this is the 151st in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The Doomsters by Ross Macdonald, 1958
Not too long ago, for a single-author Friday Forgotten Book post, I read Macdonald’s The Zebra-Striped Hearse, which I liked quite a lot. Lately I was in the mood for another Lew Archer novel, so I read this one.
Like most of Ross Macdonald’s mysteries, The Doomsters presents a dysfunctional family with plenty of secrets. Lew Archer has to explore the past in order to solve a murder in the present. That’s fine, and I’ve come to expect it from Macdonald. It makes for interesting plots and intriguing insights into the characters and the crime solving in the books.
On his blog a few months back George Kelley said about this book:
“Ross Macdonald sprinkles in some Oedipus references, but long-time readers of the Archer series know all about troubled father-son relationships. Along with The Chill, The Galton Case, and Black Money, The Doomsters is one of the best books in the series.”
I’m afraid I have to disagree. I’ve read about half of the Lew Archer books, and agree that the other books George names in his review are very good, but I found a lot to dislike in The Doomsters. Without a doubt, this is the most depressing Archer novel I’ve read. In addition, there are lots of loose ends left unaddressed, motives for actions by some of the characters are highly questionable, some very convenient coincidences.
I like Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer series a lot. I’m probably going against the tide here, but for me, this is a low point in it.