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The Chill (Lew Archer #11)

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  1,984 ratings  ·  148 reviews
"The surprise with which a detective novel concludes should set up tragic vibrations which run backward through the entire structure," wrote Ross Macdonald in his 1981 Self-Portrait. Nowhere in his work does he better demonstrate this principle than in The Chill, first published in 1964. The plot is one of Macdonald's most masterfully constructed. Private detective Lew Arc ...more
Mass Market Paperback, N6792
Published 1971 by Bantam (first published 1963)
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A runaway bride became practically a cliché of romantic comedies:
A runaway bride
This time it is a little different: a young wife left her husband right during the first days of their honeymoon without any explanation. Before people start throwing around accusations of domestic abuse - which became another cliché lately - I need to say that no, the guy was nice to his spouse. Anyhow, the devastated guy literally stumbled upon Lew Archer who took pity of him and promised to take a look around trying to find the
Bill  Kerwin

Young Alex Kincaid wants Lew Archer to find his wife Dolly, who left in the middle of their honeymoon weekend. It seems a gray-bearded man visited her in their hotel room, and soon after she disappeared. It doesn't take Lew long to find Dolly, but by the time he does she is tangled up in two murders and mired even more deeply in the past.

This is one of Ross Macdonald's best dectective novels—perhaps the finest of all. The plot is extraordinarily complex, but never convoluted. The book is filled
This is, to put it bluntly, Macdonald at his peak. If you want to read one Macdonald book, this is it. (The Galton Case comes in second.)

There are some key similarities of theme with Zebra, which (notwithstanding the flaws I indicated in my review of that book) is excellent, and it would probably help to read Zebra before reading The Chill.

It has been said that late Archer is a therapist, with a priviate detective's licence. And it is Macdonald's skill to have been able to create plausibly, and

Ross Macdonald might write Chandleresque noir as good or better than Chandler. Some of the lines from 'The Chill' were so sharp they could cut a day into dark chocolate, bite-sized hours. 'The Chill' had a pretty good twist at the end. The only downside to the novel was it almost needed an overcoat with extra pockets for all the characters. By the end, I needed a small pocket book to keep all femme fatales and dead women straight.

Like most Macdonald novels, the dénouement of the Chill seems to
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
Getting the inevitable comparison out of the way, this is the second Ross MacDonald novel I've read and he does not come close to the soul Raymond Chandler poured into his novels. Not coming close to Chandler doesn't mean MacDonald is not any good, however. From what others write, The Chill is one of MacDonald's best, perhaps the best. While he does basically copy Chandler's form without being able to replicate Chandler's glorious intangibles, this is a damn good noir story in its own right. Yes ...more
Seamus Thompson

My favorite mystery novel.

Ross Macdonald writes in the noir/private eye tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett but there the resemblance ends. Chandler features a strong first-person narrator (Marlowe) and plots made up of well-crafted scenes (and many loose ends). Macdonald's narrator (Lew Archer) is a minor character who just happens to be in every scene and his plots are as clever and intricate as the best British mysteries. Where other crime writers in the gumshoe genre are obse
And now I understand why those more au fait than Ross McDonald than I, have been heartily recommending that I read ‘The Chill’.

This is one of the best detective novels I’ve read (and I really haven’t been a slouch at picking up detective novels). ‘The Chill’ is an absolutely superb mystery tale with real depth and a tonne of atmosphere. There is no higher praise from me than to say it is worthy of Raymond Chandler.
Archer is hired – almost as a spontaneous decision – by Alex Kincaid, a young man
This is, as of its reading, my favorite Macdonald novel. Better by leaps and bounds than the books that came before it, although I see that The Galton Case could have been the real breakthrough-- The Chill takes Macdonald's previous novel's sophisticated use of plot and character and turns them in on themselves.

The Chill is that rare "mystery" that does not violate Chandler's rule of the reader being privy to all of the information that the PI has, while still remaining a mystery to the end. Th
Benoit Lelievre
Some people are going to tear out my eyeballs for giving this one such a middling score, but please hear me out before you do. The plotting of THE CHILL is absolutely superb. The mystery is convoluted, wonderfully visceral and the cast is absurdly complicated, but in the best possible way. Somebody on Amazon called it 'Hitchcockian' and I would say it's absolutely right.



