Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Lost Archer

From somewhere in Literary Heaven, where his mind is as sharp as it was before the early attack of Alzheimer’s, Ross Macdonald must be smiling down on Tom Nolan – who has spent many years restoring Macdonald’s reputation as the best American mystery writer of all time.

Nolan’s biography, Ross Macdonald, is a masterpiece of art, compassion and dedication. He has found and collected many stories, published by Crippen & Landru, a house where lost mysteries are lovingly restored to life. And now comes this splendid collection.

The Archer Files, as Jeff Pierce at The Rap Sheet has already noted, collects for the first time all the brief Archer fiction: the stories from Macdonald’s 1955 paperback original The Name Is Archer, the additional tales included in the Otto Penzler-edited 1977 volume Lew Archer: Private Investigator, and the three then-unknown novellas presented in Crippen & Landru’s 2001 book Strangers in Town.

Also included in The Archer Files are several never-before-published fragments of unfinished Macdonald stories: “case notes” from the files of Lew Archer. As an added treat, Jeff Wong’s cover is adapted from a 1955 paperback original, but depicting Ross Macdonald rather than Lew Archer. The Archer Files is prefaced with Nolan’s biographical sketch of Lew Archer – a man as alive as his author.

Keep smiling down on Tom Nolan, Ross. He still has a few tricks up his sleeve.

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