I am happy to have recently made the acquaintance of bon vivant Archibald McNally. I call him a bon vivant because he fits the definition to a T: a person who enjoys a sociable and luxurious lifestyle. Archy is a private investigator and head of the Department of Discreet Inquiries for his father's law firm McNally and Son.
Although Archy is in his late 30s, he continues to occupy the third floor suite of his parents' estate in Palm Beach, Florida. His father, Prescott, has adopted an Old World Persona - in dress, mannerisms, and speech. His telephone books are bound in leather and he only reads Dickens. Archy respectfully calls him 'sir'. Archy's mother spends her days tending to her collection of begonia plants.
The McNallys and other denizens of their bespoke world are the creation of author Lawrence Sanders. I don't know why I haven't discovered Archy until now as the first book in the series, McNally's Secret, was published in 1992. It has to do with the theft of valuable stamps from Lady Cynthia Horowitz, a wealthy society matron and neighbor and friend of the McNallys. Before the end, though, Archy is faced with solving a homicide.
In the second book, McNally's Luck, Archy encounters a catnapping, the murders of a poet and his wife, and is introduced to the spiritualist world.
Archy is the narrator of these breezy, witty mysteries. I like him. In some ways he reminds me of Bertie Wooster. They both are fellows of independent means, they have servants who take care of the mundane chores of life, and they both belong to private clubs (in Archy's case, the Pelican Club). Bertie's car is two-seater (most likely an Aston Martin) while Archy sports around town in a fiery red Miata.
Although Bertie can't seem to get away from women in his life - aunts included - Archy is a bit of a playboy. They both have a quirky fashion sense that is not always appreciated - Archy's father often raises an eyebrow at his son's colorful outfits, and Jeeves casts many a disapproving eye on Bertie's sartorial choices.
Archy keeps a nightly handwritten journal of his investigations and refers to his notes often. He finds himself sharing clues with his pal and police detective Al Rogoff. He enjoys good food, a tasty daiquiri now and again, and has a sunny disposition.
Archy McNally is just the fellow you want to escort you around the upscale shops and boutiques of Palm Beach's ritzy Worth Avenue. And, being the generous soul that he is, he might just surprise you with a shiny bauble or two.
I've not heard of this series before, and it sounds wonderful. Anything that can be compared with Wodehouse and Wooster is worth a read, in my opinion.ReplyDelete
Fortunately there are thirteen in the series. Lawrence Sanders wrote the first seven. After he died in 1998, Vincent Lardo continued with the series. He wrote six, the last one that I see was published in 2004.Delete
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I thought I had read all the McNally books, and I missed a bunch of them. I'm on it. Love that guy!ReplyDelete
Patsy, I don't know how your comment slipped past me but it did! I am crazy about Archy and so happy that my library carries them as ebooks. Simply download and read. Heaven. Glad you will be able to catch up.Delete
This would be entirely my taste as well. Detective and Wooster: my cup of tea!ReplyDelete
Thank you for telling us.
You are so welcome, Camille. Archy is not quite as silly as Bertie but there are quite a few similarities as I noted. I am on the third in the series now and am having great fun. Once I find a character I like, I tend to read all the books in the series one right after another!Delete
Damn, I think Amazon had some of these books on sale as e-books not too long ago. I've only ever read one Sanders book, The Eighth Commandment. Now I want to find some Archy books. I think I'd like them.ReplyDelete
You know, Joan, I think you are right about the Amazon sale. This series has just never been on my radar although I am familiar with the 'Commandment' books. And there is another series - Deadly Sins. I like the lightheartedness of Archy's tales. From what I read on Amazon (the final word, of course!) the others sound too serious.Delete