Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Black Money” as Want to Read:
Black Money
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Black Money (Lew Archer #13)

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,266 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
When Lew Archer is hired to get the goods on the suspiciously suave Frenchman who's run off with his client's girlfriend, it looks like a simple case of alienated affections. Things look different when the mysterious foreigner turns out to be connected to a seven-year-old suicide and a mountain of gambling debts. Black Money is Ross Macdonald at his finest.
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 15th 2011 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1966)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Black Money, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Black Money

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 08, 2015 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It begins as a story told countless number of times starting from the dawn of the history of humanity: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with her, and a tall dark mysterious stranger appears and takes the girl away from the boy. In this case the boy happens to have some spare money to spend on a private investigator who is none other than Lew Archer. The former is sure the tall, dark, and mysterious Frenchman is a phony. While he knows is would be impossible to get the girl back, he still wants ...more
Richard Derus
Rating: 3* of five

An antique now, a re-read launched because Ethan and Joel Coen are set to write a screen adaptation. I seem to be alone in this, but I liked their film Hail Caesar!.

The novel's dated as heck. Lew Archer's no patch on Travis McGee in the sexism arena, but it's still jarring to 21st century-tuned ears. It's barely noticeable by the standards that the fiftyish Lew would know.
The easy ones were nearly always trouble: frigid or nympho, schizy or commercial or alcoholic, sometimes al
Mar 23, 2016 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently this is going to be The Coen Brothers next movie. Personally I think there are more visually arresting MacDonald novels to adapt. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ opens with an oil spill on the Californian coast (and I believe I wrote in my review that it was crying out for someone to step into Paul Newman’s shoes as Archer, properly named this time); while ‘The Underground Man’ takes place almost entirely in and around the smoke and flame of a forest fire. Can you honestly think of a more dramatic ...more
Oct 08, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
After reading three Lew Archer novels in a row and in order of writing, I can honestly say that I hope to do it again. It was a very interesting exercise as I wrote in one of my last two reviews. Kenneth Millar (pen name Ross Macdonald) was a virtuoso. "The Chill", "The Far Side of the Dollar" and "Black Money" are all intricate, character-driven, detective stories, but except for the constancy of Archer, each couldn't be more different. Sure the author re-used themes, but he did so with great c ...more
Jun 27, 2015 AC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
When I read The Chill, I thought that was Macdonald at his "peak". I was wrong.

If you've come this far in the series (#13), you're likely already a fan of Lew Archer/Ross Macdonald. Even so, I had always felt that he couldn't *quite* reach the level of Chandler - there was always something dated or a touch cheesy here and there -- in the language, in one of the characters, a false note in the dialogue somewhere... minor, but nonetheless a genuine tarnish.

Black Money was published in 1966 -- in o
Jan 10, 2012 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent entry in Ross Macdonald's series of novels about private eye Lew Archer. This one has elements of Macdonald's recurrent theme of dark family secrets, but it spreads its concerns a little broader than that. Archer is hired to find out the truth about a man who has swept a wealthy young woman off her feet. As always with Macdonald, guilt and the fear of shame play a heavy role in matters. Macdonald isn't as colorful a writer, generally, as his two colleagues atop the heap of p ...more
Jul 28, 2016 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ross Macdonald believed that "Black Money" was his best book. While I don't necessarily agree, I can definitely understand where he is coming from. "Black Money" is Macdonald's version of "The Great Gatsby." It's all about unfulfilled dreams, hopes, and promises.

It all starts with a young man who hires Lew Archer to investigate a young man who he suspects of not being who he claims to be. From there it snowballs into a tale of murder, lust, and heartbreak. Macdonald strips away a lot of his sent
Nov 14, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like others, I assume, I picked this one up because I saw that the Coen's were writing a screenplay of it, and maybe direct it. If so, it's kind of an odd one for them, in that there's not a lot of action necessarily, and the story is somewhat convoluted (maybe not the right word), and as is often the case with Macdonald, reaches into the past quite a bit.

Fat rich college kid Peter hires Archer to prevent the girl he's in love with from marrying someone he doesn't trust, and who he thinks will n
Jared Shipley
My first Ross Macdonald book. A top-notch detective story with an elaborate plot, hard-boiled protagonist, and all the elements of great crime fiction. In Lew Archer, Macdonald creates a funnel for the audience to peer into the lives of the inhabitants of high-class, 1960's Southern California with an objective eye, while Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe is more subjective, loading the prose up with his own viewpoints and opinions of the other characters. Archer views everything just the way th ...more
M.L. Rudolph
Nov 28, 2011 M.L. Rudolph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: who-done-ems
1965. Archer is called in to investigate the background of a newcomer to the exclusive beachside community of Montevista. A tough guy Frenchie has stolen the fiance of a rich local boy who wants his beauty back.

