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Find A Victim(Lew Archer # 5)
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Find A Victim (Lew Archer #5)

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  483 ratings  ·  43 reviews
A Lew Archer novel, number 5 in the series.
Mass Market Paperback, 192 pages
Published December 1972 by Bantam Books (first published 1954)
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Ross Macdonald is the one of originators of the hard boiled detective novel along with Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Although his novels were written over 50 years ago, they still stand up with anything that's written today.

Find a Victim is one of the better entries in the Lew Archer series, even though his best work was to come (see The Doomsters, The Chill or The Underground Man).

Unlike some of today's private eyes (I'm looking at you Spenser), Archer wasn't afraid to get the crap kic
Good noir fun from a classic master of the genre

Read on the plane from Vienna to London

Lew Archer finds himself in a small Californian town near the Nevada border picking up a dead body by the side of the road. The town seems to be populated by angry and agressive people, all suspects, all ready to fight or f*ck at the drop of a hat. This is a case Archer could never resist!

A great read, only my second Archer novel and the differences between the two are astounding. MacDonald doesn't seem to hav
Bill  Kerwin

This is by no means the first good Lew Archer, but it is the first that feels like quintessential Archer to me, its characters confined to narrow psychological spaces and dwarfed by the immensity of family history. Except for a barely relevant--though exciting--shootout with hijackers, everything in this novel contributes to the conclusion, and the last chapter is extraordinarily powerful and effective. Macdonald's portraits of the police chief of Los Cruces and his wife--good people enmeshed in
More like Find a Plot, a smartass might say. Fortunately, my ass isn't that smart. I like my Archer like I like my women: sinewy, vaguely wicked, without an overabundance of exclamation points. This one reminded me of the last baloney sandwiched I downed: a little thin. It wasn't as bad as waking up naked next to an odiferous Audrina Patridge and realizing you have a bad taste in your mouth. Nope, not that bad. Just sorta like the Dali Lama's sex life: not much to talk about.

I blame the setting.
Another great Lew Archer detective noir book from Ross Macdonald. This one really reminded me of "The Lady in the Lake" by Raymond Chandler because it took Archer out of his usual L.A. comfort zone and had him traipsing around in the countryside.

As this series goes on Archer becomes a more and more interesting character. The book begins with Archer finding a fatally shot man on the side of a road. Archer wants to find out who killed him. More accurately, Archer NEEDS to find out who killed him.
Archer fell into the case quite by accident. While driving on a lonely road north of Bakersfield late at night, he barely spotted the arm waving weakly from the ditch. The man was unconscious by the time he got to him and had a bullet wound in the chest. There was a lot of blood.

Archer bundled him into his car and took off. The first place he found open was a motel. The owners were there, the manager having not been in all week, and the husband was reluctant at first to help him. The wife called
Dashiell Hammett, Ross MacDonald, and Dave Goodis are heads above the rest of the classic crime novelists. I'd easily take MacDonald over Chandler any day. Close runners up to these, and still above Chandler for me, are James M. Cain, James Crumley, and Jim Thompson, though each of those are have one foot in a particular subset of crime fiction that involves the problem of the grift or the confidence scheme, and to complicate things further, this often involves their own emotional blindspots tak ...more
Felix Hayman
Ross Macdonald at his prime.His small town California is mean, dirty and poor and the people are equally mean, nasty and selfish.Unlike Chandler many of Macdonald's characters have no redeeming features whatsoever and it is a glimpse into a time, the 1950's, when people were expendable above cash, above morality and we all know that private eyes were either above the moral, in the extreme.
In this novel the moral is don't ever stop for a hitchiker who dies on you, don't ever get involved in famil
This short book is #5 -- I've resolved to try to read the series in order. Millar (Macdonald) himself said that Doomsters (#7) was his breakthrough book, so one more till I get there:

This book has some flaws, which led me for a while to toy with giving this three-stars. It's a bit melodramatic in the middle and those fight scenes are just corny. The writing doesn't have quite the sparkle of some of the earlier books - it's a touch flatter.

But the strengt
I see this book as the turning point in the Archer series: Macdonald twisting the plot in on itself just enough to form a figure eight (symbol of the infinite) instead of the more traditional loop (begin with a crime, end with its solution). With this discovery, Macdonald's plots get a whole lot more interesting.

