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The Way Some People Die (Lew Archer #3)

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  1,248 ratings  ·  69 reviews
In a rundown house in Santa Monica, Mrs. Samuel Lawrence presses fifty crumpled bills into Lew Archer's hand and asks him to find her wandering daughter, Galatea. Described as ‘crazy for men’ and without discrimination, she was last seen driving off with small-time gangster Joe Tarantine, a hophead hood with a rep for violence. Archer traces the hidden trail from San Franc ...more
Paperback, Black Lizard, 245 pages
Published October 7th 2007 by Vintage Crime (first published June 1951)
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First let me show you an image to set the right mood for the review:
We are talking about noir:

It all seemed simple and cliche in the beginning. A woman hired Lew Archer to find her missing daughter who was old enough to take care of herself, but always visited her mother suddenly stopped doing so. Archer was somewhat reluctant to take the case, but feeling sympathy for the lonely woman he agreed. What did he get for fifty dollars?

Small-time gangsters, big-time gangsters I mean upstanding citize
D. Pow
I've never read this guy before today and that makes me sad. This is some of the finest crime fiction I've ever read and I wish I'd been reading him the last twenty years. It makes me sad that Ross Macdonald is practically forgotten now while crime-writers who couldn't carry his metaphorical jock strap are getting six figure Hollywood deals.

This book is crammed with murderous weirdos, sexy dames and gumshoe palaver. It's all delivered in a gorgeously lush, but never overdone, poetic style that
Bill  Kerwin

No sooner had Ross McDonald produced his first classic Archer novel ("The Drowning Pool"), steeped in ancient sins and family wounds, than he turned around and fashioned a completely conventional but equally effective private eye novel, filled with wandering daughters, vicious gunsels, flamboyant crime bosses, femme fatales, and Lew Archer too, thoroughly at home in the hard boiled environment.

The novel also contains some incidental cameos: a vibrant, garrulous old man on a porch, an alcoholic H
It's 1952, Hot Cakes. This thing called H---you know, horse; smack; skag; junk; the spike; flea powder; in my neighborhood we call it The Albino Chili Powder---it's rampant. Lowlifes seem to be waxing lowlifes over it. Because that's what lowlifes do. This old bag that's stuffier than a turkey's worth of Stouffer's calls in Archer to find her daughter. Chick's got an awesome name: Galatea. Galley for short. Because of her I named my daughter Kinesthesia---Kitchenette for short---but that's a who ...more
I think this novel is the best of the first three because Archer himself was the most interesting part of the novel. The detective story was calm,extremely well written. It was not predictable or tried too hard to be smart like some other PI stories. Archer didnt go from a wild scene to another. He just chased down the evidence with alot of legwork, smart thinking.

The most impressive part of the novel was how Ross Macdonald wrote intelligently about issues outside the PI story. Archer registered
This is a cracking mystery tale, full of great prose, cracking dialogue and memorable characters. Actually I’ll do better than that, every character in ‘The way Some People Die’ feels real and rounded, as if they could stride out of this book and carry a whole novel by themselves. It actually makes me feel bad about the innumerable thrillers I’ve read which just make do with stock, cardboard characters – like eating tofu when you know there’s steak in the world.

Archer is hired to locate a missin
Hallmarks of a good PI:

1. Has been disillusioned by past experiences in either the police force or the military (double points if he's been disillusioned by both).

2. Experiences hot flashes at the thought of meting out Justice (with a capital J), is wholly and unrepentently self-righteous, and yet can see more shades of gray than a color-blind sketch artist.

3. Speaks "Privatese," a language almost entirely composed of overblown similes and metaphors, and peppered with Class A reparte and banter.
Unlike the recent Thompson book The Grifters (set in the same time period and locations) which I found a bit too Dostoevsky-like, Ross MacDonald delivers well crafted, excellently plotted novels that leave one little to doubt as to the skill of this author. Many a writer of mystery/crime novels have MacDonald on their favorites reading list (I researched this, and in fact came to MacDonald because of this).

Unlike Burke who brings a certain sense of literature to his Robicheaux novels, MacDonald'
Macdonald drew many comparisons to Raymond Chandler, particularly early in his career (with the most dismissive coming from Chandler himself). Read this book and see why. Chandler tropes abound.

The Way Some People Die's language is impossibly ornate, the plot is firmly belted in in the back seat, and the women are uniformly unappealing (well, morally, anyway). Macdonald neatly reverses this formula (almost reverses it-- he still had some issues with women, but not nearly so many as Chandler) wi
3* Black Money
4* The Zebra-Striped Hearse
3* The Instant Enemy
3* The Way Some People Die
There's something about the way Ross Macdonald writes which seems effortless, it not only hooks you but it actually makes you forget you're reading a bunch of words, which is a properly lovely thing. Maybe it's because Lew Archer himself is such a blank slate, more of a jaded observer than the usual cynical wise-cracking bad-ass detective, that the deadbeats, hoods, boxers, ingenues, and hollywood losers that populate this novel get to play out their own fates without too much overshadowing or m ...more
Michel Harenczyk
Une série culte, c'est dans ce cas un bon vieux polar. Le privé solitaire, la belle jeune femme perdue, et une enquête bien ficelé ! Il y a tout cela dans ce bon roman. Le belle ne donne plus de nouvelles à sa maman, elle s'inquiète et appelle le détective... La chasse commence et les morts tombent.
Efficace et amusant
THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE. (1951). Ross Macdonald. ****.
It’s hard to believe that Lew Archer only charged his clients $50 per day. Of course this was in the early 1950s, and things were much cheaper. They sure got their money’s worth though. In this episode, a worried mother hired Archer to find her wayward daughter. The daughter’s real problem was that she was man crazy. She was also beautiful. The combination wreaked havoc with her life, especially when she kept getting involved with all the wro
Maybe not quite a 4-star read -- but that's only in relation to the other Ross Macdonald books I've read. This was, after all, only his 3rd Lew Archer novel and he would go on to write some of the most incredible hard-boiled fiction for the next 20 years. Still, although it may not reach the heights of some of his others, I really liked the way the plot of this one unfolded and eventually came together.

