Read The Chill by Ross Macdonald Online


In The Chill a distraught young man hires Archer to track down his runaway bride. But no sooner has he found Dolly Kincaid than Archer finds himself entangled in two murders, one twenty years old, the other so recent that the blood is still wet. What ensues is a detective novel of nerve-racking suspense, desperately believable characters, and one of the most intricate plotIn The Chill a distraught young man hires Archer to track down his runaway bride. But no sooner has he found Dolly Kincaid than Archer finds himself entangled in two murders, one twenty years old, the other so recent that the blood is still wet. What ensues is a detective novel of nerve-racking suspense, desperately believable characters, and one of the most intricate plots ever spun by an American crime writer.From the Trade Paperback edition....

Title : The Chill
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ISBN : 11506525
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 289 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Chill Reviews

  • BillKerwin
    2019-03-21 05:56

    Young Alex Kincaid wants Lew Archer to find his wife Dolly, who left in the middle of their honeymoon weekend. It seems a gray-bearded man visited her in their hotel room, and soon after she disappeared. It doesn't take Lew long to find Dolly, but by the time he does she is tangled up in two murders and mired even more deeply in the past. This is one of Ross Macdonald's best dectective novels—perhaps the finest of all. The plot is extraordinarily complex, but never convoluted. The book is filled with lies and false identities, and, when the full truth is known and the last mask is off—a few pages before the book's end—the result is surprising and yet satisfying too.The imagery of The Chill is particularly fine. There is the usual Macdonald imagery: the dynamic past, the fragile present, the blighted future, and a superabundance of masks. But to these, The Chill adds some particularly poignant images of flight, as characters strive to soar and instead smash themselves, like birds against a plate glass window.This is a fine novel and a near-perfect piece of detective fiction. A must-read for all fans of the genre.

  • Evgeny
    2019-03-10 00:51

    A runaway bride became practically a cliché of romantic comedies:This time it is a little different: a young wife left her husband right during the first days of their honeymoon without any explanation. Before people start throwing around accusations of domestic abuse - which became another cliché lately - I need to say that no, the guy was nice to his spouse. Anyhow, the devastated guy literally stumbled upon Lew Archer who took pity of him and promised to take a look around trying to find the escapee and figure out her motivations. I can sum up everything I think about this novel in just one short word, "Wow!" This is actually exactly what I said right after I turned over the last page. The novel has practically everything I expect from a good mystery: a good mystery (sorry for a bad pun), countless plot twists that were still possible to keep track of, interesting cast of people most of whom had some skeletons in the past. The said skeletons were interconnected with those of other people's in the bizarre and unexpected ways. I was able to solve the mystery at the same time as Archer did - to be fair it happened practically on the last page. I really hate it when the identity of the culprit becomes obvious in the middle of the book with the second half of it spent on investigator running around like a headless chicken. The ability to solve the mystery with clues given is a nice bonus. All in all this is the best novel of the series so far. At this point I am sure I will finish the series even if the following books would be much weaker; I know Ross Macdonald really can deliver. The final rating is 4.5 stars.

  • Darwin8u
    2019-02-23 01:04

    “Some men spend their lives looking for ways to punish themselves for having been born.” ― Ross Macdonald, The ChillRoss Macdonald might write Chandleresque noir as good or better than Chandler. Some of the lines from 'The Chill' were so sharp they could cut a day into dark chocolate, bite-sized hours. 'The Chill' had a pretty good twist at the end. The only downside to the novel was it almost needed an overcoat with extra pockets for all the characters. By the end, I needed a small pocket book to keep all femme fatales and dead women straight. Like most Macdonald novels, the dénouement of the Chill seems to snake into your pants, squirm and bite you before you are quite ready for the book to end. That is one thing about Macdonald: he ties up ALL the snakes at the end.There is a popular trope (often attributed to Brian Eno) that the Velvet Underground's first album only sold 30,000 copies during its first five years but that “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.” I think the same thing can be said about Macdonald. He was one of those writers who probably sold less than his talent deserved, but whose influence on the modern-day detective novel is practically unsurpassed. He was a writer's writer, the professor of pulp, the high king of hard-boiled, the prophet of classic myths retold as California crime fiction. He was a god and you bet you ass every single word was a sacred creation.___________________