Prior to this novel, you see Macdonald either settling for Chandlerian confusion or working things out in entirely predictable ways, but after this, you may or may not know what is comi
Tom Stamper
Archer is out of town heading for San Francisco when he finds a bleeding man on the side of the road. The consequences of that discovery leads him into the kind of complicated and interesting case that we have grown accustomed to. MacDonald's 5th Archer novel continues the theme of family secrets and petty thieves linked together by circumstances. There are very few innocents in this dirty world and as usual Archer risks his life to bring in the bad guys for very little money and hardly any grat ...more
I love Ross Macdonald's writing style. Quotes!

"She didn't look like any motel manager I had ever seen. More likely an actress who hadn't quite made the grade down south, or a very successful amateur tart on the verge of turning pro. Whatever her business was, there had to be sex in it. she was as full
of sex as a grape is full of juice, and so young that it hadn't begun to sour."

"She swaggered along through the lower depths of the city as if she was drunk with her own desireability."

"his living-
FIND A VICTIM. (1954). Ross Macdonald. ****.
Lew Archer, while on a drive up to Sacramento, sees a man lying by the side of the road. Being Lew, he backs up to see what’s going on. When he gets to the man, he is barely alive. It turned out that the victim was the driver of a semi-truckload of bourbon, which had been hi-jacked. The driver never made it, but he was known locally. Also local was the owner of the shipping company and the customer for the load of hootch. It seems that Archer had once
Jason Shaffner
A busy little book of murder, incest, bank robbery, highway robbery, gunplay, and ass-kicking. Lew Archer's in the middle of it all (as usual) cracking wise, making friends (and enemies), and -- in the end -- cracking the nut. This is the 4th Archer novel, and we're still learning who he is (two references to Okinawa, more info on his failed marriage) and he surprised me a few times, even as HE was surprised by a few of the other characters in this novel. Even when the plot grows a little convol ...more
Hmm... this one's pretty grim.

I think I'll need to take a break from Lew Archer for a bit.

Some great moments though:

"He smiled with soft malice. His changeable mouth, both sensitive and brutal, tempted my fist the way a magnet tempts iron."

"She didn't look like any motel manager I had ever seen. More likely an actress who hadn't quite made the grade down south, or a very successful amateur tart on the verge of turning pro."

"'You have been kind to me, though, last night, and again today. I can't
MacDonald makes ample use of metaphor and personification that cause his lackluster plot to slide the reader's literary canal and allows his story to digest much like a Thanksgiving dinner. Archer is drawn into this mystery through a chance meeting on a road. A severely wounded man rises up from the highway's shoulder and flags the private eye down. Soon, Archer is working on a missing, hijacked truck, a murder spree, and the wife of the local sheriff.

Through it all, Archer gets beat up, knocked
Aaron Martz
One thing you'll never get in a Macdonald mystery is a shortage of memorable characters. This one, in fact, has way too many. So many that it's difficult, even during the lengthy monologues of summation in the concluding chapters, to keep them all straight. There are not one but three femme fatales and at least four heavies (one of them being the ubiquitous hick sheriff). The initial crime seems to be the robbery of a truck carrying bootleg bourbon, but it quickly turns into murder followed by a ...more
Phillip Frey
Mar 10, 2014 Phillip Frey rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes good old-fashioned detective stories.
For me, the Ross MacDonald Lew Archer books are a real treat. I read this one a number of years ago and thought it time to read it again. Glad I did. Private investigator Archer drives toward a town he'll be passing through. He picks up an injured hitchhiker, which will pull him into a case of robbery, corruption, abused housewives, and murder. I have many more Lew Archer books and will be rereading them.
Oddly enough, what I like most about this book is probably the relationship dynamics: they're extremely realistic. Somehow, Ross Macdonald was even able to get inside the heads of women, which is usually difficult for men to do with much accuracy. I could completely believe that his female characters in this book were real people with real motives. (view spoiler)
It also w
Lew picks up a ghastly hitchhiker and finds himself drawn into the web of a corrupt county.

