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5.0 out of 5 starsA great murder mystery
Reviewed in the United States on March 22, 2019
Yes, written back when, not a "thriller" or "suspense" novel. It's a MURDER MYSTERY in the classic style. Lots of plot twists, great characters, great settings of the California coast and of Mexico. Reading now I thought - oh if they just had a cell phone or computer, this would be lot easier, but a lot would be lost also. If you've never read Ross McDonald, be aware that Lew Archer, the private detective, is not a "tough guy." He keeps following the clues and as in this story, is almost fooled. Very good to the very end.
A later Lew Archer novel but still packs a mean punch. In this novel, MacDonald is looking for the cause of murder. The zebra-striped hearse is always in the background but it's an itch that can't be scratched. MacDonald goes in a different direction. It reads more like a commentary at the times. It is set in and published in the early 1960s. MacDonald does a great job of adding the surfing culture which was just starting to become mainstream. Archer, a WWII vet, pokes fun about the hairdos and doesn't exactly care for the happy-go lucky attitude of "kids today." Archer must overturn several rocks along with dealing with stoner surfer kids to get to the bottom of the murder. It's a fun, fast paced ride, much like riding a wave in sunny California. Archer soon learns that sometimes things aren't always what they seem.
5.0 out of 5 starsLew Archer is a Fantastic Private Detective!
Reviewed in the United States on October 16, 2015
Ross McDonald, the pen name of Kenneth Millar, is a fantastic detective novel writer. His protagonist, Lew Archer, is the classic private investigator based near Hollywood. His beat is California and his novels are based in the late 40's thru the 50's and into the early '60's. I decided to start with his first Archer novel and read the series in the sequence of publication. McDonaldd develops great mysteries with highly fleshed out characters. I've just finished the Zebra Stripped Hearse and am, as I've been doing, side-tracking to another author and genre between the Archer novels. Great fun!
Reviewed in the United States on February 14, 2018
I'm a fan of John Sandford's and his Prey series, all 15 or 20 of them. Ross Macdonald reminds me of Sandford, or, the other way around, chronologically speaking. Good plot, well developed, intriguing, a bit complicated, excellent character development. The twisting of things at the end was a nice touch.
Features gumshoe Lew Archer who has never quite received the film/TV treatment that that this series merits. The author changed his characterisation of Archer around 1959 and this is second phase with our hero a more reflective listener and astute observer. Some features of the genre dont change and the story begins with the stereotypical, beguiling, female client appearing in Archer's office.
As Archer tours his homeland of southern California, he comes across early Sixties, surfer counter-culture; hence the arresting title. Yet there is nothing peace and love about the story which is quite a brave theme for the author to tackle. Several attempts and I still struggle to empathise with Archer. This contrasts with the views of the entire USA police force who seem to answer his every whim and those of every female character over the age of forty.
Archer as moral beacon is tiresome and a bit of pruning would not have gone amiss.
5.0 out of 5 starsAnother contribution to a sustained body of literary art
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 2, 2008
While this book stands on its own as a thoroughly good read, Macdonald's Lew Archer mysteries are each best appreciated as part of a comprehensive body of work. Archer represents the generation shaped by the Great Depression and subsequent war, and this background informs his perspective on the post war generation blessed (or cursed) by an ever rising tide of material cornucopia. Here the emerging generation gap is central to a tale of indulged children and perplexed yet sceptical parents.
4.0 out of 5 starsRecht komplizierte Geschichte ...
Reviewed in Germany on August 23, 2018
Es kommt etwas von den sechziger Jahren rüber, aber die Geschichte ist so kompliziert und verwoben und verworren, dass es anstrengend war, sie zu lesen. Gleichzeitig hat sie einige schöne Seiten, Themen und Beschreibungen.