  • AC
    2019-03-01 06:43

    This is, to put it bluntly, Macdonald at his peak. If you want to read one Macdonald book, this is it. (The Galton Case comes in second.) There are some key similarities of theme with Zebra, which (notwithstanding the flaws I indicated in my review of that book) is excellent, and it would probably help to read Zebra before reading The Chill.It has been said that late Archer is a therapist, with a priviate detective's licence. And it is Macdonald's skill to have been able to create plausibly, and in less than 300 pages, such a web of neurotic entanglements that the normal person might find it hard to credit them..., but which I can tell you (from bitter experience) is anything but rare in this world. Sometimes such entanglements occur in families, sometimes in the workplace, or in the diplomatic relations of nations on the verge of war.... Macdonald transposed the psychology to the murder-scenario where it gains a certain plausibility and allows for a certain purity of analysis. Purity of analysis.But make no mistake, it is simply the human condition he has come to analyze in its rawest forms.

  • F.R.
    2019-03-21 05:56

    And now I understand why those more au fait than Ross McDonald than I, have been heartily recommending that I read ‘The Chill’.This is one of the best detective novels I’ve read (and I really haven’t been a slouch at picking up detective novels). ‘The Chill’ is an absolutely superb mystery tale with real depth and a tonne of atmosphere. There is no higher praise from me than to say it is worthy of Raymond Chandler.Archer is hired – almost as a spontaneous decision – by Alex Kincaid, a young man whose new wife has disappeared on their honeymoon. The wife actually turns out to be easy to find, but Archer’s digging swiftly leads to three murders – two old and one brand new – and Archer finds himself sinking deeper and deeper. This is a mystery which keeps on giving, where twist and turns and red herrings are used so skilfully and artfully. They come about as part of the character, rather than simply through the mechanics of the plot. So it isn’t like Agatha Christie, where the workings are visible and look contrived as a consequence – but a sleek sports car of a thriller which one can only marvel at. I defy anyone to guess whodunit.The fact that Archer is hired on the hoof by someone who has only just learnt of his existence ten minutes before, lends the book something of a fish out of water feel, even as our hero is operating on home turf. It gives the whole piece a disorientating quality, so that everything is that little bit more dangerous. And this is the book of MacDonald’s, of those I’ve read so far, where the fact that Archer is something of a cipher is best used. He’s like a sponge which can absorb the other character’s neurosis and psychosis, encouraging them to spill even more of their deep, dark secrets; but he’s also a mirror which can hold these secrets up to them and let them know who they really are. This is superlative crime fiction. If you like Ross MacDonald, or like Chandler – or enjoy mysteries of any hue – ‘The Chill’ is definitely recommended.

  • Joe
    2019-03-23 03:47

    "You think I'm an alcoholic or something?""I think you're a bundle of nerves. Pour alcohol on a bundle of nerves and it generally turns into a can of worms. While I'm making suggestions you might as well get rid of those chips you're wearing on both shoulders. Somebody's liable to knock them off and take a piece of you with them.""I drove downhill through deepening twilight toward the Mariner's Rest Motel, telling myself in various tones of voice that I had done the right thing. The trouble was, in the scene I had just walked out of, there was no right thing to do - only sins of commission and omission."The best reference to large breasts in all of literature: "Roy has always been attracted to women who are obviously mammals.""The Chill" may be my favorite Ross Macdonald book yet and that's really saying something. This book had everything I look for in a noir detective book:- A compelling protagonist. Lew Archer just keeps getting better and better in each outing. He is world weary but simultaneously compelled to do the right thing. There was a time during this story that he could have easily walked away and no one would have faulted him. He was no longer being paid. The mystery was "solved." But he stuck with it and got the job done.- The mystery. It literally kept me guessing until the final three pages. And there was no cheating! All the information was given to the reader as Archer himself discovered it.- The writing. As the quotes I pulled show, Macdonald could really deliver a great turn of phrase. There's something about his writing that feels alive, fresh, and real...even after all these years. These are real people with real pain that Macdonald writes about. If there's a stereotype, it's commented on, smashed apart, and then put back together.If you read one Lew Archer book, read this one. (But don't just read one. They're all amazing!)

