What do the critics have to say?


        Peter Wolfe, in Dreamers Who Live Their Dreams, devotes more time to the early books (34 pages) than any of the other commentators, including ten pages summarizing The Dark Tunnel.  His verdict:

Tunnel gets his writing career off to a good start.  Though it sacrifices plausibility to the image of its narrator-hero, it both seizes and holds us at a high dramatic pitch.”

Bernard Schopen is less charitable:

“The story hinges on coincidences of colossal proportions, from a confused pattern of sexual imagery, and from the narrator-hero, whose character shifts according to the dictates of the action and the exegetical impulses of the author.”

Schopen’s verdict on the first four novels is, “They are not, however, very good.  Had there been no Archer novels, none of Macdonald’s first four attempts at fiction would justify critical consideration, and none is of interest other than to illustrate how far Macdonald managed to surpass his early efforts.”

Matthew Bruccoli, in Ross Macdonald, described The Dark Tunnel as “an unimpressive performance . . . . Awkwardly plotted, it utilizes crucial coincidence and a clumsy flashback.” But he does note that no less than a critic for the New York Times Book Review called it “a thrilling story told with consummate skill.”

So let’s take a look, shall we?

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