Monday, September 13, 2010

"It was a triangle, but not an equilateral one." More wit and wisdom from Lew Archer

Just finished The Moving Target, the first novel in the series by Ross Macdonald. Allow me to share:

The light-blue haze in the lower canyon was like a thin some from slowly burning money.
He gave her a hurt look. She was looking at Taggert, Taggert was looking nowhere in particular. It was a triangle, but not an equilateral one.
Seasons of sun and personal abuse had given him an angry red face and an air of great calm.
The operator was a frozen virgin who dreamed about men at night and hated them in the daytime.
"What's so hard in your coat pocket?" Miranda said distinctly.

"I'm wearing a gun."
"I like the sun."

"Do you really? I didn't think you'd go in for simple things like sun. You're the neon type, aren't you?

"If you say so."
Once or twice on a curve Miranda leaned against me, trembling. I didn't ask her whether she was cold or afraid. I didn't want to force her to make a choice.
A little man leaned toward me, peering into the fog with intent dead eyes. I caught him before he fell out. I'd been feeling death in my bones for twenty-four hours.
Betty Fraley looked at me blankly when I went back to the car. Meaning returned to her eyes like a snake coming out of its hole.

Bonus: Quite by lucky chance, I was finishing The Moving Target just as Lance Mannion was writing about quintessential 70s movie-making cliches. The connection is that his review includes Harper and The Drowning Pool, the two Paul Newman films made from the Lew Archer series. (Harper was, in fact, the film version of The Moving Target. I haven't gotten around to looking up why they changed the character's name from Archer to Harper. Macdonald said he named his character after Miles Archer -- who certainly didn't need the name by then anyway, since he was dead by the start of Chapter 2 of The Maltese Falcon.*)

*Oops. Spoiler alert.

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