  • Seamus Thompson
    2019-03-01 08:55

    My favorite mystery novel. Ross Macdonald writes in the noir/private eye tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett but there the resemblance ends. Chandler features a strong first-person narrator (Marlowe) and plots made up of well-crafted scenes (and many loose ends). Macdonald's narrator (Lew Archer) is a minor character who just happens to be in every scene and his plots are as clever and intricate as the best British mysteries. Where other crime writers in the gumshoe genre are obsessed with vengeance fantasies, Macdonald's interests are family dynamics, Justice (especially its fallout), and the ways in which the past haunts the living.The plot of the The Chill is so complex that trying to describe it here is nearly impossible. In brief, Archer is hired by a young newlywed to find his wife who disappeared on the night of their honeymoon. He does so in short order but finding her only raises more questions, many of which seem to be tied to a murder that occurred two decades earlier. As Archer tries to piece together the past (and the present, which has murders of its own before long) he finds himself moving through the various social strata of a coastal college town in southern California. The Chill features one of the great twist endings--one that passes the crucial test of being unexpected and inevitable. This forgotten masterpiece of detective fiction deserves a wider readership.

  • Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
    2019-02-24 06:03

    Getting the inevitable comparison out of the way, this is the second Ross MacDonald novel I've read and he does not come close to the soul Raymond Chandler poured into his novels. Not coming close to Chandler doesn't mean MacDonald is not any good, however. From what others write, The Chill is one of MacDonald's best, perhaps the best. While he does basically copy Chandler's form without being able to replicate Chandler's glorious intangibles, this is a damn good noir story in its own right. Yes, it could be criticized for not developing enough atmosphere or for letting Archer (protagonist/detective) walk from one fluid hunch to another convenient finding all too easily, but I don't agree that there is lack of characterization or insight into human behavior/society in this book. Sure, the characters play their select role in this grand plot, but even in that context, the players seem real to me. Nearly all the characters are clouded in such mystique that I was never sure what to make about any of them, and for me this very much developed a luscious tension. Yes, I would have loved to see Chandler write this story to see stronger atmosphere, shinier corpses (metaphorically), and a grand hammering of academia, but it is Ross Macdonald's story and as I sped through curiously to its hidden conclusion, I had to give him credit: my spine shivered and I felt "the chill."

  • William
    2019-03-12 02:43

    ... wow. Page after page linear story, verbose, dead dialogue and shallow characters. I'm done.Hmmm.... I was having trouble remembering "The Chill" when challenged by a friend. I see I reviewed and rated it in March, but apparently I did not finish it. It looks like I read at least 10%.*checks and reads back*Yes, the first 12% of the book is horrifically verbose and dull. Stilted clichéd dialogue, sometimes smart-alec but without being snappy, reads like a laundry list.Ponderous. Perhaps it picks up later?

  • Gabriel
    2019-03-07 06:07

    This is, as of its reading, my favorite Macdonald novel. Better by leaps and bounds than the books that came before it, although I see that The Galton Case could have been the real breakthrough-- The Chill takes Macdonald's previous novel's sophisticated use of plot and character and turns them in on themselves. The Chill is that rare "mystery" that does not violate Chandler's rule of the reader being privy to all of the information that the PI has, while still remaining a mystery to the end. That's really the secret to Macdonald's maxim: "The surprise with which a detective novel concludes should set up tragic vibrations which run backward through the entire structure." Here, Macdonald actually manages his Oedipal moment (in more ways than one), and, really, it works. The introductions Macdonald provided to Archer in Hollywood, Archer at Large (where I read this novel and The Galton Case) and Archer in Jeopardy are his version of James's New York Edition Introductions, and are well worth reading. They are also reprinted in Ceaselessly into the Past, which has a few other essays that are worth reading, too.

  • Leslie
    2019-03-16 04:52

    Excellent example of the gumshoe style of mystery. One aspect that I particularly like is the fact that the book is focused entirely on the mystery - no long passages about the detective's personal problems. I don't mean to imply that Lew Archer is one-dimensional but that he is a man who focuses on the job. This had plenty of twists and surprises but none that the author 'cheats' with - the reader learns about them when Archer does.

