. B. Olsen, Dolan Birkley and Noel Burke. … Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Vintage Mystery Challenge Bingo, Bill Pronzini, Los Angeles, Private Eye, Ross Macdonald | Tagged | 25 Comments


Curtis Evans, he of The Passing Tramp blog and the Masters of the Humdrum Mystery book, has edited the new anthology, Mysteries Unlocked – Essays in Honor of Douglas G. Greene. It’s a celebration of the work of the founder of Crippen & … Continue reading

Posted in Agatha Christie, Edmund Crispin, Fredric Brown, John Dickson Carr, Margery Allingham, Patrick Quentin, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments

The Drowning Pool (1975) – Tuesday’s Overlooked Film

Lew Archer, Ross Macdonald’s immortal private detective, had a name change when played by Paul Newman in Harper (1966). The movie was a hit so further attempts were made to transpose the character to the screen. The 1974 TV-Movie of … Continue reading

Posted in 2013 Book to Movie Challenge, New Orleans, Ross Macdonald | 47 Comments

THE DROWNING POOL (1950) by Ross Macdonald

This is the second of eighteen books featuring Lew Archer, the California PI created by Kenneth Millar, first published under his soon to be shortened pen-name, ‘John Ross Macdonald.’ It was also the first of the series that I read, … Continue reading

Posted in 2013 Book to Movie Challenge, 2013 Vintage Mystery Challenge, California, Friday's Forgotten Book, Ross Macdonald | 47 Comments

HEAT (1985) by William Goldman

William Goldman – novelist, journalist and screenwriter – turns 82 today. Not just the author of the bestselling memoir, Adventures in the Screentrade, he won Oscars for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men and was … Continue reading

Posted in 2013 Book to Movie Challenge, Las Vegas, Private Eye, Ross Macdonald, William Goldman | Tagged , | 39 Comments

THE ZEBRA-STRIPED HEARSE (1962) by Ross Macdonald

This review is my final contribution to Kerrie’s 2012 Alphabet of Crime community meme for her Mysteries in Paradise blog, which this week reaches the letter Z. It’s been an amazing ride for six months and I am pleased as … Continue reading

Posted in 2012 Alphabet of Crime, Crime Fiction Alphabet, Los Angeles, Mexico, Private Eye, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Scene of the crime, William Goldman | 51 Comments

G is for … William Goldman

What do The Princess Bride, All the President’s Men (1976), Marathon Man, the cinema adaptations of Maverick (1994), Misery (1990) and The Stepford Wives (1975) as well as that great counter-culture Western, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, all have in common? … Continue reading

Posted in 2012 Alphabet of Crime, Crime Fiction Alphabet, Los Angeles, Private Eye, Ross Macdonald, Scene of the crime, William Goldman | 21 Comments

DEATH IS A LONELY BUSINESS (1985) by Ray Bradbury

I delayed reading this book for the best part of thirty years but finally made the leap last week. I was thirty pages in when I heard the news: Ray Bradbury had died at the age of 91. The following, … Continue reading

Posted in 2012 Alphabet of Crime, Crime Fiction Alphabet, Dashiell Hammett, Friday's Forgotten Book, Leigh Brackett, Los Angeles, Private Eye, Ray Bradbury, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Scene of the crime | 21 Comments

Twilight (1998) – Tuesday’s Forgotten Film

Originally shot under the title ‘Magic Hour’, this low-key murder mystery has probably received extra attention since the release of the Stephenie Meyer books. If so, some may have been a tad disappointed by the lack of teenage supernatural activity … Continue reading

Posted in DVD Review, Film Noir, Los Angeles, Noir on Tuesday, Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, Scene of the crime, Tuesday's Overlooked Film, TV Cops | 28 Comments

Lew Archer returns to the big screen

Ross Macdonald’s immortal private investigator Lew Archer is apparently set to make a return to cinema screens. It has been announced that Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver have bought the rights to The Galton Case, very much the turning … Continue reading