Archer's investigation takes a detour from the start when he bumps shoulders with another snoop whom he witnesses getting muscled by their target, getting his expensive camera trampled to bits, then getting threatened by a handgun through the window of the Bentley. Frenchie obviously val
I’ve recently read a Lew Archer short story which I thought was excellent; so I wanted to read one of the novels. What I’ve found is Ross Macdonald is trying to be like Dashiell Hammitt or Raymond Chandler but his is missing key elements that made their stories interesting. There was no witty banter, wise cracks and no unexpected plot twists. Archer was decent protagonist and I think the book was jammed packed with sex and violence but without the twists and wit it just doesn’t seem the same; ma ...more
I feel like I have read a bunch of Ross Macdonald and never like his books but for some stupid reason I keep forcing myself to try. I bought this book because it had a hip, silly, massively appealing cover, but I find the characters extremely boring and the writing style kind of terrible and I'm just going to quit on it right now and that's that.

Yeah I know tons of people think Ross MacDonald is the greatest thing since hard boiled eggs. It seems like I might be one of them, but I tried and I'm
Jul 18, 2009 Jake rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Solid archetypal noir from the mid-1960s. Ross MacDonald might not have invented anything new when it came to mysteries, but he took what Chandler created and compressed it down to beautiful, minimalist art. Here he's playing in his usual stomping ground: among the unhappy rich in Southern California, uncovering their intricate secrets. Unlike "The Galton Case" or "The Chill", this one doesn't have a real blockbuster surprise ending, but the case is wound up in a way which feels satisfying nonet ...more
David Monroe
Black Money is an excellent entry in Ross Macdonald's series of novels about private eye Lew Archer from the fictional California town of Santa Teresa. It has the usual Macdonald recurrent theme: the dark and twisted family secrets of mid-20th century's 1%, but it spreads its concerns a little broader, and deeper in this one. Initially, Archer's hired to find out the truth about a man who has swept a wealthy young woman off her feet. As always with Macdonald, deep-seated guilt and the fear of sh ...more
Jan 24, 2016 Jure rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I caught the housekeeper glaring at the highball and the bottle as if they represented everything she hated. She had violent black eyes, and she looked like a good hater."

Masterpiece. Not so much for the complex and clever plotting but mostly for its execution. So elegant, natural and effortless. Stuff like this separates crime novels from simple mystery pulps and masters from mediocre authors. Simply flawless and mandatory re-reading!

More here (review includes spoilers!):
Kurt Reichenbaugh
Nov 15, 2010 Kurt Reichenbaugh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
America might be the perfect place to re-invent yourself and win the hand of that princess on the hill, but sooner or later your past will inevitably return and claim its due. Mid-60's Lew Archer investigates a phony Frenchman, a suicide, murder, a possible kidnapping and blackmail among the country-club set in Southern California.
Carla Remy
Feb 14, 2014 Carla Remy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A typically satisfying Ross Macdonald mystery.
Tom Stamper
Dec 27, 2016 Tom Stamper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lew Archer's client is a forlorn twentysomething that lost his girl to a mystery man. He wants Archer to expose the mystery man as a fraud. It's a straightforward premise and one that early Archer books would have tackled as expected. It seems to me that the mysteries of these later Archer books are becoming Agatha Christie like in their complexity. Macdonald has created such an interesting protagonist in Lew Archer that I don't think the stories need it. The villain here is well hidden in plain ...more
Patrik Sahlstrøm
Dec 27, 2016 Patrik Sahlstrøm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a spaced out plot, but at least a fresh one, otherwise a well-written crime story
Oct 20, 2016 Msaout rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
could not finish
find it predictable and somewhat cliche
E.R. Torre
Nov 03, 2015 E.R. Torre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First, let me say this: I'm a huge fan of Ross Macdonald's (the pen name for Kenneth Millar) Lew Archer detective novels. Secondly, I'll be the first to acknowledge that Mr. Macdonald's Lew Archer novels wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the Raymond Chandler Phillip Marlowe books. Some might find the similarities between the characters a little too close and I suspect that's the reason why the original (Marlowe) is held in such high esteem while Mr. Macdonald's books aren't remembered as wel ...more
Lukasz Pruski
Lew Archer – the hardest of the hard-boiled dicks
(a blurb on the cover of 1967 Bantam paperback printing of Black Money)

The luminous city. It's a phrase I use for the world of spirit and intellect, the distillation of the great minds of past and present. [...] It takes in everything from Plato's Forms and Augustine's Civitas Dei to Joyce's epiphanies.” (Ross Macdonald, Black Money)

It must be difficult to combine pulp-style literature with subtle literary references in a mystery novel and it w
Jun 12, 2015 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The New York Times says of Ross Macdonald's books: "The finest series of detective novels ever written by an American." This book's dust jacket notes: "If any writer can be said to have inherited the mantle of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, It was Ross Macdonald...He gave the American crime novel a psychological depth and moral complexity that his predecessors had only hinted at."
High praise, indeed. Yet on the basis of this book I have to scratch my head. I have had Ross Macdonald books
Mar 14, 2015 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
"Βρώμικο χρήμα", εκδόσεις ΒΙΠΕΡ.