  • Calzean
    2019-03-07 09:00

    For a crime mystery to be written over 50 years ago and still pack a punch, it has to be good. And this one was very good. Three murders over 20 years, a cast of potential suspects (maybe too many characters), great descriptions of people, a lead character who is on every page but does not dominate the story and a series of twists right up to the last paragraph. Maybe the dialogue was a bit dull and circular at times but overall I was impressed with my first Ross Macdonald book.

  • Jessica
    2019-02-28 05:00

    Ross MacDonald is, for me, the guy you keep on dating way too long because he's got lots of qualities that you value and you're convinced you should be really into him, but no matter how hard you try, despite the odd fun night or great conversation, that certain something just isn't there.I'm not sure what the problem is. I like his California settings and, for the most part, his plots, and he does have some strong, interesting characters. While I almost like his preoccupation with the mental health system and appreciate aspects of the way he represents it, I'm impatient with the Freudian-tinged psychological mumbo jumbo that he just has a bit too much enthusiasm for detailing.The real problem though, I think, is that I find Archer bland. He's not really rough enough, or sensitive enough, or flawed or brilliant enough to hold my attention: he's sort of more of an Everyman than it turns out I want in a PI. I also am just not that impressed with MacDonald's prose. He gets off a few good lines now and then, but his writing is uneven and when he aspires to more literary heights the effort can read as a bit strained.I do love the detailed glimpse into a lost mid-twentieth-century California, though, and I did read this book in one (debilitated-by-a-bad-back) day, so it's not like I thought it was bad.I did really like The Galton Case, but this book, like the other MacDonalds I've read, just never really "did" it for me. Don't get me wrong, I liked it fine, and it did have its merits (and a pretty good ending, which is nice). But it's time I sat down with Ross and explained that he's a swell guy but we'd be better as friends.

  • Jeff Jackson
    2019-03-06 09:05

    An excellent hardboiled detective story in the vein of Chandler and Hammett and an exploration of festering secrets and compounding li(v)es. Plus it's one of the most intricately plotted mysteries I've read - plausible tension that lasts until the final paragraphs. 4.5 stars

  • Thekelburrows
    2019-02-26 06:58

    Pretty much cookie cutter but like a cool dinosaur shaped cookie cutter rather than just a plain round one.

  • Frank
    2019-02-25 02:40

    Pretty damn good! Taut, fast-paced, snappy dialogue, with wisecracks sometimes reminiscent of the 40s noirs, but still modern enough to make you mentally picture Paul Newman or Steve McQueen in the main role instead of Humphrey Bogart. The Dutch essayist Bas Heijne recently touted this as being 'better than Chandler and Hammet', and there's something to that. Chandler could be self-indulgent in his prose and messy in his plots, Hammet may have been important in the shaping of the hard-boiled detective genre but never was its greatest or most entertaining practitioner (it seems to me). This book is entertaining, incredibly fast-paced and so lean and economic in its narrative. No lush descriptions and long musings of the narrator, but many eminently quotable passages nonetheless – effective character descriptions or witty dialogue. Even a hint of poetry here and there. And some stray literary allusions to keep the professors busy, if they want to be. This is as good as pulp fiction gets, for my money. Seems to me he deserves a place in the Library of America. (More so than Goodis, who recently entered that pantheon. Which is nice, as it serves to rekindle interest in his, possibly interesting, work. But what I've read of that so far can't hold a candle to this.)By the way, the denouement (which the reader sees coming just a few pages ahead of the narrator-detective, I think – at least I did) is as gothic/victorian as they come. The work and the writing are resolutely contemporary, but the ending is pure 19th century melodrama. Very interesting.A few quotes, to give some impression of his laconic-ironic style:The architecture of her face had collapsed under the weight of her flesh and years. Still, her black eyes were alert, like unexpected animal or bird life in the ruins of a building.There were mottoes on the walls instead of pictures, and one of them brought back with a rush and a pang my grandmother's house in Martinez. It said: 'He is the Silent Listener at Every Conversation.' My grandmother had hand-embroidered the same motto and hung it in her bedroom. She always whispered.Somebody has to assume responsibility. There's a lot of it floating around loose at the moment. You can't avoid it by crawling into a hole and pulling the hole in after you.Kincaid was a frightened man who valued his status the way some previous generatiosn valued their souls.She explained about the brilliant ideas Jud was always hatching. The one I liked best was a plan for a condensed version of the Bible, with all the offensive passages removed.I walked on to the next corner, sat on a bench at a bus stop, and read in my new book about Heraclitus. All things flow like a river, he said; nothing abides. Parmenides, on the other hand, believed that nothing ever changed, it only seemed to. Both views appealed to me.

