The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel
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The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Lew Archer #8)

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  1,240 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Almost twenty years have passed since Anthony Galton disappeared, along with a suspiciously streetwise bride and several thousand dollars of his family's fortune. Now Anthony's mother wants him back and has hired Lew Archer to find him. What turns up is a headless skeleton, a boy who claims to be Galton's son, and a con game whose stakes are so high that someone is still w...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published February 23rd 2011 by Vintage (first published 1959)
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Ross Macdonald definitely dances down the same literary streets as Hammett and Chandler. This hardboiled detective novel, the 8th in the Lew Archer series, feels like it was written in one continuous sitting (that is a good thing).

'The Galton Case' has a naked narrative intensity that is well-supported by its witty dialogue and California Noir setting. Macdonald is one of those authors who is so spare and bare that it is hard NOT to be impressed by the clean, minimalist architecture of his writ...more
For a writer, reading Ross MacDonald can be an intimidating experience destined to cause vast amounts of envy. The simplicity and yet stark beauty of his prose; the sheer perfect poetry of his descriptions; the way he can do so much with just a few lines of dialogue – like his one time friend and mentor, Raymond Chandler, MacDonald is able to lift genre fiction to a place where it becomes literature.

The Galton Case sees MacDonald’s private eye, Lew Archer, investigate a twenty year old missing...more
Bill  Kerwin

This is the first great Lew Archer novel, and it has all the important Ross Macdonald elements: money, family betrayal, and a crime in the present with links to a crime committed a generation ago. This is a classic of the genre.
Harry Kane
Some authors I read for the plot. Some for the characters. Some for the atmosphere. And some for the prose. Simenon is for atmosphere. Ross is for prose. Like many others I'm reading the Archer books chronologically, starting with the first one. There are many signs in the first books that Ross Macdonald is a phenomenon, but generally it was like a more insecure Chandler, surrounding himself like an octopus with ink with too many strained metaphors and far too poetic descriptions. Not as much as...more
Aug 29, 2011 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone

I read my first Lew Archer novel just a couple of weeks ago and was very impressed. "The Galton Case" reinforces all of the good things that I said previously; "Ross Macdonald" could write extremely well. The prose is distinctive, powerful and sensuous. Where else does the detective get hired (page 9) because an old friend claims, "...I trust you to handle this affair with some degree of urbanity"? Urbanity! It wasn't a common expression in the 40s, 50s or any decade. And how about this lush par...more
The Galton Case actually shares many genes with its ancestor, The Moving Target, the first Archer book. This one uses the same structure and the same private eye, but the big difference here is that The Galton Caseapplies James's "lucid reflector" strategy to Archer, yielding something far removed from Chandler's neon-tube metaphors and half-serious gangster slang. Instead, it yields something much closer to the "literary novel" (read: "psychoanalytic novel") of the last eighty years. Expect Cha...more
Aug 08, 2007 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans, detective fiction buffs
Fantastic. MacDonald clearly steps out from the shadow of Raymond Chandler with this book. Less cynical and conflicted than Chandler's Philip Marlowe, Lew Archer fits the template of the jaded private eye, but with a more resigned, is-what-it-is outlook on life and corruption. The writing style is less dense and elaborate than Chandler's, but still effective in its bleak starkness. A great novel, not just a great detective novel.
Audible. I listened to this book while driving to Sacramento and then to San Francisco. Macdonald is always a reliable, lean, mean read. The Galton Case is set along the coast west from Redwood City, in San Francisco, over to Sacramento. Late 40s and early 50s. Not only a good story but gave me such a wonderful sense of driving through history. Drives (and listens) don't get much more satisfying. And I'll always give Ross Macdonald a 4. Can't do what he does any better. .
This is one of the best plotted mysteries in detective fiction I have ever read! The writing is very clean and elegant to with some excellent turns of phrase for genre fiction!
Jim Thomas
Every Ross Macdonald fan probably has their own favorite but I tend to see his writings as Lawrence Block (I think it's Block)all being the same book with just different details and characters. Funny but true to an extent. However, I think Block went on to say it is one great book! Reading this the 2nd time through reminded me that this is one of my favorites just like another one I re-read the same week, The Chill. If you want to read something in the style of Chandler or Hammett, Macdonald is...more
If you don't especially like the Ross Macdonald novels you keep reading, don't give up because eventually you will find one you really enjoy! For me it was this.

