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The Way Some People Die (Lew Archer #3)

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,411 Ratings  ·  88 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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May 14, 2015 Evgeny rated it really liked it
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
Bill  Kerwin
Nov 17, 2015 Bill Kerwin rated it really liked it

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
D. Pow
Jun 23, 2009 D. Pow rated it really liked it
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
Feb 27, 2012 Mohammed rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 09, 2011 Kirk rated it really liked it
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
Jul 31, 2015 Tfitoby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
The stand out point of the first five books in the Lew Archer series, loaded with hot dialogue, fantastic descriptive passages, an interesting and twisty central mystery and the moment when Lew becomes his own man and not just a caricature written in homage to Hammett and Chandler.

This little passage happens very early in proceedings and is a great example of the kind of level MacDonald is at throughout, reaching something approaching a noir poetry at times, "the giving and receiving of money, i
Jul 28, 2014 F.R. rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 06, 2012 Harry rated it really liked it
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'
Jul 31, 2009 Gabriel rated it liked it
Shelves: shadow-man
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
Apr 22, 2014 Bert rated it really liked it
Shelves: orgasmic
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
Jan 02, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
When I was a young man, I read almost all of Ross MacDonald's Archer books. For me, he was up there with Chandler and Hammett. I remember the front page New York Times Book Review of one of his novels which marked the arrival of crime fiction as a valid literary form (which it always was of course, but snobbish critics had kept it out of serious contention for years). But for some reason, he seemed to fade from the landscape as so many other mystery writers gained attention. Re-reading him now w ...more
3* Black Money
4* The Zebra-Striped Hearse
3* The Instant Enemy
3* The Way Some People Die
Christine Cody
Jul 13, 2015 Christine Cody rated it really liked it
Ross Macdonald's writing is so alive and luminous. Sometimes when reading his novels, I just stop reading so I can relish a phrase or a sentence. Of course, his characters are beautifully etched, his descriptions are flawless, and his plots keep me reading nonstop. But amid all this talent exists a man with a great love for words and, I believe, great fondness for his audience, because he kept us all so very satisfied... for a very long time. Sigh.
Jan 13, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
#3 in the Lew Archer series. Set in 1951 California, Archer sets out to find a girl who hasn't kept in touch with her mother. He finds that she was last seen with a hood, Joe Tarentine, who has plenty of the wrong people looking for him. Archer joins the search and finds that it involves drug running and gangsters much tougher than Joe.

Lew Archer series - In a rundown house in Santa Monica, Mrs. Samuel Lawrence places five reluctant tens on the table and asks Archer to find her wandering daughte
Ken Lindholm
Aug 29, 2015 Ken Lindholm rated it really liked it
I was not very familiar with Ross Macdonald's detective novels until I listened to a short review on NPR about the re-release of four of his books. Although he gained fame for writing the Lew Archer detective series, Macdonald was a very well educated author and it shows in his lean, precise prose in this well written book. I checked the library and Macdonald seems to have fallen out of favor with little available of his work. The Way Some People Die is the first of the re-released novels and wa ...more
Oct 30, 2015 Alex rated it it was amazing
When I finished this book, I was still "recovering" from the pace of the plot, the brilliance of the writing etc and was too doggone tired to give it justice by writing a review. Hastily, I gave it 4 stars.

A couple of weeks later, this book is still in my mind. I have to give it 5 :)

I can't believe I have been on this 3rd rock from the sun for 48 years and I haven't read any Ross Macdonald. That has changed now.

Awhile back I was interrogating my TBR pile, aka the spare bedroom, determined to dig
Oct 06, 2015 Iblena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Trasladando la acción de Santa Teresa a Pacific Point, la otra ciudad imaginaria creada por Macdonald, Lew Archer esta vez no trabaja para un acaudalado hombre de negocios, ni para una prominente familia sino para una viuda venida a menos quien le contrata para que localice a Gallery su joven hija que lleva un par de meses sin comunicarse con ella. Un trabajo rutinario que irá complicándose a medida que el investigador sigue los pasos de Gallery y que lo llevará a moverse en los bajos fondos cod ...more
Phillip Thurlby
Feb 10, 2015 Phillip Thurlby rated it really liked it
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
Jul 16, 2015 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
MacDonald's protagonist Lew Archer is hard-boiled perfection and his dialogue is certainly choice, but the story is surprisingly toothless and lacking in suspense. MacDonald is often regarded as the natural successor to Chandler and Hammett, but in this early volume, he doesn't distinguish himself enough. Look forward to reading more, though.
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
Feb 05, 2016 Bob rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
All of the Lew Archer mysteries by Ross Macdonald are very good, and all but two or three are excellent.

As always with Lew Archer, it is well plotted, tight, and plausible. There is little violence, at least in the twenty-first century sense. The earlier novels contain descriptions of people who have been beaten, and yes, people get shot. But there is never gore or sensationalism.

But beyond the mystery story aspects, no other mystery novelist that I am aware of has so many insightful observatio
Jul 09, 2014 Tony rated it really liked it
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
Mike MacDee
Jan 23, 2016 Mike MacDee rated it it was ok
I honestly can't distinguish one Ross Macdonald book from another by memory alone, whether I'd read them recently or years ago. I read close to a dozen of his books trying to figure out what people saw in him, and the best thing I could come up with was "people love soap operas". Every book blended together in a mishmash of tedium, and as soon as I finished any of them, I had already forgotten them. I couldn't tell you about this one even after reading the description.

I guess Macdonald deserves
Jul 29, 2014 Kenneth rated it really liked it
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
Mar 14, 2015 Seamus Thompson rated it liked it
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
Jan 08, 2016 Stuart rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
A good, perhaps classic hard-boiled American mystery by Ross MacDonald featuring Lew Archer. I used to buy these for my father 40 years ago, and never read them then. Now I see what I was missing The style is like Raymond Chandler - 1st person narration, with laconic, wisecracking descriptions, and fairly complicated layers-of-the-onion plot, nicely executed and tied up with a ribbon at the end. Here we start with Archer on what appears to be a missing person case, but which develops into a mult ...more
Oct 31, 2012 Joe rated it really liked it
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  Holm
Apr 12, 2011 Diane Holm rated it really liked it
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
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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

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“Tourists and transients lived in hotels and motels along the waterfront. Behind them a belt of slums lay ten blocks deep, where the darker half of the population lived and died. On the other side of the tracks - the tracks were there - the business section wore its old Spanish facades like icing on a stale cake.” 0 likes
“It was a small room, and it was as crowded with coffee- and end-tables, chairs and hassocks and bookcases, as a second-hand furniture store. The horizontal surfaces were littered with gewgaws, shells and framed photographs, vases and pincushions and doilies. If the lady had come down in the world, she'd brought a lot down with her. My sensation of stepping into the past was getting too strong for comfort. The half-armed chair closed on me like a hand.” 0 likes
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