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A Freudian Thriller?

The Three Roads (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) - Ross Macdonald

Early Ross MacDonald, and a quite unusual noir.  The first third of the book seems like a totally different genre of mystery: a psychoanalysis of a man who suffered amnesia after the shocks of having his carrier sunk under him in WW2, followed by finding his wife murdered in the bedroom the day he got home to the states.  The descriptions may be California noir, but the characters--patient, girlfriend and analysts--are intellectual, brooding, deeply introspective.  The action is simply analysis: painstaking, endless talking about scraps of memory and half forgotten dreams to tease out another fragment of the past. It is well done, but it is not what any fan of Chandler would have been expecting.  Then an analyst hands the patient a news paper story about the murder of the wife he had not remembered until yesterday, and the novel explodes.


As the patient searches the streets of LA for clues, and then a murderer, the frantic physical action parallels a series of revelations that destroys what the patient, and to an extent the reader, thought they knew of his life.  It is a good mystery, and the psychoanalytic material fits in well and drives some of the plot.