"ONE OF THE FEW MYSTERY WRITERS ALSO REGARDED AS A MAJOR AMERICAN NOVELIST": FIRST EDITION OF BLUE CITY, THE THIRD NOVEL BY ROSS MACDONALD, PUBLISHED UNDER HIS BIRTH NAME OF KENNETH MILLAR
(MACDONALD, Ross) MILLAR, Kenneth. Blue City. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1947. Octavo, original red cloth, original dust jacket. $1200.
First edition of Ross Macdonald's elusive third novel, considered his first true hard-boiled novel in anticipating his brilliant Lew Archer series, one of only four early works issued under his birth name of Kenneth Millar and his first novel to be issued by Knopf, renowned publisher of Hammett and Chandler, in original dust jacket.
Ross Macdonald is the famed pseudonym of "one of the few mystery writers also regarded as a major American novelist" (Steinbrunner & Penzler, 262). Blue City, one of only four novels written under his birth name of Kenneth Millar, heralds the brilliance of his Lew Archer series with its tale of a WWII vet returning to a corrupt home town. Blue City was, as well, his first novel to be chosen by Knopf, the prestigious publisher of Hammett and Chandler. It both embraces and challenges their influence, evoking a subject and style resonant with "Hammett's harsh world of political corruption and Chandler's sensual decadence" (Reilly, 988-89). On publication Nelson Algren, whose Never Come Morning also inspired Blue City, praised its crisp prose, saying the writer "never uses two words where one will do; and when he wants you to see a thing, you see it" (Philadelphia Inquirer). In Macdonald's hands, the hard-boiled novel broke new ground "through an art that exercised all the technical skill and thematic subtlety associated with the best contemporary novelists" (ANB). His mysteries "changed their genre and changed the way readers saw the world" (New York Times). Basis for the 1986 film of the same name by director Michelle Manning, starring Judd Nelson and David Caruso. Ross 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 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 5-6. Reilly, 987-989. Hubin II:I, 527. Bruccoli & Layman, 243. Magill III:1134-1140.
Book fine; light edge-wear, small closed tear to spine head of colorful extremely good dust jacket.