ROSS MACDONALD and MARGARET MILLAR
Ross Macdonald was the pseudonym of Kenneth Millar (December 13, 1915 - July 11, 1983), California-born, Canada-raised, eventually returning to California to work hard and slowly to become a preeminent mystery/detective novelist so good, so accomplished that he is now considered a significant voice in 20th Century American literature. Although influenced by the great detective writers in the generation before him, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Macdonald forged a style of his own out of the postwar pulps. His awareness and sophisticated understanding of literary history and tropes (he had a doctorate in literature) and his interest in psychology provided a firm foundation for his use of the detective form to investigate human relationships, conflicts, and tragedies. He wrote stand-alone novels (we have three here), but his great and lasting creation was Lew Archer, a man whose perspective and voice sustains the reader through 18 novels and many short stories. Macdonald is also a keen observer of Californian (and American) culture, documenting in good style a time and place and people.
His wife, Margaret Millar (1915-1994), wrote many fine novels of psychological suspense, and I include her work here as a measure of their marriage, their partnership, and their mutual influence. Of interest also is Macdonald’s deep friendship with Eudora Welty, another master of a region and a people. A volume of their letters is included here.