Posted in Los Angeles, Private Eye, Ross Macdonald, Scene of the crime, William Goldman | 6 Comments


Julian Barnes is an ironist, a post-modern fiction writer and literary critic who occasionally moonlights in the crime and mystery genre. The most straightforward of these excursions include his four thrillers featuring bisexual private detective Duffy, a series published under … Continue reading

Posted in Julian Barnes, Man Booker Prize, Ross Macdonald | 3 Comments

Partners in Crime

What is it about the crime and mystery genre that draws people together? More to the point, what is it about the genre that drawn authors together? One can of course look for a variety of psychologicial or sociological rationales … Continue reading

Posted in Bill Pronzini, Columbo, Ellery Queen, Margaret Millar, Patrick Quentin, Robert B. Parker, Ross Macdonald, William DeAndrea | 28 Comments

Top 101 Film & TV Mysteries

This is a minor milestones for Tipping My Fedora as the blog has now reached its 101st post. So, seeing as it is also my birthday today, what better way to celebrate than with a small indulgence in the company of … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Charlie Chan, Columbo, Dashiell Hammett, Dorothy L. Sayers, Film Noir, Giallo, Inspector Morse, Jonathan Latimer, London, Lord Peter Wimsey, Los Angeles, Nero Wolfe, New York, Oxford, Paris, Parker, Philip MacDonald, Philip Marlowe, Philo Vance, Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Richard Stark, Robert Culp, Ross Macdonald, San Francisco, Scene of the crime, Scott Turow, Sherlock Holmes, SS Van Dine, The Thin Man, TV Cops, William Goldman | 31 Comments

THE FIEND (1964) by Margaret Millar

Margaret Millar was a major writer of mystery and suspense for four decades, yet practically none of her books are in print today. Specialising in stories of abnormal or aberrant psychology, her books are notable for their acute portraits of … Continue reading

Posted in Anthony Boucher, Julian Symons, Margaret Millar, Ross Macdonald | 11 Comments

Z is for … Fred Zackel’s COCAINE AND BLUE EYES (1978)

The 2011 Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog has reached the end of the line with the letter Z – and my second and last nominations this week, comes following a communication from the … Continue reading

Posted in Private Eye, Ross Macdonald, San Francisco, Scene of the crime | 3 Comments

Top 20: Private Eye movies

“The bottom is loaded with nice people. Only cream and bastards rise” – HARPER (1966) The private investigator or, in Sherlock Holmes’ case, ‘consulting’ detective, is a figure completely embedded into the history of the crime and mystery genre, but … Continue reading

Posted in 'Best of' lists, Dashiell Hammett, Film Noir, Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, Raymond Chandler, Ross Macdonald, William Goldman | 97 Comments

Top 100 mystery books (almost)

The plan was to come up with a top 100 that I was prepared to stand by – but I wanted to re-read so many of the books that I might have included but now remembered too vaguely (such as Ngaio Marsh’s output or books like Tey’s hugely popular The Daughter of Time) that I thought I should publish only a partial list. Not to mention finding it a bit hard to just settle on one book by Georges Simenon given the enormity of his output – I have placed a list of 80+ titles on the site and am extremely open to suggestions …

So here are My (Nearly) Top 100 Mystery Books  Continue reading

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Top 10: San Francisco Mysteries

With the closure at the end of this month of The San Francisco Mystery Bookstore (as reported here) I thought I would dedicate a post this week to that fine city in Northern California where, once upon a time, I used to visit a very good friend of mine. I did a lot of growing up there in the 80s and 90s and also bought a lot of great mystery books.

