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The Goodbye Look (Lew Archer #15)

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  848 Ratings  ·  54 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
Hardcover, Large Print, 320 pages
Published 2002 by G. K. Hall & Company (first published 1969)
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Jul 16, 2015 Evgeny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lew Archer was hired to investigate a burglary at a house of a rich family. Rich people always avoid bad publicity like plague, so he was supposed to be very discreet in his investigation. To give you an idea about the level of discretion he was hired by a wife through the family lawyer with the husband having no clue about this and Archer was to keep him this way. A dead body showed up soon with the murder weapon being the same gun as the one used fifteen years ago in another unsolved murder.
A sekleton with a gun
Bill  Kerwin
Jun 21, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Aug 18, 2009 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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,
Mar 23, 2016 F.R. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 22, 2009 Stephen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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,
Linwood Barclay
Dec 14, 2014 Linwood Barclay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Feb 08, 2015 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 18, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 03, 2014 Bert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Ken Kuhlken
Oct 19, 2012 Ken Kuhlken rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 04, 2013 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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.
Aug 04, 2008 Chadwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
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
Oct 11, 2014 Saz Gee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 02, 2013 Vicki Cline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: archer-mysteries
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
Jun 05, 2015 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-reread
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
Mar 03, 2014 Michael Flick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best
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
Apr 05, 2013 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 11, 2015 Carla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Superb plotting, and a fantastic baroque ending. Gobbled this up in a night.
Sep 14, 2015 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was tempted to give this one a slightly lower rating, if only because even though it has all the elements of a classic later Archer series book (old money California family with dark secrets, new murder that is precipitated by older crimes, generational and class strife, etc.), The Goodbye Look had less impact for me than some of the more noteworthy entries in the series, like The Chill or The Underground Man. But immediately after finishing this book I started reading another PI novel by a re ...more
Jul 21, 2015 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE GOODBYE LOOK. (1969). Ross Macdonald. ***1/2.
Once again, the author probes the events in the past that have shaped a crime in the present. It is obvious that Macdonald was interested in the effects of childhood trauma on present day action. This novel is no different. Two current murders are under investigation and seem to be related to a murder that occurred twenty years ago by an eight-year-old boy. There’s no question that his life was warped by that event, but did it turn him into an adu
Oct 22, 2015 Lars rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two stars for the story, four stars for the writing. I'd say that I am an attentive reader, but the case Lew Archer is handling here was just too much for me. As always in the novels of Ross MacDonald, a present crime traces back in the past, this time affecting three generations of two families, resulting in at least a dozen of more or less important characters, some of them having changed their name over time and so on. Maybe I would have catched the story if I read the book in one go. But wit ...more
Rog Harrison
Oct 23, 2013 Rog Harrison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 29, 2010 Patrick O'Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Carla Remy
Jul 19, 2012 Carla Remy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't love this as much as I love the other Ross Macdonald books I've read, which is utterly and completely. I found this harder to follow, but it could well have been me. The writing was still perfect.
Alex Bledsoe
Oct 21, 2008 Alex Bledsoe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Michael Bafford
I have no idea why I reserved this book at the local library! I must have read something somewhere that piqued my curiostiy. It may have been the connection to Raymond Chandler - one of my hearth gods, awhile back. Lew Archer is Marlows younger brother as MacDonald is Chandler's. The first person narrative, the setting, the cast of caracters - all could be by Chandler. The language is not up to his level, but the plot is even more convuluted and neat than Chandler ever managed.

I liked the chara
Dec 15, 2014 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The next best thing to Raymond Chandler. Should keep me busy for the next ten years.
Aug 03, 2013 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
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
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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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“I have a secret passion for mercy. But justice is what keeps happening to people.” 4 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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