That dialogue, guys. It stunk. It was some of the most frustrating, cardboard dialogue stapled over
Ross MacDonald is, for me, the guy you keep on dating way too long because he's got lots of qualities that you value and you're convinced you should be really into him, but no matter how hard you try, despite the odd fun night or great conversation, that certain something just isn't there.

I'm not sure what the problem is. I like his California settings and, for the most part, his plots, and he does have some strong, interesting characters. While I almost like his preoccupation with the mental he
Pretty damn good! Taut, fast-paced, snappy dialogue, with wisecracks sometimes reminiscent of the 40s noirs, but still modern enough to make you mentally picture Paul Newman or Steve McQueen in the main role instead of Humphrey Bogart. The Dutch essayist Bas Heijne recently touted this as being 'better than Chandler and Hammet', and there's something to that. Chandler could be self-indulgent in his prose and messy in his plots, Hammet may have been important in the shaping of the hard-boiled det ...more
Lew Archer is a classic male detective; arrogant, dark, charming, and alcoholic. But there is a twist to this dick. He DOESN'T sleep with the girl! I was quite surprised, and it made me proud of this author. Unfortunately for the girl she is murdered that night, so having some law around may have helped a bit. There are a lot of characters to follow in this tale of murder and deceit, which is both confusing and fun. It's easy to follow Nancy Drew; there are only six characters in the book, one d ...more
Sep 29, 2011 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I don't have any pithy quotations to include in this review. I read this book expecting a really good read; I was very satisfied with the writing. This is ROSS MACDONALD we are talking about. The man has great ideas, descriptions, characters and motivations and this book has all of them.

Although I have now digested several of his novels and short fiction, I continue to be surprised and impressed. I couldn't see how this story was going to tie up all the loose plot lines, but I assure you it does
Sam Reaves
Ross Macdonald wrote some terrific books, and I would count myself a fan, but I do find that the quality varies a little. Some are just not quite as acutely observed, not as fully convincing; they just don't ring as true. Sometimes his ear failed him.
This one is on MWA's list of the hundred best mysteries ever, so I was prepared to be blown away; sadly I thought it was not one of Macdonald's best.
A young man just married after a whirlwind romance hires Archer to find his bride, who skipped out o
THE CHILL. Ross Macdonald. ****.
I read this the first time many, many years ago. Aside from the fact that I couldn’t remember much about the plot, I could remember having difficulty with the plot. This reading confirmed that the plot of this Lew Archer episode was one of the most complex he had ever written. It starts out simply enough: a young man approaches Archer with a problem – his wife has left him and disappeared. He wants Archer to find her and convince her to come back. Sounds simple. T
Oct 18, 2009 rabbitprincess rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Chandler and Hammett
Recommended to rabbitprincess by: Linwood Barclay (at least he recommended Macdonald in general)
A superbly well-written novel. The story starts off with private detective Lew Archer being engaged by one Alex Kincaid to track down his wife, Dolly, who has disappeared after the first day of their honeymoon. Normally Archer doesn't do simple domestic cases, but this case proves to be far from simple. The threads of the case extend 20 years into the past toward events that continue to have a significant impact on the present. The case takes Archer almost halfway across the United States and ba ...more
María I.
El escalofrío es una novela con una gran carga psicológica, que hunde sus raíces en el psicoanálisis sin máscaras ni evasivas. Archer va dejando de lado las armas de fuego y los puños para afilar sus preguntas, indagar con su mente, su presencia, su paciencia y su deseo de saber qué motiva a querer y a odiar. Sus inquietudes son universales, sus procedimientos no tanto: la búsqueda de la verdad le expone al dolor ajeno, al padecimiento fuerte y concluyente de algunos que atesoran secretos y mied ...more
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 five or six, 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, nothing lurid, 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 m
So what did I read to decompress from 26 Shamus entries? I thought a quality private eye book would be a good idea. In addition to freeing me up to enjoy P.I. fiction again, it would be a "control" of sorts, to tell me if I was too harsh on the bad Shamuses, or too forgiving of bad writers.

