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The Goodbye Look (Lew Archer #15)

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  722 ratings  ·  44 reviews
In The Goodbye Look, Lew Archer is hired to investigate a burglary at the mission-style mansion of Irene and Larry Chalmers. The prime suspect, their son Nick, has a talent for disappearing, and the Chalmerses are a family with money and memories to burn. As Archer zeros in on Nick, he discovers a troubled blonde, a stash of wartime letters, a mysterious hobo. Then a stiff ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 5th 2000 by Vintage (first published 1969)
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonThe Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonMurder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Detective Fiction
96th out of 715 books — 802 voters
The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
126th out of 491 books — 568 voters

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Community Reviews

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Aug 18, 2009 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: donald
Picture Chandler built with much rougher gin, and not one drop of a vermouth -- not even a vapor.

And no ice.

Picture a room temperature glass of middling gin when what you're after's a martini, and that's sort of what reading this book was like for me.

I don't know, if I could give it an extra half-star I would. MAN, I hate the star system! It just makes me NUTS! To be fair, I'll disclose, I did tear through this book all in a day. I spent an hour with it last night in the heat on my fire escape,
Bill  Kerwin

The classic Ross MacDonald plot: a revolver used in a recent murder is found to be connected to a fifteen-year old homicide, and suspicions swirl around a young person so emotionally scarred by the past that he is convinced he must be guilty of something. (As one of the characters says, "My whole time here, it's been like living in a haunted house." In the Ross McDonald world, she could be speaking about all of us, every single human life.)

Once again the sins of the fathers are visited upon the
Oct 22, 2009 Stephen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Stephen by: Eric_W
Shelves: mystery
If you want to talk about pure story telling, Ross MacDonald is the man. I hadn't read any early MacDonald, only his later works. [Book:The Goodbye Look] was a revelation to me. For the first time in my reading of mysteries, and that includes old 1920s up to the present day, did a book resolve itself strictly by the reasoning skill, and investigative talents of the main character.

Lew Archer is a wonderful character who not only is a Private Investigator, he is humane, intelligent, compassionate,
Until now I’ve only read two Archer novels (curiously, and coincidentally, the two Paul Newman turned into films) and though I enjoyed them, they didn’t make me whoop with joy. I liked them, thought they had good points, but haven’t rushed on to check out the others.

Having read ‘The Goodbye Look’ I now understand why his fans hold him such high regard. MacDonald’s brilliance – certainly in this novel – lies in taking that Tolstoy maxim that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is
Linwood Barclay
This was the first Ross Macdonald novel I ever read, and it hooked me. I was 15 or 16, I think, when I found the Bantam paperback edition on the twirling paperback rack at the IGA grocery store in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. It was the blurb at the top, from William Goldman's NYTBR, that grabbed me: "The finest series of detective novels ever written by an American." I still think that's true.
Another in the superb series of detective stories by Ross Macdonald, and another in his endless yet endlessly entertaining and inventive looks at the dark secrets that tear families apart. Macdonald's P.I. Lew Archer in this one investigates the case of a troubled young man who may be linked to a murder which occurred when he was a little boy. Macdonald has a pragmatic yet quietly melancholic view of family, and in a sense most of his novels examine the same question: can the sins of the father ...more
Feb 08, 2015 Bob rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: mystery
All of the Lew Archer mysteries by Ross Macdonald are very good, and all but two or three are excellent. This one is in the top three of four, which means it is one of the best mystery novels ever written, and beyond that, it is an excellent novel, period.

As always with Lew Archer, there is practically no violence, no gore, no sensationalism. Instead it is well plotted, tight, and plausible. (I didn't say probable.) This one is quite complex, and probably not the first Lew Archer mystery to rea
Ken Kuhlken
Having read all Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novels, I can't remember being disappointed by any of them.

Lately I got the urge to lose myself in Lew Archer's world, which for the most part runs along the coast of southern California between the late '40s and the early '70s.

