When millionaire Ralph Sampson goes missing, PI Lew Archer is called in to hunt him down before something really bad happens. The trail leads Archer all over Southern California, from sun-bleached canyons and sea-side beach houses to dodgy bars and even dodgier women. But is this case about money, sex or just a break-down in the mega-rich Samson’s family? Archer finds himself utilised as a punch-bag at almost every turn, but if he doesn’t find his client soon, he might end up bringing home a corpse.
This is book one in Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer series and is the first time I’ve delved into the author’s take on the private investigator league. Though the writing is reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, MacDonald takes the genre and moves it up a few notches, creating a writing style that sizzles with wit and panache. What I loved most about it is that even though this is our first outing with Archer, he lands ready-made as if he’s been around for years. The plot is of the twisty-turny variety and kept me on my toes trying to work out what was happening, but the second half of the book zips along, racing to a clever and thrilling denouement.
An exciting read that’ll please anyone who loves Chandler and Hammett.
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