  • Lia
    2019-03-04 02:49

    Lew Archer is the PI hired to located a newly married bride who disappeared from her honeymoon suite. This leads Archer to stumble onto a professor's murder, which in turn helps him to uncover over two decades of duplicity, covert deceptions, and deflection. And what a twist! One I didn't see coming until several pages from the end.This novel was about the devastating affects of corruption and the arrogance of entitlement that swept through the lives of several innocent people whom were either utterly destroyed or corrupted by their association with the people at the heart of the mystery. In truth there's something unfailing similar between this novel and MacDonald's 'Black Money', yet different. For me, this book is the superior novel. It didn't surprise me to learn this book was published two years after 'Black Money'. However, as excellent as it was, I can't help but feel there's something essentially pat about the overall quality of Ross MacDonald's writing; it's competent with a well-drawn leading character that hooks you in... But his prose doesn't sing, it lacks a certain panache.But in spite of this imperfection, I really enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it to fans of noir fiction. It's a great follow on from Raymond Chandler - whom MacDonald was clearly influenced by.

  • Benoit Lelièvre
    2019-03-25 08:04

    Some people are going to tear out my eyeballs for giving this one such a middling score, but please hear me out before you do. The plotting of THE CHILL is absolutely superb. The mystery is convoluted, wonderfully visceral and the cast is absurdly complicated, but in the best possible way. Somebody on Amazon called it 'Hitchcockian' and I would say it's absolutely right.But......but...but...but...That dialogue, guys. It stunk. It was some of the most frustrating, cardboard dialogue stapled over one of the most brilliant mysteries I've ever read. The characters are obviously stalling Archer all the freakin' time, obnoxiously refuse to give him information without advancing the plot or creating interesting situations. I was watching an episode of Law & Order SVU last night before finishing and I was marveling about how much subtler the dialogue was than in the novel I was reading. Ross MacDonald: great mind for crime, sophisticated pen, but THAT DIALOGUE, GUYS. It needed a doctor.

  • Carla
    2019-03-06 05:52

    Lew Archer is a classic male detective; arrogant, dark, charming, and alcoholic. But there is a twist to this dick. He DOESN'T sleep with the girl! I was quite surprised, and it made me proud of this author. Unfortunately for the girl she is murdered that night, so having some law around may have helped a bit. There are a lot of characters to follow in this tale of murder and deceit, which is both confusing and fun. It's easy to follow Nancy Drew; there are only six characters in the book, one dies, and one is the murderer so the big reveal isn't very surprising. In this novel I was lost in the web of characters a few times, but I managed to place everyone just by the end so I could connect who the murderer was. I thought the whole book was really great, until the last three pages when it became fantastic! Maybe I'm a chump, but I never saw that ending coming. Bravo Mr. MacDonald, I do believe I will be reading more of your fiction.

  • Riju Ganguly
    2019-02-26 01:05

    During one of my "I gotta read all this hard-boiled stuff" phases, I had come across Ross Macdonald, or more accurately, Lew Archer. Abe books had enabled me to access a dog-eared copy of "My Name is Archer" (o-o-p at that point), and it was love at first fight, erm... first story. Then, I simply HAD TO get hold of this novel, often touted as the best of Macdonald. I got it, read it, and still feel rather chilled as I think of those last few pages as the maze suddenly unraveled, and it seemed that the Minotaur was among us all the time! Highly Recommended.

