I have to cheat a little bit this week. I was going to reread this book so I could write about it intelligently, but time and real life conspired against me. I mentioned it just the other day in my final Favorite Bookstores post, though, so it seemed appropriate for John D. MacDonald Week.
As I said earlier this week, I bought this book off the paperback spinner rack at Lester's Pharmacy, walked back across the highway and up the street to my parents' house, sat down on the porch, where I did a lot of my reading, and read this opening line: "We were about to give up and call it a night when somebody dropped the girl off the bridge."
How could I not keep reading after that? Years later I read an interview with MacDonald in which he said that opening was inspired by a pulp story that got right into the action with the opening line, "I dropped to one knee and fired twice" (probably a Race Williams story by Carroll John Daly). It sure worked for me, because I tore right through DARKER THAN AMBER, then went back to Lester's and bought A DEADLY SHADE OF GOLD. For a long time after that I grabbed every John D. MacDonald book I could find.
I never stole the line about somebody dropping a girl off a bridge, at least that I remember, but if you pick up a copy of LONGARM AND THE OWLHOOT'S GRAVEYARD, you'll see that the opening line is, "Longarm dropped to one knee and fired twice." I'm nothing if not shameless.
As further evidence of that, I've written an entire Forgotten Books post and said very little about the actual book. But I don't hesitate to recommend DARKER THAN AMBER. It made me a life-long John D. MacDonald fan.