Ross Thomas is one of my all-time favourite writers. At the risk of making him sound dull and fusty, I’d say almost old-fashioned in his ability to produce silkily elegant prose – without a wasted word – that just picks you up and carries you effortlessly through the story.* Though there are always plenty of murders, enough for any crime story enthusiast, the emphasis is less on action and more on the characters: on what they say and on what they do. It’s a world of slightly crooked heroes going up against totally amoral villains, all of whom have been around the world more than once and aren’t surprised by a thing.** With Missionary Stew and The Fourth Durango, I’ve now read all Ross Thomas’ books twice. I’m already looking forward to reading them a third time.
* He put the IOU in the safety deposit box, returned the box to its proper slot, agreed with the guard that it was indeed warm for November, went back out to his car, and locked the money away in the trunk.
** “When we [Singapore police] got there, we found a body floating in the water. It was very badly decomposed. The fish had been at it, naturally. But the passport and the Maryland driver’s licence were perfectly preserved in a wallet all neatly wrapped up in an airtight plastic bag that was tucked away in a hip pocket that was buttoned. Now I ask you.”