Ross Macdonald is best known for his novels starring Lew Archer, a private eye in the Philip Marlowe mould, who plies his trade amongst the idle rich in sun-drenched southern California. However, before the advent of Archer, Macdonald wrote four earlier tales of a wholly different nature, under his real name of Kenneth Millar, and this is one of them.
BLUE CITY was first published in 1947 and has been out of print for some time. Its reappearance now should cause many to reconsider the work of Ross Macdonald, for what we have here is a tough chunk of NOIR writing set in the mean streets of an unspecified mid-Western city.
The hero has returned from the war in Europe to his home town to learn that his father has been killed. His search for the murderers leads him into the dark world of sleazy night-clubs, hookers, dealers, and corrupt police and politicians. The picture of depravity the author paints could almost form a backdrop for the later work of David Goodis, and the contrast with the radiant scenery of the Archer novels couldn't be greater. With sparkling post-Chandler dialogue and strikingly descriptive brush-strokes, Macdonald has produced a fast-moving hardboiled NOIR masterpiece which by far outshines most other crime novels of the period.
The publishers deserve praise for resurrecting this forgotten classic, which is unreservedly recommended.