The Chill
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The Chill (Lew Archer #11)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,505 ratings  ·  122 reviews
In The Chill a distraught young man hires Archer to track down his runaway bride. But no sooner has he found Dolly Kincaid than Archer finds himself entangled in two murders, one twenty years old, the other so recent that the blood is still wet. What ensues is a detective novel of nerve-racking suspense, desperately believable characters, and one of the most intricate plot...more
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Published December 22nd 2010 by Vintage (first published 1963)
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AC
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...more
Robert Farwell
noir

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...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...more
Timmy
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
F.R.
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...more
Jessica
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...more
Gabriel
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...more
Frank
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
rabbitprincess
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
Carla
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
Mike
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...more
Harley
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...more
Tony
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...more
Ann
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...more
Supineny
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...more
Joni
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.
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.
Doug Howgate
Hard to pick a favorite Macdonald, but this one is probably the most memorable.
Jeff
Every now and then I have the urge to read a so-called "detective" novel. Ross MacDonald, who lived for many years in Santa Barbara, is one of the most highly acclaimed authors in the genre. I can't say I was too caught up in the plot of this book. The writing is just so-so, the dialogue not very authentic, and though the denouement was somewhat of a surprise, it didn't have any shock value, and didn't make up for what I consider a weak effort. To be fair, I'm not an avid reader of this genre.
Jeff
Ross Macdonald was an organizational man among the last generation of University writers who could convince themselves that they hated organizational men. Macdonald's detective fiction presents itself as a series of conversations, sixty or a hundred in number, organized around a narrative point of view, here that of the detective Lew Archer, who instigates the conversations, with one or two persons, each investigation across three states (southern California, Reno, Nevada, and "Bridgeport" Illin...more
Lars
'The Chill' was the first book of Ross MacDonald I read. MacDonald is regarded as one of the classic hardboiled crime-writers among Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. It is said that the author focusses mainly on the relationship between the characters and not on the private investigator himself. That's certainly true, even if the PI, Lew Archer, changes quite a lot during the course of events. At first, he seems to be neutral and withdrawn, but later he cleary shows where his sympathies lie...more
Michael Emond
This is hailed as one of the best examples of noir detective fiction, and while I am not sure what that means I will define it as a detective (Lew Archer in this case) who is a hard working private eye (i.e. does it for the money) who cracks open a case that the law can't. For the first half of the book it took me a lot of effort to pick the book up and continue, the mystery wasn't that compelling and the characters (including Archer) weren't that interesting. Alex Kincaid hires Archer to try to...more
Jay
Ross Macdonald pulled it all together for this one. It has plot, character, scene and dialogue. For each of these elements, he does it but doesn't overdo it.

I don't know whether it is the best noir novel since Chandler et al. but it would be on a very short list for consideration. I had read some Macdonald before this and had a good opinion of him but this steps everything up several notches.

My favorite quote, near the beginning of Chapter 14: "Kincaid was a frightened man who valued his statu...more
Lance Charnes
Apr 15, 2012 Lance Charnes rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of the hardboiled PI or Los Angeles noir
Ross Macdonald is often called the successor to Raymond Chandler in the world of American private-eye noir, and The Chill makes a good if not compelling case for this assertion. Lew Archer, Macdonald's knight in tarnished armor, is Philip Marlowe's somewhat more sensitive brother, although in this mid-career work the difference between the two is one of degrees. The two certainly have more things in common than they do differences.

The milieu for this tale -- King Beach, a fictional California co...more
Michael
I picked up Macdonald's The Chill based on a review in Harper's Magazine by the ever curmudgeonly John Leonard. He didn't actually review this book. Good thing, he'd have come a little late on this book, published in 1964. Anyway, Leonard mentioned it fleetingly in his review of a new biography of Dashiell Hammett, The Long Embrace.

In any case, due to the Harper's blurb I was expecting a masterpiece of literary crime fiction. What I got was another rather generic Hammett-or-Chandler-esque bit of...more
David Schlosser
I'm not in love with Ross Macdonald, but I think it's important to read his work to understand how so many conventions of mystery stories arose. The Chill is a great example of the hard-bitten PI confronting people (mainly women) behaving in odd and irrational ways because of prior emotional trauma. Macdonald is an engaging author, and his protagonist's perspective on the world around him always make for an interesting read. The plot is shaggy but not complex, and anyone looking for a quick read...more
Professor
My first Archer book. I liked it quite a bit-a quick, fun and engaging mystery-though I missed the wit of Chandler in the few attempts at rapid fire dialogue exchanges. I think this is the most recently published detective novel I've ever read and it's interesting to see how the form and style changed with the times.
Howard Shrier
One of my favourite Ross Macdonald novels, and that is saying a lot because he was my first great crime-writer crush. This one weaves so many of his themes together -- people in the present haunted by crimes in the past -- and it barrels toward a conclusion that should indeed leave you with a chill.
CT
While "The Chill" eventually comes together in the end, this was one mystery where I had to trust the reputation of the author. What starts out as a missing woman's case unravels to reveal three murders separated by decades. There’s no reason why two of the older murders might be connected to the present case, but P.I. Lew Archer has a hunch.

Even though I liked Archer’s doggedness and questioning style, it was very difficult to keep track of the multitude of names in the story. I also expected...more
George Matusek
This 1963 masterpiece is my all-time favorite mystery novel. Not only is the mystery plot first-rate with an astonishing twist at the end, but the book stands as an example of an excellent literary novel regardless of its mystery plot. It is one of three novels that Macdonald wrote based on classic Greek tragedies --- you'll know which one when you get to the end of this fine work --- the end achieves a catharsis in the classic sense. Ross Macdonald had a dismal childhood --- he was passed aroun...more
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  • Nightfall
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  • Playback
  • The Real Cool Killers (Harlem Cycle, #2)
  • The Wrong Case
  • The Fabulous Clipjoint
  • The Two Faces of January
  • The Nothing Man
  • A Deadly Shade of Gold (Travis McGee #5)
  • Night Has a Thousand Eyes
  • Die a Little
  • The Friends of Eddie Coyle
  • The Big Clock
  • I, the Jury
70090
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
More about Ross Macdonald...
The Drowning Pool (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) The Galton Case The Moving Target The Way Some People Die The Blue Hammer

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