I’ve written reviews on Goodreads for years. There are literally hundreds of them now. If you’re interested (or incredibly bored) you can check out my Goodreads page here. But from now on, I’ll be posting reviews here and there, so no one will miss out.
This comparatively early Archer novel feels almost carefree and easy-going compared to what was to follow. Given that the last Archer novel I read was ‘The Wycherly Woman’, a book I found more than somewhat dispiriting in its depiction of damaged people doing damaging things to each other, this was something of a relief. Yes, it’s an undoubtedly an Archer novel, as psychology and family intrigues play big roles here, but although there’s murder and blackmail, it knows it’s a detective story (and actually more than once references the way people behave in detective stories, in a lovely post-modernist touch) rather than a play by Chekov.
It helps that Archer here falls right into my particular sweet spot: detective stories/thrillers about old Hollywood. I’m not sure that there’s another Archer this focused on the movie business (if there is, I don’t recall reading it), but we have here studio heads, screenwriters, would be Latin lotharios of the silver screen and scheming starlets. There’s even a chase on a studio lot.
Archer is hired by the owner of an elite club to first protect him from a jealous husband, then to find the jealous husband’s missing wife. Those who’ve already read MacDonald will know the drill – there’s mistaken identity, crimes from the past being awoken in the present, and some gorgeous prose layered on top of twists and turns and murder after murder.
(The above isn’t the edition I read by the way, but I do love that cover).