I found a deal on a hardcover of The Goodbye Look, the plot of which I only vaguely remembered. And now, more than ever, I agree with William Goldman, whose review of the novel included: "The finest series of detective novels e
This felt more complex, more evolved, more psychologically perceptive than any other hardboiled detective fiction I've ever read. I guess it didn't feel like a detective novel at all, a realisation that's easy to get confused with a sense of something lacking, if you're waiting for the usual genre furniture, the wise-cracking PI, the femme fatale, the gaudy poetic narrative voice, I guess all these things are present to a certain extent, it's just that they're not what this novel is about. It is ...more
To keep all the characters straight in my head I needed a program - or at least a trip to to build a family tree. It took more brain power that I was prepared for. Nonetheless, McDonald's Archer series is the model by which hard-boiled detective fiction is often measured, and for good reason. Straight-forward down-to-the-bone investigation; film-noir for the mind writing.
Srinivas Prasad Veeraraghavan
Another cracker from the MacDonald stable. The usual themes of ugly secrets, familial dysfunction and repressed guilt pervade the book with the quintessential intricate plotting that is vintage MacDonald.

Is this the best MacDonald book there is? Nope, that honour still lies with "The Chill" and the "Zebra-Striped Hearse" but this is still one helluva ride.
Ross MacDonald weaves plot-line baroquery into something staggeringly gorgeous. Not one character is ever introduced who is ever what they seem, no one is not connected. Lew Archer is a unique PI character--hard-boiled, yes, and ready with a dry quip, of course, but sensitive, bleeding for the pain of the world.
Saz Gee
I love Lew Archer books. They are so meticulously plotted and pacy but with the most wonderful languid, evocative descriptions. They have such a strong sense of mood and style. The world-weary, cynical but vulnerable detective is so my thing, and Archer is almost on a parr with Chandler's Marlowe. The stuff Macdonald does better is in his descriptions of places - so brooding and full of prophecy that you can almost hear ther heavy background music twisting your emotions as you read. His use of l ...more
Vicki Cline
I think that MacDonald's The Zebra-Striped Hearse was the first mystery novel I ever read. I found it in the library - must have been attracted by the strange name. Once I had read it, I was hooked on the author and read all his books. This is one of the later ones. Lew Archer, the detective, is somewhat jaded, but not totally cynical, and does care about his clients, especially the younger members of the family. In this case, he's hired by an attorney to investigate the theft of a gold box and ...more
While many contemporary mystery writers produce entertaining novels, I like to go back periodically to one of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer stories. To me Macdonald's narratives are more engaging than those by other pioneer detective writers, such as those featuring Hammett’s Continental Op or Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. Macdonald (a pseudonym for the Canadian Donald Millar, who grew up in Vancouver) engages our minds and our emotions with stories that reflect our society as well as show hu ...more
Read before so long ago that I didn't remember a single bit of it. Not surprising, since almost everybody in it is hiding a secret or a different name or both. This kind of hot mess is generally fun with Lew Archer's cool in the middle of it, but in this book there are just too many people and too much mess. Still, MacDonald's not as confused as Raymond Chandler, and Archer's a nice person to hang with.
Michael Flick
This is my second Lew Archer novel by Ross Macdonald. I didn’t care much for the first, “The Drowning Pool,” which was early Macdonald. This is late Macdonald and quite a bit better. The story is compelling, complicated, and the reader solves the mystery along with Archer. Nice.

I think I’m beginning to understand Archer, who is quite different from, say, Marlowe (or Spade). He’s kind of a cipher who gets out of the way of the story instead of being the story. He tells the reader here what drives
Ross MacDonald is one of the acknowledged masters of the Noir detective genre. This story, set in the stark landscape of Southern California in the late 1960’s, finds his man Lew Archer hired to investigate the simple burglary of a family heirloom. As Archer delves into events he begins to uncover the deep secrets of a wealthy family that involves insanity and multiple murders.

