The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald

The Underground Man (Lew Archer #16)The Underground Man by Ross Macdonald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Macdonald writes with an earthy Chandler-like style. His main character Lew Archer is a tough but decent private eye in Los Angeles. The book is written in the first person. It’s my first MacDonald novel. I enjoyed the writing style, despite some quirks. He never met a simile he doesn’t like and has no compunction about creating more, sensible or not. There’s a lot of dialog, so in that sense it’s an easy read, but there are many characters who have, or in the past, had, relationships both open and hidden. This makes it hard to follow. There are multiple murders but Lew Archer is on the job. The detective work is rather simple but also pretty realistic, speaking as an ex-FBI agent. That makes it more enjoyable for me. It reminds me of the Sue Grafton alphabet series in that respect. In fact, it also reminds me of that same series because it takes place largely in Santa Teresa, the fictional city representing Santa Barbara that Grafton also uses. The ending was a bit too neat and tidy for my taste, but I enjoyed how the author worked in the investigation of Archer with the local murders and the ongoing wildfire that served as a backdrop. It was unrealistic the way everybody seemed to tell Archer whatever he wanted to know, whether officials revealing official info, or involved persons who repeatedly told him to get lost and clammed up, only to start blabbing again and answering all his questions. If only it were that easy.

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