This book is effective, in its way, with some fine behind-the-scenes glimpses of Hollywood, mobsters, and the country club crowd, and Archer is good too, making more than a few weary observations about how private detecting has changed him, and not for the better. We get our first sustained look at a sadder, wiser Archer (we have had more than a few short glimpses before), and he is frank in telling his audience--and a few other characters who will listen--how the shabbiness of the search for tr [...]
According to the latest scientific research sharks can smell a drop of blood in a volume of water about the size of a backyard swimming pool (Google is your friend). Sounds impressive? Not so much if you think that when it comes to sense of smell sharks smelling blood have nothing on organized crime smelling money. Lots of money buys laws and once you do it you are no longer a criminal; you are a highly respected citizen. In fact you become more respected than any low peon who busts his back try [...]
After the modest disappointment of Find a Victim this one's a great comeback. Because it's got a great pun of a title. And it's a Hollywood novel. Granted, the Hollywood Babylon of the early fifties could be a Disney ride by Ellroy standards, but you can still appreciate the sleaze and the cheese, however mild by our odiferous standards. You also get the requisite wacky characters: the effete club manager, the punchdrunk boxer, the jealous husband, and deranged dames galore. But most of all you [...]
The Barbarous Coast is a hipster Hollywood sleaze mystery classic that has to be read to be believed: Ross McDonald tells a story of boxers and pool tramps bought and sold by Hollywood studios while movie studio dicks enforce damage control over their pilled-out and drunken stars while gangsters hustle men for sexual favors and rich wives foam at the mouth from Demerol seizures. Corpses are torched and drunken matron motel managers are packing heat aching for a man to unload it on and stately sa [...]
He's so fine, right up there with Cain and Hammett and Chandler. And he says stuff like this:“Hollywood started as a meaningless dream, invented for money. But its colors ran, out through the holes in people’s heads, spread across the landscape and solidified. North and south along the coast, east across the desert, across the continent. Now we were stuck with the dream without a meaning. It has become the nightmare that we lived in.”
I recently read this author's "The Way Some People Die" and thought the writing and plot very good. I found "The Barbarous Coast" of lesser quality: it seemed to me the plot was, well, all over the place with too many characters popping in and out of the story, some of them even feeling unnecessary to the central story, as if MacDonald was trying to stretch this one out. What's wrong with a novella? Anyway, as hard as I tried to figure this one out, there were some surprises along the way and I [...]
Another great Lew Archer detective story from Ross Macdonald. It starts simple. It always does. A girl is missing and Archer sets out to find her. But things never stay simple in a Macdonald mystery. The trial leads to adultery, insanity, greed, and murder. Quite a bit of murder actually. I think this may have the highest body count of any Archer mystery I've read yet.i am obsessed with the character Lew Archer. The little snippets we get from his life are so tragic and bittersweet. i really enj [...]
This comparatively early Archer novel feels almost carefree and easy-going compared to what was to follow. Given that the last Archer novel I read was ‘The Wycherly Woman’, a book I found more than somewhat dispiriting in its depiction of damaged people doing damaging things to each other, this was something of a relief. Yes, it’s an undoubtedly an Archer novel, as psychology and family intrigues play big roles here, but although there’s murder and blackmail, it knows it’s a detective [...]
Set in 1956 America, the tone and style of Ross Macdonald murder mysteries featuring the detective Lew Archur is similar to a Raymond Chandler novel. I hadn't read a Ross Macdonald for many years, and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. He creates a panoply of varied, credible and convincing characters. The book is both extremely readable and well-written. His command of English is superb. An example: "Miss Seeley came in. She was a little older, a little thinner. Her tailored pinstriped suit e [...]
Enjoyed this like all his others, though not as good as The Chillhe does use the word Neutraesque in here though, and I particularly liked this:Mrs Campbell lived on a poor street of stucco and frame cottages half hidden by large, ancient oak trees. In their sun-flecked shadows, pre-school children played their killing games: Bang Bang, you're dead; I'm not dead; you are so dead.
Looking back, if I had to read this book all over again, I would try to read it straight through without a lot of other distractions. I read this while juggling a couple of other books, and as a result got lost a bit in the plot. In "The Barbarous Coast", Ross MacDonald offers up a classic detective story, along with his trademark descriptions and metaphors.In this book, Lew Archer, attempts to make contact with his new client, only to break up an attack by a man who claims that his wife is miss [...]
2. 5 stars. A middle-of-the-road novel, The Barbarous Coast is the 6th Lew Archer book; it belongs more with the earlier work than the later. The set-up is familiar: a simple request to protect one man from another man turns into a hideously complex story, replete with blackmail, counter-blackmail, gangsters, false business fronts, a schizophrenic woman, several murders, and what seemed like dozens of false leads. The Chandler influence is evident in the plotting, since almost every chapter conc [...]
The last of the early phase of the Lew Archer series, Macdonald's The Barbarous Coast is a solid, but not an essential entry. It's still an Archer book, which means it is beautifully written and plotted, but it simply does not compare to what came after (still some of the finest detective novels ever written). Also, after solid early entries like The Way Some People Die or The Ivory Grin, this book feels overstuffed despite its relatively short length: Macdonald throws a whole Chandler-esq milie [...]
