"Evokes half the names of crime fiction...that easy writing and preponderance of everyday dialogue gives us Agatha Christie...the highly ingenuous, physically tricky (plot) strictly
fair-played adds Dorothy Sayers... observation plus social comment worthy of the great Hammet."
-Times (London)

One measure of an artist's genius is the
degree to which he advances the
technique of his craft. Gregory Mcdonald's
way of telling a story, frequently depending
almost entirely upon dialogue for characterization,
drama, wit, even action at first was declared "impossible" by editors. His style has been among the most widely imitated since he first demonstrated it, although never very successfully.

The prime example of this style is not in a mystery, but in "Lovers and Pantaloons," the first work in his volume on The Seven Ages of Man, "Exits and Entrances." (See Other Works.)

Frequent Quotes from Gregory Mcdonald

"The magic I attempt is to point the finger, as concisely as possible set the scene, then pull back my hand, disappear as the author, leave the reader alone with the characters. Of course the result of this is, not typical of authors, that tens of millions more people know the names of my characters than know my name, which I don't mind a bit."

"I want the reader to hear with his eyes."

"Writing mysteries lets me get away with murder. I think 'the mystery' may be the greatest form for social criticism, simply because it is pedestrian."

The Mysteries

There are nine "Fletch" novels, three* "Flynn" novels, two** "Son of Fletch" novels, two "Skylar" novels; seventeen mystery novels in total.
*Ed.'s note: Rumor has it that there is a fourth "Flynn" novel in existence that, for some reason, Mcdonald is not releasing.
**Ed.'s note: Asked by academic critics if it is possible that from Mcdonald's Celtic heritage the "Fletch" novels could be related to the traditional "Jack Stories", Mcdonald originally entitled the "Son of Fletch" novels "Jack's Story" and "Jack and the Perfect Mirror." The publisher threatened to renege on contracts if Mcdonald did not agree to use the iconical name "Fletch" in the titles.

The Fletch Novels

(Listed in the order in which they were written. In the introduction to the three volume Fletch anthology, "The Fletch Chronicles," (Hill & Co.,1987-88) Mcdonald discusses the question of in what order the "Fletch" novels are best read, if any, plus other questions regarding "Fletch."

Fletch, 1974
Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, 1975.
Inference: Drugs would not be available, i.e., there would be no "drug problem" without the collusion of some police.
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Confess, Fletch, 1976
Comment: Edgar Allan Poe Award, 1977. (The only time a novel and its sequel won back-to-back Edgars.) In which Insp. Flynn is introduced.
Inference: The art market, maintained by the elite, is not better than it should be.
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Fletch's Fortune, 1978
Inference: Journalism may feed upon itself.
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Fletch and the Widow Bradley, 1981
Inference: Mankind's soul and physical appearance may not agree.
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Fletch's Moxie, 1982
Inference: Actors are only one with oneself while one is being someone else.
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Fletch and the Man Who, 1983
Inference: Democracy cannot work if the press exploits too deeply politicians' private lives.
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Carioca Fletch, 1984
Critique: "The best novel written about Latin America by someone not Latin American." - Robert Morales.
Comment: As close as Mcdonald has come to a ghost story.
Inference: Mankind may perceive human dimensions beyond the obvious.
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Fletch Won, 1985
Inference: Comparing a law practice with an escort service can be beneficial.
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Fletch Too, 1986
Comment: In which something of Fletch's parentage and moral system is finally revealed. Considered by some to be a great "father search" novel, school editions of this book have been published.
Inference: Despite not being able to choose one's parentage, nevertheless one must make moral choices.
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Ed.'s note: Overall inferences from the Fletch novels: Using intelligence and wit over violence is more fun. A victim do not be.

The Flynn Novels

Flynn, 1977
Comment: Many mystery purists, including many elder mystery writers, all ready upset at Mcdonald's publishing his mysteries as paperback originals ("I like to be read by people."), his inclusion of wit and sex in his novels, although grateful to him for helping revive the mystery novel in America, were enraged by "The Hand" in this novel.
Inference: Perception can beat procedure.
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The Buck Passes Flynn, 1981
Inference: The biggest thief in history is inflation.
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Flynn's In, 1984
Comment: Mcdonald has mentioned being intimated by some critics declaring this book a classic instantly upon publication.
Inference: However concealed, every society has an "old boys' network", which works in unpredictable ways.
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Flynn's World, 2003
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The Son of Fletch Novels

Son of Fletch, 1993
(preferred title: "Jack's Story")
Comment: An informed report on the fascist, neo-nazi, racist movement.
Inference: Nihilism always self-destructs.
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Fletch Reflected, 1994
(preferred title: "Jack and the Perfect Mirror")
Comment: Written during the collapse of (Communist) USSR, this has proven to be a highly prophetic novel.
Inference: When dictatorial authority collapses, mutual and self-destruction is likely among its previous subjects.
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The Skylar Novels

Skylar, 1995
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Skylar in Yankeeland, 1997
Comment: Mcdonald has reported that he designed these works simultaneously to express something of the differences in value systems and language between North and South.
Inference: Cultural differences exist geographically in the United States as they do in Europe, Asia, Africa.
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General Comment

As Mcdonald's "mysteries" are characterized by strong plots, each with a subplot, strong characters, wit, and different underlying themes, as indicated above, over the decades many booksellers have placed his books on shelves marked "Mysteries", "Humor", "Mainstream", sometimes all three simultaneously.
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