Unfortunately I found the characters other than Archer mostly uninteresting, and the story held various levels as intere
Rog Harrison
This is the fifteenth Lew Archer novel and it's the second time I have read it. This is a gripping story where hardly anything is as it seems but the ending though unexpected does make sense. Lew Archer is a great character and this book is one of the best in the series.
Patrick O'Neil
Drugs, revenge, insanity, and a twisting turning plot - Ross MacDonald was on when he wrote The Goodbye Look. Friends have recommended MacDonald and the one book I read prior to this I wasn't that impressed with. However MacDonald scored with this book.
Alex Bledsoe
This is a pretty somber Archer outing, with a series of interrelated pasts that grow almost too complex to keep track of. MacDonald pulls it together at the end, though, and it's ultimately a rewarding read.
The next best thing to Raymond Chandler. Should keep me busy for the next ten years.
Whereas the Martin Beck or Erast Fandorin series explore different kinds of crimes (or mystery genres), Macdonald explores a fairly small territory over and over: the exact details of the plot generally aren't the point with his books, at least for me. They're about immersing yourself in the milieu of postwar California and following the plot through its various twists and turns. A few details suggest that The Goodbye Look takes place in the late 60s, but the plot points back to events in the pe ...more
Lorraine Baker
Lew Archer, world-weary private investigator, is hired by Larry and Irene Chalmers when they suspect that their troubled son Nick is involved in their own burglary. But when a fellow investigator - one who's been working with Nick - turns up dead, Archer soon realizes this isn't simply about some stolen loot. To help their son, Archer must uncover the truth about a kidnap years ago, and discover why the handgun from a decades-old killing apparently turns up at every new and terrible murder.
A har
Definitely a great read. A must for any Ross Macdonald/Lew Archer fan.

Lew is hired to investigate a burglary. The suspicion immediately falls on the troubled son, Nick. As Lew investigates, he uncovers much more than a simple stolen jewelry box. Two families are intertwined, and multiple tragedies unfold. True to form, the plot takes some convoluted twists & turns (I had a little difficulty keeping some of the characters straight...who was related to whom, and that sort of thing.)

On a pers
Jeff Dickison
Good entry to the Lew Archer series is a complex psychological murder mystery that is difficult to follow sometimes, but comes together at the end. Archer is the perfect hard-boiled detective and is always fun to read. Recommended to mystery fans.
Below par. Formula run around. Standard cookie cutter characters; the irate fathers, the hot to trot wives. Q: Why hasn't it aged well like Agatha Christie? A: In the 60's I'm sure it had more shock value.
Past and present crime and evil intertwine like snakes in a complex plot. The perpetrators are nasty pieces of work with murky depths. Their behavior and lies give Lew Archer police harassment, headaches (not caused by concussions), and a slug in the shoulder. Macdonald's style is as minimalist as it can be without sacrificing characterization. However, the psychological beliefs and language date this book. Macdonald also never appears to have gotten away from the theme that family is the source ...more
Jess George
This old-fashioned mystery contains a preposterous story and great lines like "some wild things happen in the hobo jungle." It was a quick, enjoyable read.
Rob Smith
This is a good detective novel that has an ending that is hard to figure out. This is another Lew Archer round by the author who calls himself "MacDonald" (I recently leaned that none of the names he is printed with is his actual name). It seemed to me MacDonald worked a little too hard with the complexity of the story and had trouble getting it all to flow together. I believe that is why I had a bit of trouble following just who all the characters are in the book. Maybe that was his intent to m ...more
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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
  • Find a Victim
  • The Barbarous Coast
  • The Doomsters
  • The Galton Case
  • The Wycherly Woman
The Drowning Pool (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) The Chill The Galton Case The Moving Target The Way Some People Die

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“I have a secret passion for mercy. But justice is what keeps happening to people.” 3 likes
“I’ve spilled all my secrets. How do you make people do it?” “I don’t. People like to talk about what’s hurting them. It takes the edge off the pain sometimes.” 1 likes
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