While it wasn't at all the main point, a lot of this book seemed to be about how it sucks to be a woman. It did an amazing job of showing a changing California, and I loved seeing this view of my home state in a transitional stage before my own day. Plus an awesome plot that kept ahead of me without dirty tricks and Archer in top form. G...more
My first Lew Archer novel. What a delicious start to a long plow through all the LEw Archer novels. Lew Archer is a ghost, barely described, so far about 6 feet , one-ninety and plaed some high school football. After that, nothing.

No Watson, Archie or Meyer to banter with. A little sardonic comedy. But the bok is packed with grea writing.

At random...

"She exerted them, and got up, and walked away from me and her fear."

"She kept her finger pressed on the button until her lunch arrived. That was a...more
David Monroe
Very good. Probably the best of the Archer books I've read. It works on three levels. A breezy noir mystery with the usual Macdonald trops being wraped up by Wold Newton family member Lew Archer; a fairly (especially for 1959) nuanced and complex psychological study; and for those paying attention (or those in the 21st Century with access to Wikipedia) Macdonald's thin veneer of autobiographically retracing his own steps from Canada to Chicago to California.
Ian Kirkpatrick
“The Galton Case” is the first Ross Macdonald novel I have read, but it won’t be the last. I still get a buzz from discovering an author whose work moves me. Macdonald’s work spans from the mid-forties to the early eighties, but many critics feel that this novel, originally published in 1959, marked a shift into a deeper and more complex phase.

Macdonald was often compared to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Indeed his detective Lew Archer owes his name to Sam Spade’s murdered colleague Mil...more
This was the first Ross Macdonald book I read and it's still one of my favorites. The true test of a great detective novel is whether you can reread it -- and I've reread this one four or five times. I agree with another poster here -- Macdonald is one of the best American novelists of the 20th Century, period, regardless of genre, and Chandler doesn't even come close. Required reading for anyone who loves real noir fiction.
Wilde Sky
A detective searches for a missing heir.

This book is a real page turner, with a plot full of twists and turns. The writing style, scene description and characters all grabbed my attention. The final twist at the end was good.

If you like fast paced / complex thrillers (such as those by Raymond Chandler) you’ll probably enjoy this book.
Ryan Potter
Great pacing and an intricate plot that kept me guessing the entire way. I thought I had the "whodunit" part all figured, but boy, was I wrong! Wonderful mystery novel. Highly recommended.
One of the best. The maturing of Archer... I mean, Macdonald (see my comments on The Doomster)... continues
Jason Shaffner
One of the best entries in the Lew Archer series, yet I will be scratching my head over the last 30 pages for a while... As usual, the writing is brilliant and several characters sparkle. And the standard Archer features are here, too -- getting his skull bashed in, misjudging a key player's true character, cracking wise, chugging Gibsons. The plot is -- to put it gently -- overly complex and unrealistic. However, it moves so swiftly and elegantly that you stick with it, waiting for the next twi...more
Fue mi primera novela de Ross MacDonald, y fue todo un descubrimiento.
Buena novela que aparte del caso que trata a resolver, describe con claridad e incluso con crudeza los bajos fondos, la mafia, los barrios ricos, etc. Numerosos personajes interesantes sobre todos los femeninos: cuarentonas y jovencitas enamoradas, prostitutas sin remordimientos, mujeres con pasado que intentan olvidarlo. Los masculinos son menos interesantes: joven inteligente con ambiciones, hombres con pasado y problemas d...more
Noir's Fitzgerald.
I came across the name Ross MacDonald in a discussion of classic noir. How is it that I had never heard his name before? Sometimes I feel like I've spent the last 15 years trying to find someone half as good as Hammett and Chandler. I hate the Agatha Christe locked-room bullshit. Then I hear the name MacDonald mentioned favorably. One bit of overwrought marketing ever said something like "along with Hammett and Chandler, MacDonald forms the trio that put American noir on the map". I think most o...more
Macdonald, Ross. THE GALTON CASE. (1959). ****.
I recently came across a list compiled by John Connolly and Declan Hughes entitled: “Ten Crime Novels You Must Read Before You Die” (or something like that). These are both fine writers and I was interested to see what they had come up with. they did indeed have ten titles in bold print, but they cheated and had about fifteen to twenty more as second thoughts. In their second thoughts list, I found two Macdonald novels that I hadn’t read – even tho...more
Well, this book reminded me a whole lot of The Doomsters, except a bit better than that book. A few of the same plot devices are in common, and sort of the overall tone is the same. However, this one made me actually care what happened, and surprised me a few times. Really, the plot is twistier than...I don't know, something really twisty. Every time I thought I had a handle on what happened, things would twist the opposite way.
(view spoiler)...more
A couple months back Gillian Flynn name-checked Ross Macdonald's work. Let me check. Yes, here it is.

