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Ross Macdonald (Ross Kenneth Millar Macdonald) Biography

(1915–83), (Ross Kenneth Millar Macdonald), The Moving Target, The Drowning Pool, The Zebra-Striped Hearse

American crime writer, born in Los Gatos, California, raised in Canada, educated at the University of Western Ontario; he has held posts at the universities of Toronto and Michigan. Within a mainly California setting, MacDonald's series of mystery novels featuring private eye Lew Archer successfully reproduce the style of Raymond Chandler and the political sensibility of Dashiell Hammett. In a fluent style, MacDonald uses Archer to investigate crimes which the official agencies of law and order prefer to overlook. In the earliest of this sequence, The Moving Target (1949), Archer demonstrates that the lines between good and evil are not clearly drawn, and that almost everyone has darkness within—an explicit statement of the central principle of ‘hardboiled’ fiction. Behind the protective coating of irony, Archer remains a heroic figure, like Chandler's Philip Marlowe, engaged in a personal crusade against social evil. In the best of these novels, The Drowning Pool (1950), The Zebra-Striped Hearse (1962), and The Goodbye Look (1969), the evils uncovered are seen as social and psychological. In Find a Victim (1954) the recurrent theme of police corruption is raised, a topic which recurs in many of MacDonald's novels.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Earl Lovelace Biography to Madmen and Specialists