  • Tony
    2019-02-26 09:03

    THE CHILL. Ross Macdonald. ****.I read this the first time many, many years ago. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t remember much about the plot, I could remember having difficulty with the plot. This reading confirmed that the plot of this Lew Archer episode was one of the most complex he had ever written. It starts out simply enough: a young man approaches Archer with a problem – his wife has left him and disappeared. He wants Archer to find her and convince her to come back. Sounds simple. The problem does not have a simple solution. The reasons for his wife leaving him involve family history, money, greed, and mental instability. Significantly more dead bodies turn up in this novel than in most other Macdonald’s books. We find more instances of mental instability as a result of both genetics and environment. I still consider the plot as labyrinthine, but this time through I managed to keep it all straight. Once you get to the end, you will look back on this novel and realize that you have read a stellar example of the genre. Many critics of crime novels consider this Macdonald’s best work. Recommended.

  • Mike
    2019-03-10 07:01

    I don't have any pithy quotations to include in this review. I read this book expecting a really good read; I was very satisfied with the writing. This is ROSS MACDONALD we are talking about. The man has great ideas, descriptions, characters and motivations and this book has all of them.Although I have now digested several of his novels and short fiction, I continue to be surprised and impressed. I couldn't see how this story was going to tie up all the loose plot lines, but I assure you it does. I have to say that the final plot twist in "The Chill" is one of the best ever.Now, it's your turn. Enjoy!

  • Carla Remy
    2019-02-27 07:43

    Another totally satisfying Ross Macdonald book. Many think he's a weaker imitation of Chandler, and obviously he was inspired, but - unpopular as this admission might be - at times I think I like Macdonald better. He's more subtle and he always has a stellar mystery.

  • Jim
    2019-03-11 03:04

    There is something about Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer mysteries that reminds me of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels about Napoleonic War sea battles. The Aubrey/Maturin novels came to be so successful that O'Brian had to stretch the timing of the battles, which took place all around the Seven Seas, such that some of them had to take place in an alternative universe, given the time constraints.In a similar way, Macdonald's Lew Archer is so busy that the days he spends on his cases are almost impossibly eventful. In The Chill, he flies to Reno and Bridgeton, Illinois, in search of evidence. Then, when he returns to "Pacific Point," California, the story points come down fast, like popcorn furiously popping.So while I recognize the impossibility of Mr. Archer being so impossibly busy, I admire the way he navigates through seemingly insurmountable complexities in arriving at the conclusion. It's really quite a ballet.His characters lead such mixed-up lives, that what starts out as a missing bride ends up as three murder cases wrongly attributable to any number of people. Fortunately, it all seems to work out.

  • Ann
    2019-03-03 08:04

    There is something about Lew Archer's universe that always draws me in. I don't care much for his tough-guy approach to life, but the secondary characters, their lives, their environments, always interest me.In this book Lew is hired to find Dolly, a girl who disappeared on her honeymoon, apparently after receiving a visit from an older man. Lew easily traces Dolly to the home of Mrs. Bradshaw, the mother of the local college dean. The old man turns out to be Dolly's father, n ex-con who, he maintains, was unjustly convicted of having murdered his estranged wife ten years ago. During Lew's visit to the College, he is vamped by Helen, one of the professors. Her advances have an ulterior motive : she has received death threats. Lew declines to spend the night with her as a bodyguard or in any other capacity, a decision he regrets when Dolly finds Helen murdered. Then LEw finds out that Helen had been on the outs with her father, a cop, for decades, ever since their family's rich benefactor was found dead of a gunshot wound. So what is it with all these murders, one twenty years ago, one ten years ago, and one very recent? Dolly is sequestered in a nursing home by a protective physician, Dean Bradshaw pops up in the most unexpected places, another female professor at the College seems to be somehow involved. Lew has got his work cut for him. With help from a friend in Reno (in the 1950s and 60s the place for quick divorces!) Lew begins to unravel decades of secrets, subterfuge and deadly jealousy. I have to admit the mystery had me stumped until the very end, when it made perfect sense. I enjoyed the description of life in San Diego and environs in the early 60s, when the country was just on the brink of the youth revolution of the 60s. For instance, a woman meets Lew for an arranged date in a black sheath and a fox stole, pearls and earrings, 4-inch heels. Pure 50s fashion! But at the same time, a boy in a fraternity house is heard singing "This land is your land, this land is my land" - the dawn of the sixties!

