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Publisher's Summary

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.

Critic Reviews

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)

What listeners say about The Wycherly Woman

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Confessions of a Philistine

Of the three major names in American hardboiled fiction, Chandler, Hammett, and Macdonald, I like Macdonald best. And not just because he graduated from the University of Michigan. Or that his first protagonist works on the school’s Middle English Dictionary project—an effort still underway when I graduated some 40 years later.

No, I prefer Macdonald because he is the least haunted, the least labored, the least self-consciously literary of the three. Like Hammett, he clearly sees things wrong with America but doesn’t hate the country--or indulge in the fathomless despair Hammett's hatred inspires. Unencumbered by Chandler’s theories of style vs formula, Macdonald just writes. I like Lew Archer; he’s a genuinely good man. I delight in his wry, self-deprecating humor. And, frankly, his cases are far easier to follow.

Grover Gardner (aka Tom Parker), who reads every Lew Archer story available at Audible, is very easy to follow, too.

4 people found this helpful

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Classic (not boring) Gumshoe

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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • 06-26-12

Not Boring

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.

3 people found this helpful

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Nice work

Grover Gardner is such an excellent narrator that he invests all his work with convincing voices and therefore credible characters. This helps with this novel which has a plot that is a little more stretched than usual. The final hour and denouement require more suspension of disbelief than Macdonald usual demands. Still the complete result is very entertaining and often funny. Recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Great psycho mystery

Terse and complex w touches of sardonic humor as Archer unravels the mysteries of passion and love and greed

1 person found this helpful

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50s and 60s Views of Women

It’s a good investigation story. Attitudes toward women were very different in this time period. It’s good to realize how things have changed.

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Nice story, nothing mind blowing

Some writing doesn’t age that well, in my opinion this novel doesn’t. It’s a fun little old fashioned detective story, but it lacks a certain depth of both story and characters to be anything but mildly entertaining

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Good plot not predictable

The storyline in this one had me guessing until the end. The characterizations were good with nice twists on Macdonald’s giggle worthy one liners. Sometimes the narrator wasn’t able to sustain distinction on multiple voices but was otherwise verbally hard boiled.

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Missing

Archer is hired to kind a missing daughter. What he finds is both mother and daughter missing and two murdered blackmailers. Like all good mysteries, this has lots of red herrings.

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The wycherly woman

I really enjoyed this private detective story of murder and hidden secrets. The detective was always putting himself in dangerous situations, but he was like a bulldog in his determination to solve the case.