The Drowning Pool by Ross McDonald – bleak bleak bleak

Apologies to all (okay, both) DT readers for the various silences of late.  No real excuses, just having fun with Mrs Towers, commemorating a birthday, laughing at a Jew(ish comedian) and being agog at an Australian batting collapse.

I should thank the bloody train company for not being able to get a driver and thus tipping everyone onto coaches.  With forty minutes in Carlisle, I had time for some over-priced food and a quid copy of “The Drowning Pool” by Ross McDonald.

I’ve devoured the damn thing!!  You should run – not walk, run – to the nearest library to get a copy.  Lew Archer is a Philip Marlowe-esque private eye, all fists, thick skull with lots of brains and a Code He Lives By. He is hired by the beautiful woman who is being blackmailed and…

And I am doing the book a disservice. It’s beautifully written, intricately plotted and the ending knocks the winds out of your sails. Makes Seven look like the Sound of Music.

Here’s a couple of bits I especially liked –

The man in the mirror was big and flat-bodied, and lean-faced. One of his gray eyes was larger than the other, and it swelled and wavered like the eye of conscience: the other eye was little, hard and shrewd. I stood still for an instant, caught by my own distorted face, and the room reversed itself like a trick drawing in a psychological test. For an instant I was the man in the mirror, the shadow-figure without a life of his own who peered with one large eye and one small eye through dirty glass at the dirty lives of people in a very dirty world.
page 92

She drew on [the cigarette] gratefully “Like your friend Knudson’s? I worked in a municipal police department for five years, and then I quit. There were too many cases where the official version clashed with the facts I knew.”
“Ralph is honest. He’s been a policeman all his life, but he still has a decent conscience.”
“Two of them, probably. Most good policemen have a public conscience, and a private conscience. I just have the private conscience; a poor thing, but my own.”
“I was right about you. You do have a passion for justice.”
page 160

Once I am done with the Martin Beck books, I know what I am doing next


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