Ross Macdonald's writing is crisp and nuanced, mixing often elegant metaphors with clear and straightforward attention to making the mechanics of a complicated plot seem inevitable. Archer is already a rueful, committed PI at this point, and his first-person narration can alternatedly sing and sear with insight and pithy observations. Adapted in the 1960's into a movie starring Paul Newman. Recommended.
|I love this cover|
The Sentry: A Joe Pike Novel (2012) by Robert Crais: Crais takes Joe Pike, sometime-second-banana to his other Southern California PI hero Elvis Cole, out for a mostly-solo spin. A random stop by Pike to check his Jeep's tire pressure leads him, chaos-theory style, into a rapidly escalating series of events centered around an imperiled LA sandwich-shop owner and his niece. Elvis Cole shows up to help Pike solve the mysteries that seem to keep erupting as the novel hurtles along, but much of The Sentry devotes itself to a third-person examination of Pike's thoughts and actions.
As Pike is pretty much a hyper-competent pulp hero, one's interest in the novel depends on how much one likes hyper-competent pulp heroes. I do, but Pike's abilities tend to pull the Cole novels out of the realms of believability when he's just a supporting character. As the lead, he might as well be Doc Savage's occasionally melancholy grandson. The plot hums and whirs like a beautifully constructed machine, and the plot twists are about as twisty as they can get without becoming self-parodic. As seems to be a trope in later novels involving Elvis Cole, at least one female police detective dies. Hmm. An enjoyable entertainment. Recommended.