I haven’t been there in over a decade now but along with its undoubtedly beautiful setting on the Bay, the vibrancy of its culture (and counter-culture) and of course the wonderful food, fascinating people and amazing architecture, the potential for squalor and seediness seemed often remarkably ever-present to me as a European tourist, requiring little more than a short step in the ‘wrong’ direction – especially before the regeneration of SOMA. This mixture of high and low culture, of beauty and darkness, have made it the perfect setting for all kinds of mysteries, from the misanthropic romance of Hitckcock’s Vertigo to the hard- and soft-boiled worlds of Hammett found in the gritty adventures of Sam Spade and upper class sleuths Nick and Nora Charles. In some ways the most valuable works here for me are those by Bill Pronzini and the late Joe Gores, who use the city and its environs as the backdrop for so much of their work. They offer a particularly fascinating and diverse look at a city and how it has changed over the decades.

Limiting this list to just 10 inevitably meant plumping for some personal favourites and some unavoidable but great, even classic, books that somehow you just can’t do without. So, for today, these are my top mystery books set in and about San Francisco, still beautiful and mysterious – just like my old friend. I present these in strict chronological order. I hope to blog on each separately, as time goes by … Continue reading

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P is for … Polygamy and Poodle Springs

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog this week reaches the letter P. My third contribution this week is …

POODLE SPRINGS (1989) by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker

Over at his estimable Classic Mystery blog the Puzzledoctor recently posted a review that combined the letter P and matrimony, which I thought was darn clever given the Royal Wedding hullabaloo over the past weekend. As a cheeky homage, let me counter (with apologies to the good doctor) with a brief overview of what might be termed a polygamous book (in many senses) …
At the time of his death in 1959 Raymond Chandler was working on a new novel featuring Philip Marlowe, the immortal private eye he created twenty years earlier in The Big Sleep. Tentatively entitled ‘The Poodle Springs Story’, Chandler’s parody of Palm Springs, it sees Marlowe married off to Linda Loring, the wealthy socialite he first met in The Long Good-bye (1953) and who proposed to him at the end of Playback (1958). Chandler left some notes and four completed chapters of his new story after wrestling with it for months, unsure if marrying off Marlowe was a good idea or not. Nearly thirty years later Robert B. Parker, the creator of Boston PI Spenser, was tasked with turning these scant 20 or so pages into a novel. Continue reading

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H is for … HAZELL PLAYS SOLOMON (1974) by PB Yuill

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog this week reaches the letter H, so I nominate …


“My name is James Hazell and I’m the biggest bastard who ever pushed your bell-button”

And so begins the first in a series of three brisk novels (and one short story) featuring the East End of London’s answer to Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and the Continental Op. It’s a great opening line, but not really that representative of the tone of the book as a whole, or of the lead character either come to that.

Hazell is 33, recently divorced, a recovering alcoholic and late of the Metropolitan Police Force (following a severe beating from a vicious gang of thieves who virtually destroyed his ankle). After hitting skid row (or the East End of London’s equivalent) he is trying to put his life back together as a private inquiry agent. Although undeniably tough (and emotionally immature) he is also far from being a total cynic – he has a lot more in common say with Ross Macdonald’ Lew Archer (featured in last week’s post) than cro-magnum PI’s like Mike Hammer and with considerably more humour than either. Continue reading

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G is for … THE GALTON CASE (1959) by Ross Macdonald

The Alphabet of Crime community meme over at the Mysteries in Paradise blog this week reaches the letter G, so I nominate …
THE GALTON CASE (1959) by Ross Macdonald
Private detective Lew Archer (known in some editions as Lew Arless, and in the cinema, as played by Paul Newman, as ‘Lew Harper’) first appeared in THE MOVING TARGET (1949) by John Macdonald, a pseudonym for Margaret Millar’s husband Kenneth (named, not insignificantly as we shall see, after his father, John Macdonald Millar). Following complaints from fellow mystery writer John D. MacDonald, the pseudonym quickly transmuted into ‘Ross Macdonald’ as the books grew in critical acclaim. Macdonald in fact was quickly heralded as the natural successor to Hammett and Chandler in the hardboiled genre, a serious author using the crime genre with literary intent and not just a purveyor of tough guy pulp fictions. The eighth Archer novel, THE GALTON CASE, was first published in 1959 and in many ways can be seen as a turning point in Millar’s career. Continue reading

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