Black Money was one of the first books I read after the 2016 election. At the time, I was still making my way through the Lew Archer series. Like many people horrified at the election’s results, my mind was in a fog and I came to Black Money simply because it was the next book up. Although my brief Goodreads review says I liked it and thought it one of the best in the Archer series, I retain little memory of it given the time in which it was read. Since I’m going to make a big commitment in the ’19 to cleaning out my library of books I haven’t read, I wanted to make this my last re-read of 2018.
And I’m glad I did. Even by Macdonald’s high standards, Black Money is excellent and it may be the best in the series after The Chill. It is the perfect distillation of Macdonald’s talents: an empathetic Archer getting involved in shady family dealings with folks ruined by dreams deferred and unconsummated desire. Here, the dealings are especially sad. I felt a deep sadness for all characters involved, even if they were doing the most venal thing possible at every turn.
The mystery is interesting but I eventually learned to stop caring about it because I was so invested in what was happening with the characters. Macdonald is probably the reason why I care more for the “whydunnit” opposed to the “whodunnit.” He is a world class writer and this book is yet another example of why I believe the Archer series is the greatest detective series in American fiction.