Αυτό είναι το τρίτο βιβλίο του Ρος Μακντόναλντ που διαβάζω και ήταν στο ίδιο υψηλό επίπεδο με τα δυο προηγούμενα. Ο Ρος Μακντόναλντ είναι μέσα στους δυο αγαπημένους μου συγγραφείς αστυνομικών νουάρ μυθιστορημάτων πλέον, μετά βέβαια από τον μετρ του είδους Ρέιμοντ Τσάντλερ. Ήρωας του βιβλίου αυτού, όπως και στα περισσότερα αστυνομικά που έγραψε ο Μακντόναλντ είναι, φυσικά, ο ιδιωτικός ντετέκτιβ Λιου Άρτσερ.

Πως έχει σε γενικές γραμμές η υπόθεση: Ο Λιου Άρτσερ προσλ
Jun 30, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
BLACK MONEY. (1965). Ross Macdonald. ****.
Lew Archer is hired by a young man who wants to find his sweetheart and have her return to him. He knows that he can’t force her to do so, but at least he can thwart her impending marriage to a man named Martel. Martel has appeared on the scene, claiming to be a political exile without papers. He is wanted by DeGaulle and by Franco. He also claimed to be a Frenchman, active in anti-government programs. Archer can’t believe any of this, and takes on the t
Jul 03, 2014 Stephen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, lew-archer
Lew Archer is hired by a rich young man to investigate a French nobleman who stole the man's fiance. Archer finds out the Frenchman is not entirely what he seems and discovers a surprising connection to a seven year old suicide. Soon the lies and the bodies both start to pile up.

Going into an Archer novel, you kind of know what you're going to get: rich people with secrets they try to keep buried, not to mention some of the tightest similes in all of fiction. Here's one such example:

"He lived in
Feb 13, 2011 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
I read this because Ross Macdonald's name keeps popping up. This is, my friend Dave informs me, called the "Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon", when something you've never heard of before suddenly keeps popping up.

I was not that impressed with "Black Money". I think the protagonist Lew Archer is a little too moral to be a good detective. At least for my taste. Archer mostly plays by the rules and pulls his punches. I prefer Philip Marlowe: someone who drinks a little too hard, who's not afraid to kick a
Rog Harrison
On 4 April 2013 I wrote, "I read several of the Lew Archer stories back in the late 1970s so I was pleased to find this one in the library. I don't remember reading this one before and it was a compelling read. The plot is convoluted but Lew Archer is a great character and this made me want to look for other books in this series and also think about re-reading Raymond Chandler's books too."

I realised as soon as I read the first page that I had read this book recently but I was surprised to disco
Bill  Kerwin
Jan 16, 2017 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A young girl from a good background becomes involved with a mysterious Frenchman at the country club, and her ex-fiancee hires Lew Archer to discover if the Frenchman is an impostor. Soon the Frenchman seems to be connected to an earlier death labeled as a suicide, and then the bodies begin to pile up. As usual, Archer must discover what happened in the past in order to understand the evil which continues to ruin the lives of the young here and now.

I like this book very much, but it finally dis
Jul 22, 2013 Frank rated it liked it
Interesting enough at start. The beautiful simplicity of Macdonald's prose is as strong as ever. I thought I read somewhere he considered this one of his best. Maybe it's because a substantial part of the plot contains a variation on The Great Gatsby, so he felt this was his most literary? In essence, it's an anatomy of the 'careless people' Fitzgerald also writes about.
But I felt the plot sizzled out a little, and the Doppelganger motif at the end, in connection with all the references to Franc
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Big Knockover: Selected Stories and Short Novels
  • Lady Here's Your Wreath
  • Double, Double
  • The Heat's On (Harlem Cycle, #6)
  • Savage Night
  • Night and Fear: A Centenary Collection of Stories
  • The Big Clock
  • Street of No Return
  • The Wrong Case
  • Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon
  • Solomon's Vineyard
  • The Glass Cell
  • The Rise of Life on Earth
  • The Case Of The Stepdaughter's Secret
  • The Name of the Game Is Death (Drake, #1)
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
  • Find a Victim
  • The Barbarous Coast
  • The Doomsters
  • The Galton Case
  • The Wycherly Woman

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“Never sleep with anyone whose troubles are worse than your own.” 2 likes
“The sun, heavy and red, was almost down on the horizon now. Its image floated like spilled fire on the water. The” 1 likes
More quotes…