Gregory Mcdonald Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Gregory Mcdonald is often called the “clown prince” of the detective genre. The world of his major character, Fletch, is a world where anything can happen and usually does. Many of these events are serious, but Mcdonald always gave them a humorous edge. Irwin Maurice Fletcher, better known as Fletch, broke new ground for the amateur detective. Mcdonald used the anarchic worldview and sarcastic humor of this character to make a wry commentary on life.

Mcdonald’s fiction evolved out of the political and social rebellion of the 1960’s. Fletch is apolitical, but he never hesitates to thumb his nose at the Establishment. He is an outsider who has little use for rules and regulations or maintaining regular hours, jobs, or traditional relationships. The events of his life occur haphazardly, as a series of bizarre situations into which he falls with regularity. Fletch never complains. He continues making his jokes or quips and deals with each situation as it happens. He is never at a loss for words or solutions. There is little emotional involvement or commitment in the Fletch series. Fletch is whimsical and fickle, though in the long run, this character cares.

Mcdonald was different from his predecessors in the genre. It is difficult to compare him to a Raymond Chandler or a Ross Macdonald, but like them, he used the realities of his time to fashion a character that was a reflection of that time. Fletch’s world is an ironic one, and he must...

(The entire section is 418 words.)


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Carr, John C. “Gregory Mcdonald.” In The Craft of Crime: Conversations with Crime Writers. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983. Contains a general introduction to Mcdonald’s life and work; the interview is filled with insights into why the author writes shorter, humorous mystery novels “post-cinematically” and focuses on many other facets of his writing and fiction in general, including Mcdonald’s assertion that the mystery is an ideal forum for social criticism and for bringing order to chaos.

Dahlin, Robert. “PW Interviews: Gregory Mcdonald.” Publishers Weekly 229, no. 25 (December 18, 1981): 14-16. Contains biographical tidbits from the author’s life and insights into his methods of work.

DeAndrea, William L. Encyclopedia Mysteriosa: A Comprehensive Guide to the Art of Detection in Print, Film, Radio, and Television. New York: Prentice Hall, 1994. Provides brief entries on Gregory Mcdonald and on his major creation, Fletch.

Henry, William A., III. “Blood, Blonds and Badinage.” Time, November 4, 1984, 83-86. Brief reviews of Fletch Won and Safekeeping; the latter novel is particularly cited for its plot—a small boy, heir to a dukedom, is orphaned during the London blitz and sent to New York to be looked after by a tabloid writer. The novels are called a blend of...

(The entire section is 423 words.)