My home library has a shelf devoted entirely to Macdonald. You can pick up almost any book in his sun-dazzled Lew Archer series and enjoy mid-century California noir like no other.

She's right, and reading MacDonald again after the Flynn catalog highlights the former's influence on the latter. Flynn's not derivative, don't get me wrong. She just knows good w...more
Apr 17, 2012 rabbitprincess rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Macdonald and/or Raymond Chandler
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Rough Guide to Crime Fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I read this after a long time away from Macdonald, so I'm unsure where to place it in the canon. Clearly one of the better ones - I read it in one sitting between breakfast and a late lunch - with a plot that starts in a rather linear fashion, almost seeming to resolve itself before we've gotten very far into the book. And then suddenly it blooms, with a dozen characters connected by several suggestive but not entirely clear threads. What's going on isn't clear, but Archer doggedly continues to...more
Really good read! America in the 50's or so doesn't usually float my boat but Ross Macdonald's crime stories are very engaging. I love the way Macdonald drip feeds information in deliciously and infuriatingly small parcels and keeps the tension alive. The writing is no-nonsense and quite pacey. Good descriptions as well, the most amusing in this book was the poetry night! The crimes are twisted and layered so much that the resolution at the end comes as a physical relief. The ending is quite abr...more
"Do you understand what it's like to have nobody at all, son?" I expect I'll be digging into a lot of Lew Archer books soon based on how much I liked this one. All of the mistaken identities, the false leads, the inexplicable actions, the loss of faith in established characters, go a long way toward confirming Archer's thought early in the novel that the deceptions perpetrated by the immoral make it difficult to have any trust in the world.
Sheela Word
Well-plotted, well-written mystery novel, starring the wise-cracking detective, Lew Archer. I particularly like the psychologically complex secondary characters, all of whom seem to have a full life beyond the role they play in this book. Set in Southern California, late 1950's. Feels more modern than that.
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  • A Hell of a Woman
  • The Long-Legged Fly (Lew Griffin, #1)
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  • Nightfall
  • The Two Faces of January
  • Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon
  • The Big Clock
  • Champagne for One (Nero Wolfe, #31)
Ross Macdonald is the pseudonym of the American-Canadian writer of crime fiction Kenneth Millar. He is best known for his series of hardboiled novels set in southern California and featuring private detective Lew Archer.

Millar was born in Los Gatos, California, and raised in his parents' native Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, where he started college. When his father abandoned his family unexpectedly,...more
More about Ross Macdonald...
The Drowning Pool (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) The Chill The Moving Target The Way Some People Die The Underground Man

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