  • rabbitprincess
    2019-03-07 05:55

    A superbly well-written novel. The story starts off with private detective Lew Archer being engaged by one Alex Kincaid to track down his wife, Dolly, who has disappeared after the first day of their honeymoon. Normally Archer doesn't do simple domestic cases, but this case proves to be far from simple. The threads of the case extend 20 years into the past toward events that continue to have a significant impact on the present. The case takes Archer almost halfway across the United States and back again as he tracks down the people involved in those past events and figure out what they have to lose now. It's difficult to describe the plot without worrying about giving things away, but suffice to say that it will definitely keep you guessing.I enjoyed this book very much. It's very much informed by the writing of Hammett and Chandler, but I found Macdonald's writing to flow a bit more smoothly than Chandler. Also Chandler has this tic of overloading the first quarter/third of his books with similes before finally settling down, whereas Macdonald is more creative in his descriptions. (Don't get me wrong, I like Chandler a lot too, but the simile thing really gets on my nerves for some reason.) And the plot is brilliantly twisted, always providing surprises. The pacing is just about right, too. All in all, I would recommend this one if you're starting with Macdonald. This one certainly has me hooked.

  • Sam Reaves
    2019-03-16 00:50

    Ross Macdonald wrote some terrific books, and I would count myself a fan, but I do find that the quality varies a little. Some are just not quite as acutely observed, not as fully convincing; they just don't ring as true. Sometimes his ear failed him.This one is on MWA's list of the hundred best mysteries ever, so I was prepared to be blown away; sadly I thought it was not one of Macdonald's best.A young man just married after a whirlwind romance hires Archer to find his bride, who skipped out on the first day of the honeymoon; the trail leads to a local college, where it turns out the bride was a student. The girl's faculty adviser is a comely blonde who makes a pass at Archer and then turns up dead; the Dean of the College, who still lives with his mother, is getting it on with the Dean of Women, who... Yeah, none of it really sets the pulse pounding. The plot consists of a few disparate things arbitrarily stitched together, Archer never comes up with anything better than a hunch to get to the bottom of things, and a lot of the dialogue is peculiarly stilted, culminating in this memorable line: "Good heavens, don't you believe me? I've literally exposed my entrails to you." Sounds messy. Macdonald wrote better books than this.

  • Diego Paim
    2019-03-24 02:58

    well, this was quite impactful. The whole plot of this story is one of the best in the mistery-thriller literature history, I would say. It's well developed, with a end that would make any fan amazed. But I have to say, some things bothered me as I read this and I realize Mcgee was really innocent. Well, it bothers me the way Archer defends him as if he was completely innocent (even he knowing that Mcgee abused Constance) and completely demonizes Tish, in the end, it makes look like she was the greater villain of the story, when in fact I think Roy was a lot worse than her. The female characters are painted as if they were the really bad ones and the ones that caused all trouble, and Roy and Mcgee, poor boys, were just victims. The characters are complex and well constructed, but I couldn't ignore the fact that a abuser ends this book as a completely innocent and victim while the villain is the jealous and violent wife, the hidden misoginy was so open and clear that I couldn't ignore it and it affect the way I enjoyed the book. The plot is probably the best that Ross Macdonald ever wrote and surely one of the bests in the whole genre, but I wouldn't say it was his best book. The Galton's Case has a prose excelence that this one doesn't reach.

  • Elise
    2019-03-11 04:41

    This was my second by Macdonald and surely my last. It's probably unfair to compare to Lew Archer to Philip Marlowe, but it can't be helped. Unlike Marlowe, Archer is level-headed, sober, impervious to seduction, and not compelling at all. Macdonald never lets him get into trouble or danger. There are some good wisecracks and metaphors ("Her bosom changed from a promise to a threat.") but overall the prose is conventional. The plot starts out well enough, but forward momentum is usually achieved by extremely blabbity-mouthed characters, and towards the end the improbable twists pile up at an exponential rate, making a silly mess.

  • Jon
    2019-03-15 04:01

    My second Ross Macdonald book, on the recommendation of a Goodreads friend. I thought my first one showed masterful control of a large cast, with a very complicated plot. But it was child's play compared to this one. And again, Macdonald kept it all very clear, played absolutely fair (I think), and, wow, I did not see the ending coming. I've read far too many murder mysteries, and this one, written a half-century ago, really entertained and surprised me.