Patrick O'Neil's Reviews > The Zebra-Striped Hearse

The Zebra-Striped Hearse by Ross Macdonald
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Jun 22, 10

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Read from June 15 to 21, 2010

When I was still in grad school I attended a class about Ross MacDonald taught by a fellow student as his senior lecture. I thought I knew who MacDonald was, but it turned out I was confusing him with another detective mystery writer named John D. MacDonald - a writer I had read as a teenager, but didn't remember being that impressed with. My friend's lecture had an almost lyrical quality to it - poetically rhapsodizing MacDonald's talents as if accompanied by a Chet Baker sound track. It perked my interest, and a few years later I asked him to recommend one of MacDonald's books - he said read The Zebra-Striped Hearse. I have to admit I had expectations. I'm not sure if they were met. I think MacDonald can write. He builds characters, he sets scenes, his dialogue flows. I just had a problem with too much plot - I know that's hardly a complaint, but it is when I am wondering which character is who, and what place is where, and why we, the reader, are being told to follow along. I got the feeling he was trying too hard. And no, I don't want a plot that is so damn obvious I could follow it in my sleep. I just don't want to have to flip back looking through the previous chapters trying to remember who the hell this character was and why I should give a damn. Plus there were a few too many coincidences, like characters who weren't supposed to know each other living across the street from one another. And murderers getting away because a family member took the fall, or other suspects were dummying up to take the blame - but they're actions don't really explain their reasons for doing so. I still don't know why the book is titled after a hearse that has nothing to do with anything really, and the ending was particularly confusing and unsatisfying - but then again, MacDonald wrote many books, and I intend to read more. I am not condemning him as a writer from one read.
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message 1: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda oligney it is an accomplishment to write a book in first place...maybe this was one earlier writings ..a writer tends to get better as he writes and learns could be too much wine while the creative flow going of mystery maybe in "thy rabbit hole" all in the artist...good follow TY for posting

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