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About McNally’s Secret pdf
Sex, lies, blackmail. Archy McNally is a freewheeling playboy who specializes in “Discreet Inquiries” for the rich and not-so-discreet. Beneath the glaring sun of Palm Beach – and behind the lowest crimes of high society – he is paid to keep family skeletons in the closet. But when it comes to sex and scandal, he has a few secrets of his own.
A nice, smooth mystery, with a touch of out-dated charm, McNally’s Secret is a good mystery.
I don’t know much about the eighties, but I get a feeling that this is the period during which the book was written.
Anyway, playboy, Archie McNally, is hired to find some ancient stamps stolen from a rich matron. Although, part of his job is to keep his business secret, nothing stays secret in Palm Beach.
Sanders’ character Archie McNally is nothing short of brilliant. He’s an affluent living, intelligent, capable underachiever – and he’s fine with that. He didn’t make it through law school to make his stuffy old law firm dad happy, but he manages to solve some tricky problems that Dad’s clients seem to get themselves into regularly. He can’t afford luxurious digs – so he lives with Mom and Dad – how else would a guy with his resources be able to live right on the water and have servants at his disposal. He has a fabulous and devoted steady girl – to whom he has made promises and he’s devoted to a mom with the early stages of dementia who comes across as a fading character from times long past – except when her assessment of her devoted but priggish husband make it clear that she is sharper than most.
His sleuthing efforts combine a mix of street smarts, savoir fair, charm and charisma and bullshit. When mixed together his skills serve to embarrass his father – but save him as well. McNally is always fun, entertaining and engaging – right down to his pastel dinner jackets.
Let’s go back about a quarter of a century to THAT Palm Beach, Florida — The one that Donald Trump was so anxious to be accepted into. Then, there was still a lot of the old money around and the need to fit in to a society that those recently rich could only aspire to. This is where McNally & Son have chosen to serve their clientele. Father McNally is head of a local law firm and the son, Archy, a Yale failure, is responsible for the firm’s discreet inquiries.
Educated at the proper Ivy League schools, the McNally family fits in as the well-to-do vassals of the Palm Beach nobility. Sanders successfully walks a very fine line between insipid details (of food, clothing, wine, cars, etc.) and outright burlesque. What we derive are laughs, knowing smiles, a intricate plot with memorable characters and (surprisingly) empathy for Archy despite the following:
He is vain; often, superficial; a social butterfly; a cad; a devotee of the pursuit of the opposite sex; and, less than truthful in many of his relationships.
Kudos to Sanders for making it work. Is he tipping his hat to the Archy Goodwin of Rex Stout? This Archy is more in line with Hammett’s Sam Spade in adopting a persona that allows him to float through many levels of society while, because of his fatuousness, not being given credit for the depth of understanding he brings to his detection.
Highly enjoyable, the trick will be for Sanders to go forward, exploring the permutations of this little world without it becoming a stale formula.
About McNally’s Secret Author
Lawrence Sanders was the New York Times bestselling author of more than forty mystery and suspense novels. The Anderson Tapes, completed when he was fifty years old, received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for best first novel. His prodigious oeuvre encompasses the Edward X. Delaney, Archy McNally, and Timothy Cone series, along with his acclaimed Commandment books. Stand-alone novels include Sullivan’s Sting and Caper. Sanders remains one of America’s most popular novelists, with more than fifty million copies of his books in print.