Phoebe Wycherly was missing two months before her wealthy father hired Archer to find her. That was plenty of time for a young girl who wanted to disappear to do so thoroughly—or for someone to make her disappear. And before he could locate the Wycherly girl, Archer had to reckon with the Wycherly woman, Phoebe’s mother, an eerily unmaternal blonde who kept too many residences, had too many secrets, and left too many corpses in her wake.
©1961 Ross Macdonald; renewed 1989 by Margaret Millar (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
In the character of Lew Archer, Macdonald redefined the private eye as a roving conscience who walks the treacherous frontier between criminal guilt and human sin.
“Lew Archer [is] up to his neck in murder, kidnapping, and blackmail – just another day at the office. This is hard-boiled detective writing at the top of its form.” (Library Journal)
“It’s not just that Ross Macdonald taught us how to write; he did something much more, he taught us how to read, and how to think about life, and maybe in some small but mattering way, how to live.” (Robert B. Parker)
I really enjoyed this book. It was slow moving but in a good way. I haven't read any of his other novels but it worked well as a freestanding read. Decent character development. The narrator was pretty good but I wish he would have differentiated more between characters. Definitely not boring...subtle.
The cover suggests hard-boiled noir, but this Macdonald novel (like his others) is a series of character studies, sensitive to nuances in human relationships and pessimistic about them though never unsympathetic. (The title of another Archer novel, Find a Victim, also describes almost all of his characters' modus operandi in life.) The Wycherly Woman is a great example of a perfectly-written detective story.
Lew Archer, identical in my mind with the voice of Mr. Gardner, is a real man. He's honest, he can take a punch and hit back, he goes where the trail leads--and makes sure someone 's paying him to do it. And that's a good thing, considering that the trail twists and winds and doubles back through danger, broken lives, post-ww2 Southern California, rich and poor, good and evil and through surprising passages of remarkable poetry. Pay attention, though, Ross MacDonald always packs a doppelganger or two.
This book is not a recent book, but it's still a good one. I saw this one on someone else's list of recommendations. I'm glad that I took a chance with it. I especially enjoyed the first person narrator.
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