He wrote the Fletch and Flynn series, among others. He was damn good. It’s been awhile since I read his stuff, but I remember him as a guy who quickly mastered, then toyed with, the genre. It appeared that writing a truly strong plot, with just the right clues and red herrings, not to mention memorable characters and plenty of laughs, was child’s play for Mcdonald – which left him plenty of air between the words to address other themes.
Turns out he was born down the road from me in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Charlene Bollinger, my protagonist’s girlfriend, lives there.
Given his body of work, and in particular the enduring appeal of the Chevy Chase Fletch movie, I’m surprised I haven’t read more about Mcdonald’s passing (H/T: Sarah Weinman). I imagine the Boston Globe, where he worked many years, is prepping a big obit for tomorrow.
I always wondered how and why Mcdonald vanished so quickly (although in a way he didn’t; he wrote a bunch of novels in the 1990s that I never came across). Reading between the lines of this obituary and Mcdonald’s website, I’m going to guess he was a complex guy who wasn’t cut out to write a 65,000-word whodunnit every year for the rest of his life.
Update: As I expected, the Globe put together a fine obit.