The Zebra Striped Hearse

by Ross MacDonald


a review by Daniel Kolos


A murder mystery that uses a formula:  an individual is being set up right from the start as the likely murderer and the plot goes on to exonerate him, but not until the last minute.  Having just finished the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, I can see the formula working with a slight (very slight) twist.  In the Da Vinci Code the ‘set-up’ person, the Albino, did it, but for the wrong reason.


Here, hints are dropping left, right and center about everyone’s interconnectedness to the point where I was surprised at the end that no incest had been committed. It came close!  At one point I swore it was Colonel Blackwell with an icepick on a vacant lot, but the author was slightly more clever than that.  At the point where the detective hits the suspect over the head, not too light, not too hard, with a hammer while the suspect was armed (of course), I was hoping that the detective might actually get the Colonel’s wife as a consolation prize because he is literally drooling after her throughout the book.  But she is a suspect and the sexual tension takes its course through the female breast until I could not tell whether it was the detective’s pent up sexuality or the writer’s.  ‘Pent up,’ though, is all we get.


When the detective apprehends the real killer, there is no orgasmic release.  Perhaps that was spent in one of the pools of blood along the way – or in all of them?  While it is no masterpiece, it was a good read.


February 22, 2004