Saturday, September 26, 2009

Archy McNally Series

I have a fun new discovery - new to me anyway. I'd be curious to know if anyone reading has already heard of these books, and what you think.

My dad shares my same love of series mystery, and we're both big fans of Robert B. Parker, Rex Stout, John Sandford, Sue Grafton, and others. He's been telling me about this series for AGES - how much he loved it, how funny it was, how much he liked the main character...the only thing he couldn't tell me was the name of the author, the titles of the series, or the name of the main character. He just knew he'd read these great books once upon a time.

Finally, over Labor Day weekend, he finally remembered "McNally". After that, it was pretty easy to track down, thanks to the internet.

The series turned out to be the Archy McNally series, by Lawrence Sanders (and later, Vincent Lardo)

McNally's Secret is the first book of the series, and I'll tell you, I was hooked. It's got everything I love: A great main character, fun sidekick, colorful guest characters, good mystery, interesting detective work, and a lot of little details that bring Archy to life.

Archy is a 37 year old bachelor who lives in Palm Beach, Florida. His family is reasonably wealthy, and he occupies a suite of rooms on the third floor of his parents house. He also works for his father. The elder McNally is a lawyer with a stable of insanely wealthy clients who often make unusual demands of him. Archy is the head (and sole employee) of the Department for Discreet Inquiries. He handles all those unusual requests, and generally solves problems. He also generally trips across a body or two in the process.

I'm on the third one now, and I'm still enjoying the series (I've been inspired to try several new cocktails) - but I will say, it's taught me a lesson in not belaboring those little details. I'm about done hearing that Archy's father has his telephone books bound in leather. It's in every book. It's possible that my patience for some of this will run out before the books do, but I doubt it - I'm pretty forgiving if the mystery is good.

Over all - from what I've read so far, I'd recommend this series to anyone who likes fun, slightly fluffy, but genuine mysteries.

McNally's Secret. Putnam's, 1992
McNally's Luck. Putnam's Sons, 1992
McNally's Risk. Putnam's Sons, 1993
McNally's Caper. Putnam's Sons, 1994
McNally's Trial. Putnam's Sons, 1995
McNally's Puzzle. Putnam's Sons, 1996
McNally's Gamble. Putnam's Sons, 1997
*McNally's Dilemma. Putnam's Sons, 1999
McNally's Folly. Putnam's Sons, 2000
McNally's Chance. Putnam's Sons, 2001
McNally's Alibi. Putnam's Sons, 2002
McNally's Dare. Putnam's Sone, 2003.
McNally's Bluff. Putnam's Sone, 2004.

*After the death of Lawrence Sanders in 1998, Vincent Lardo was chosen by the Sanders estate to continue the McNally series.


Obsidian Bookshelf said...

Ooooh, I like mysteries, but I'd never heard of these. This part in particular sounds like fun:

"The elder McNally is a lawyer with a stable of insanely wealthy clients who often make unusual demands of him. Archy is the head (and sole employee) of the Department for Discreet Inquiries. "

I'll have to look into these. Thanks, Elle!

Elle Parker said...

I hadn't heard of them either, and so far, I'm enjoying them a lot. I have wondered if the ongoing "inside details" might not start to wear on me, though. We'll see. I can usually forgive a lot.


Obsidian Bookshelf said...

Elle, you might like mystery writer T. Jefferson Parker who writes with a wonderful sense of place. What you did with Florida in your mystery reminded me of how he does California around Los Angeles in his books.

California Girl in particular gets across how Orange County, California was back in the 1960s when oranges actually grew there, ha, ha! Wonderful book.

Anonymous said...


just signed up and wanted to say hello while I read through the posts

hopefully this is just what im looking for looks like i have a lot to read.

Anonymous said...

I like the Lawrence Sanders Archy mysteries, however I am now reading McNally's Dilemma, the first book by Vincent Lardo and I must say it is only a shadow of Sanders' books. For example, I am on page 60 and Lardo has made five (5) movie references. Sanders NEVER did that. Other facts simply don't ring true, though Lardo does make reference to past cases.

Anonymous said...

This series is very funny. The first books by Sands himself are the best!!!!

Anonymous said...

I would recommend the McGee series by JD McDonald. However those be forwarned that there is an over the top "maleness", probably due to have been written in the 60s. But if you like mystery and adventure, they are very good, with a strong central character (Travis) and strong supporting characters.