I read the Library of America's "Four Novels of the Fifties." If I were rating that, I'd give it five stars. Each of the novels taken on its own is excellent.For me, Hammett and Chandler are the greatest of the noir novelists of the mid-twentieth century, with Ross MacDonald up there with them. I don't think MacDonald wrote a book as good as "The Big Sleep" or "The Maltese Falcon," but his body of work is larger, and a bit more psychological.As always, the racial and gender politics are occasion [...]
A few years ago I won the Edgar Award for mystery writing. If there was one author that brought me to that it was Ross Macdonald. This book was the one that clicked for me, though I read all of the Lew Archer series, many times over. This was the book that I was reading during a snowstorm somewhere in Ohio on the way to grad school at IU, where a few months later I invented my own fictional detective. Macdonald's evocation of California and post-war angst opened my eyes to my own potential as a [...]
I am amazed that MacDonald seems to have fallen out of the mystery pantheon. His books are marvelously plotted, well written, and speak to issues of family, friendship, and how old wrongs can return to create pain and chaos. I devoured this book and am so glad the Library of America has re-issued these books. When I was young, MacDonald was compared the Hammett and Chandler, and he deserved to be. He was truly one of the great American mystery novelists - in fact, like Hammett and Chandler, he d [...]
This book was recommended to me after I expressed an interest in writing a noir mystery of my own. While the plot line was interesting, and the writing very well done, I found it a tedious read often skimming through parts that seemed unnecessary. Perhaps I found it so because I'm new to noir, but for me it was a struggle. I will probably try a couple more by this author just to see if it's a matter of getting used to the style and genre.
Lew Archer ends up in the cesspool of mid-nineteen fifties Hollywood and lives to tell the tale. (I wonder what he'd think of Hollywood sixty years on?)I'm rereading Macdonald's Lew Archer novels from the last to the first, and The Barbarous Coast was (surprisingly, at least to me) an improvement over The Doomsters, the following book in the series.
As with "The way People Die," the setting is Los Angeles, although this time there is a touch of Las Vegas as well. That is important since part of the reason for reading these books is to enjoy his description of these places, as they were in the 1950's. This time find ourselves in a more upscale part of L.A.: Malibu and Bel Air (instead of lower Santa Monica and what is now Venice, Playa del Rey ands Inglewood) with dashes down to Hollywood's Strip & environs. But does it seem so different [...]
For some reason, I stumbled across an article on my telephone, from The New Repbulic, about how Ross Macdonald was every bit as good, if not better, than Raymond Chandler, when it came to writing hard-boiled, noir detective fiction. So, I had to find me some Ross Macdonald. I have a vague feeling I'd tried doing this before, and none was to be found in my local library. But, the Boston Public Library did have a few Macdonald's available for us Kindle folk. So, I began my Macdonald investigations [...]
Macdonald is still the man who rightly inherited the Chandler hard boiled style but with more ccomplexity and more depth. However, as much as I love Lew Archer mysteries, sometimes I believe author Macdonald was a bit self conscious and forced in creating this depth. He needs to be read. The Library of America have released not one but three volumes of his works. I'm not sure anymore but The Library of America professed they would not publish genre works but literature. They eventually published [...]
I don't know - this one didn't quite do it for me like the other Archer novels have. It was solid, but I thought the resolution to the mystery was a bit too similar to one in an earlier book. There is still the sleazy California noir vibe and it takes on the film industry, but Archer seemed like a bit of a non-factor when it came to cracking the mystery in this one.
Ross McDonald (aka Kenneth Millar) writes great noir fiction. His detective is Lew Archer (called Harper in the Paul Newman movie). This novel is part of a four-novel collection of McDonald's early works. This is the second novel in the collection. It deals with a very shady Hollywood, a missing wife, and an unsolved murder. McDonald creates the perfect "noir" atmosphere, and his writing, while Chandleresque, is above the usual "hard-boiled" style you normally find in noir fiction.
"The problem was to love people, try to serve them, without wanting anything from them. I was a long way from solving that one."I have found this magnificent quote on page 87 of my old paperback edition (1975 printing) of Ross Macdonald's The Barbarous Coast (1956), the sixth novel in the famous Lew Archer series which I am currently re-reading. The quote and some cool passages notwithstanding, this is not one of the better books by Kenneth Millar (Ross Macdonald's real name), and in fact it may [...]
She said surprisingly, in a voice as thin as a flute. "Are you a good man?""I like to think so," but her candor stopped me. "No," I said, "I'm not. I keep trying when I remember to, but it keeps getting tougher every year. Like trying to chin yourself with one hand. You can practice on and off all your life, and never make it."***The DC-6 left the runway and climbed the blue ramp of air. There were only a dozen other passengers, and Rina and I had the front end of the plane to ourselves. When th [...]
All of the Lew Archer mysteries by Ross Macdonald are very good, and all but two or three are excellent. This one is one of the earlier ones, from 1956. By this point, Macdonald was transitioning to a mature voice of his own, and wasn't just imitating Raymond Chandler. It's not one of my four or five favorite Lew Archer novels, as there is still, to my taste, too much about gangsters. Like several of his novels, the plot starts out about a young man whose new wife is acting strangely. George Wal [...]