"THE BEST NOVEL IN THE HARD-BOILED TRADITION… SINCE FAREWELL, MY LOVELY… AND POSSIBLY SINCE THE MALTESE FALCON": FIRST EDITION OF MACDONALD'S THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE, SIGNED BY HIM WITH HIS EARLY PSEUDONYM OF JOHN ROSS MACDONALD
(MILLAR, Kenneth) (MACDONALD, Ross) MACDONALD, John Ross. The Way Some People Die. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951. Octavo, original blue and white paper-covered boards, original dust jacket. $3500.
First edition of the third Lew Archer novel in Ross Macdonald's award-winning series, published under his pseudonym of John Ross Macdonald, signed on the title page by him using his pseudonym, with this early work esteemed as "a genre classic" and praised on publication as a "subtle hard-boiled gem" (Saturday Review).
In The Way Some People Die, Macdonald's third Lew Archer novel, his detective criss-crosses Southern California from Santa Monica to San Diego and back to Hollywood. "Like a hard-boiled Balzac, Archer travels high and low… The Way Some People Die was one of his greatest tours, a dark Technicolor travelogue filled with striking scenes… To many crime-fiction critics and writers, Some People became the book to match or beat… a genre classic." Anthony Boucher, president of Mystery Writers of America, immediately praised Macdonald's "striking prose style, reminiscent of Chandler and yet suggesting the poetic evocation of Kenneth Fearing… 'This new Macdonald,' he wrote, was 'the best novel in the tough tradition that I've read since Farewell, My Lovely… and possibly since The Maltese Falcon.'" The novel's sense of mythological allusions also put into play Macdonald's "theory of a democratic literature that could be liked on different levels by all sorts of readers" (Nolan, Ross Macdonald, 122-4). On publication the Saturday Review praised Some People as a "subtle hard-boiled gem" and the San Francisco Chronicle concluded, "The tough ones don't come any better than this." Macdonald's first four novels appeared under his birth name of Kenneth Millar. Moving Target, his first Lew Archer book, appeared under the pseudonym of John Macdonald, his father's first two names. The next six novels (including Some People) were issued under the name of John Ross Macdonald to separate his works from those of John D. MacDonald. Millar settled on the pseudonym of Ross Macdonald with publication of The Barbarous Coast (1956). "First Edition" stated on copyright page. Bruccoli, Checklist, 15-16. Reilly, 987-89. Hubin II:I,527. Magill III:1134-1140.
Book fine; light edge-wear with small closed tears, small bit of early tape reinforcement to verso of near-fine dust jacket. A desirable signed copy of an important hard-boiled classic.