For the majority of the book, everything seems fairly straight-forward. Archer follows one lea
Seamus Thompson
Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer novels have been my comfort food for more than 20 years. Of the vintage hard-boiled detective writers he is the only one with the plotting skills of English mystery writers like Christie and Dorothy Sayers. Archer, with his scrupulous ethics and reluctance to use violence or pursue vengeance, is also a welcome departure from the Mike Hammer variety of private eye. Like most Archer fans I favor the 1960s-era novels but I occasionally like to re-read the earlier, more C ...more
Phillip Thurlby
Ross has produced some masterpieces and a couple of not so great works but that can be expected from the volume of his library. This title falls a little short of the masterpiece standard but is still very, very good.

The thing that shaves off that fifth star and masterpiece mantel is the conventional nature of the piece. Ross Macdonald is one of my top authors and all members thereof have distinct strengths, Parker is volume and wit, Thompson is psychological existentialism, Chandler is simply b
This is how you do plotting! Intricate, hard-nosed with precision that somehow seems reckless. I was reminded of "The Big Sleep" except this book made since. Not one wasted character. Not one coincidence that didn't make since in the long run. Macdonald earned every twist and turn and didn't once cheat the reader. That may seem like a little thing but it means a lot. Mystery is easy if you withhold critical pieces of information and make stuff up as you go. The truly great can fool you while put ...more
Diane A Brown
P.I. work can be challenging, but Lew Archer wasn’t prepared…

It all started out so simple, an over protective mother, looking for her adult missing daughter. She hadn’t heard from her for a few months and was truly distraught. It was obvious by her humble surroundings that she had little money and Archer didn’t want to work for free. He was reluctant to get involved, but Mrs. Lawrence was adamant and showed him a picture. Galley was her name and she was definitely a looker. He agreed to do a lit
Mariano Hortal
Publicado en

El género que, probablemente, más me gusta es la novela policíaca, en todas sus vertientes, que las hay variadas: desde la típica hardboiled en su parte más negra, pasando por las tradicionales policíacas de detectives o los thrillers, hasta llegar a los más conocidos mistery plays a lo detection club. También disfruto mucho del terror, la ciencia ficción, etc… pero sin duda, las primeras son a las que dedico más tiempo además de la novela más
Another Macdonald's masterpiece. Especially interesting and enjoyable to read since his style wasn't really polished and defined at this early stage of his career. But nevertheless it's simply brilliant and another timeless classic.

More here (review includes spoilers!):
The Way Some People Die is very much early MacDonald - a well-written, entertaining potboiler. Deep, literary masterpieces would come later in the series, from The Doomsters onward. So look there if that's what you're after. But T.W.S.P.D. is still a page turner, the perfect way to pass a long flight or a day at the DMV.
Ross Macdonald proves once again with this book why he was a master of this genre ranking right at the top of the list with Raymond Chandler. This is a great tale with witty dialogue and engaging characters. Although a typical story of a PI contracted to find a missing person and stumbling upon bodies along the way, the way it is told is what sets it aside.
Tom Stamper
Archer is hired to find an old lady's missing daughter and it takes him to Palm Springs and San Francisco. These tales feel ageless despite the references to World War II and automobiles. The only thing that seems unusual is that Archer never seems to be caught in the LA traffic.
Vintage Crime has been slowly reissuing Ross MacDonald's landmark Lew Archer crime series with stylish new covers, and I was thrilled to realize that I'd somehow never read this one. What's more exciting than finding a new book by a favorite author who's been dead for 25 years? This is an early one, from 1951, and in all fairness it felt a little jumpy and without the psychological depth that usually puts MacDonald at the top of the heap. Still, it's hardboiled and cold-blooded, and Archer chase ...more
Alfredo De villa
Slow going at first, but then nothing is what it seems and Lew Archer deals with fairly complex issues and characters. The characters are strong throughout, especially the lost girl Ruth.
Anna Eshelman
A complicated, yet interesting novel. If you're into hard-boiled detective fiction, try this book. It's very well written and definitely an engaging read.
Harry Connolly
I'm not used to being disappointed by Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer novels, but everyone gets the unexpected, I guess. It's still Macdonald--the characters are well-drawn and the mystery is fun. Unfortunately, the prose gets too purple here and there and Macdonald indulges in a little moralizing at the expense of his straw men... er, I mean "characters."

Not to mention that Archer himself is pretty off-balance here. He's vindictive and boastful in some places, which doesn't go well with the holier
Archer gets to tangle with the mob as well as with another femme fatale. Well written, well paced story with several twists and turns.
This Book was one of the most perfectly written Mystery's I have ever read. Full of twist and turns, interesting characters and page turning suspense.A++ for this Book !
This is absolutely brilliant writing and story telling. Noir crime a its best!
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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 Ivory Grin
  • Find a Victim
  • 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 Blue Hammer

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