I chose The Chill, a 1964 novel by Ross MacDonald. For one thing, MacDonald is often considered the logical successor to my two favorite p.i. writers, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. For another, I've
There is something about Lew Archer's universe that always draws me in. I don't care much for his tough-guy approach to life, but the secondary characters, their lives, their environments, always interest me.

In this book Lew is hired to find Dolly, a girl who disappeared on her honeymoon, apparently after receiving a visit from an older man. Lew easily traces Dolly to the home of Mrs. Bradshaw, the mother of the local college dean. The old man turns out to be Dolly's father, n ex-con who, he mai
This is a well crafted mystery novel -- moves right along, providing most of the usual mystery-novel attractions: murders, a male detective, suspicious women who try to seduce him, booze, corrupt cops that are trying to close the case too quickly by pinning it on the wrong suspect, some currupt and elderly very rich people. As an entertainment, it was perfectly fine -- I was engaged and entertained, and couldn't wait to find out the identity of the killer. A page turner.

But on the basis of this
My second Ross Macdonald book, on the recommendation of a Goodreads friend. I thought my first one showed masterful control of a large cast, with a very complicated plot. But it was child's play compared to this one. And again, Macdonald kept it all very clear, played absolutely fair (I think), and, wow, I did not see the ending coming. I've read far too many murder mysteries, and this one, written a half-century ago, really entertained and surprised me.
Noir mysteries. I really like Lew Archer: the character's thought process, how he interviews people, the period and location these books are set - LA,Southern CA, post WW2 - boomtime, but not everybody is booming.
Sue Grafton says he has been a big influence on her writing, so if you like her, you'll Like Ross MacDonald. Not to be confused by the other Macdonald who wrote similarly during this time, with FL as his setting.
Dharia Scarab

Since I don't normally write reviews unless I have something specific to say, here's the break down of how I rate my books...

1 star... This book was bad, so bad I may have given up and skipped to the end. I will avoid this author like the plague in the future.

2 stars... This book was not very good, and I won't be reading any more from the author.

3 stars... This book was ok, but I won't go out of my way to read more, But if I find another book by the author for under a dollar I'd pick it up.

4 sta
Carla Remy
Another totally satisfying Ross Macdonald book. Many think he's a weaker imitation of Chandler, and obviously he was inspired, but - unpopular as this admission might be - at times I think I like Macdonald better. He's more subtle and he always has a stellar mystery.
Wow! What a story. If a detective story can get better than this I don't really see how. The twists and turns in this are so many, and red-herrings abound, only they don't seem like red-herrings, even afterwards. Amazing.
Nagesh Kumar C S
A First rate gripping mystery at once stunning and leaves you dazed in the last page..The Chill is easily one of the best thrillers of the century based on a private detective.

Ross is a fantastic thriller writer but he tries to portray most women charterers in various shades of grey, whether his personal opinion on or to throw us a red herring or two on the revelation, I am not sure.
Most women whom Lew archer sees in his books as adulterous or jealous or evil are described with words like "dingy
Doug Howgate
Hard to pick a favorite Macdonald, but this one is probably the most memorable.
Riju Ganguly
During one of my "I gotta read all this hard-boiled stuff" phases, I had come across Ross Macdonald, or more accurately, Lew Archer. Abe books had enabled me to access a dog-eared copy of "My Name is Archer" (o-o-p at that point), and it was love at first fight, erm... first story. Then, I simply HAD TO get hold of this novel, often touted as the best of Macdonald. I got it, read it, and still feel rather chilled as I think of those last few pages as the maze suddenly unraveled, and it seemed th ...more
Diego Paim
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Chapters 25-32 1 4 Sep 28, 2013 08:30PM  
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Chapters 9-16 1 3 Sep 28, 2013 08:28PM  
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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

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