I enjoyed this book well enough, but after "The Ivory Grin" it was a bit of a letdown. Ross Macdonald's characteristic writing style and unexpected metaphors are present, and the plot is good. However, I found it to be a bit simplistic in terms of figuring out the plot. On that level it was more like an Agatha Christie mystery. The big dumb guy who is the obvious suspect is obviously not. Then, as the boo
So far not my favorite of Macdonald's hard-boiled fiction. It's his fifth featuring the detective character of Lew Archer and in some ways it feels less inspired than the previous four. Maybe Macdonald was starting to grow restless with the format. Still interested in reading more though, especially his late 50's output where he apparently perfects his craft.
I hadn't read any Ross Macdonald before, but he reminds me quite a bit of Raymond Chandler. The writing is stripped down, without the bloat a lot of more modern novels have. But Macdonald manages to use some very strong language--it the midst of a straight forward description, he'll throw in a clever and unexpected turn of phrase or description, which grabbed me. Lew Archer is quite firmly in the mold of Philip Marlowe, and the story, while containing some twists and turns, is merely strong. The ...more
Welcome to the 50s, where all the men are cruel, the women are vulnerable and loose, the slang is entertaining, and the imagery is striking.
basic problem is i like almost everything ross macdonald did: this one counted is because it has such a bittersweet resolution, when indeed you follow the title. it is more the web and weave of emotional connections of past and present, child and parent, than just a mystery to solve. i like how arbitrary, how inevitably, lew archer is drawn into this case. and when the motives of the suspect, of family, of other characters, emerge, it is not so much a revealed plot but the latent plot that resol ...more
David Everett
One of MacDonald's best. The setting (a small town off the beaten path on the way to Sacramento) and the underlying story (a highjacked truck) set this one apart. Like many of the Lew Archer novels, Find a Victim is highly cinemeatic, though the brilliant turns of phrase would undoubtedly be lost in most productions (Archer is always in the first person, but I find voice-overs rarely work well). The sense of looming danger and dark secrets is engrossing. In true MacDonald fashion, the reader is ...more
Outside a lonely town a man lies dying alongside the highway.

Nearby is a motel with an unfriendly proprietor and a friendly wife. In the town we find, small town toughs and people with sad histories, looking for a buck. The women are mostly pretty faces and long legs, wearing red lipstick and tight dresses. In between drinks, they talk sad and long, about their bad choices. Most of them are lonely.

Everybody is looking to change their luck.

Along comes Lew Archer, driving down the highway, he se
Not Macdonald's best, but still an entertaining read
Re-evaluating this book having read more MacDonald, and more crime fiction in general, I find myself thinking about the plot again and again. MacDonald does fascinating things with the mystery genre. I read this last year, but already want to re-read it.

It's interesting, the sex life of Philip Marlowe was always played up in the movies, though there's little in the Chandler books. But Lew Archer's sex antics is ignored in the movies when it's actually apparent in the books. Strange, since for th
Joe  Noir
Excellent book. Archer is flagged down by what he thinks is a hitchhiker, until he sees the guy has been shot. Archer takes him to the hospital. As a result he will spend the next few days in Las Cruces encountering murder, a highjacked truckload of booze, incest, beatings, fights, a shootout, a bank robbery, an abandoned air base, frustrated women, marijuana, and a lot of money. Beautifully written, poetic, yet still hardboiled. Terrific insights. A real pleasure to read. Exciting, mysterious, ...more
Vannessagrace Vannessagrace
Find a Victim was an exhilarating read! Lew Archer solved the case without the use of modern technology such as cell phones, computers, etc.

While Lew Archer was driving through a Southern California town, he stops for a hitchhiker. When he gets to him he found that the hitchhiker had been shot. Lew decides to stay around to learn who shot the hitchhiker. Tom Parker does a great job in storytelling as his voice was perfect for the period.
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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 about Ross Macdonald...

Other Books in the Series

Lew Archer (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Name Is Archer
  • The Moving Target
  • The Drowning Pool (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
  • The Way Some People Die
  • The Ivory Grin
  • The Barbarous Coast
  • The Doomsters
  • The Galton Case
  • The Wycherly Woman
  • The Zebra-Striped Hearse
The Drowning Pool (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) The Chill The Galton Case The Moving Target The Way Some People Die

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“She didn't look like any motel manager I had ever seen. More likely an actress who hadn't quite made the grade down south, or a very successful amateur tart on the verge of turning pro. Whatever her business was, there had to be sex in it. She was as full of sex as a grape is full of juice, and so young that it hadn't begun to sour.” 1 likes
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