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The Drowning Pool

(Lew Archer #2)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  4,878 ratings  ·  225 reviews
When a millionaire matriarch is found floating face down in the family pool, the prime suspects are her good-for-nothing son and his wife, who stand to inherit, as well as a questionable chauffeur and a tycoon of a company trying to get the woman's property for the oil under it. Private Investigator Lew Archer takes this case in the Los Angeles suburbs and encounters a mor ...more
Audio CD, Library edition, 0 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Blackstone Publishing (first published 1950)
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T. Sullivan John D. MacDonald is pretty good, similar private eye who thinks about life a lot. The private eye, Travis McGee, resides in Florida. There are 21 Tra…moreJohn D. MacDonald is pretty good, similar private eye who thinks about life a lot. The private eye, Travis McGee, resides in Florida. There are 21 Travis McGee novels; MacDonald has many other non McGee novels out there that are good.(less)
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Bill Kerwin
May 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is the second book in the Lew Archer series, and with it MacDonald has produced the first of his many first-class mysteries. Archer is hired to track down a writer of blackmail letters, but soon the waters become murkier: someone drowns in an actual pool, and Archer's investigation of the murder reveals how the survivors are caught in an undertow of family wounds and crime.

Archer shows us three effective portraits of women: an upper class lady who tightly controls her passions, her haunted,
This is a swimming pool:
Swimming Pool
What is it good for? You can use it to show your social status (I challenge anybody to find a mansion of a really rich person without one). You can drown the old ladies in one - the kind which everybody hates and who sits on piles of money her close relatives can really use. Finally you can just swim in there. Let us talk about the second case.

Lew Archer is a private detective who makes his humble living mostly collecting evidence for divorce cases. This time a frightened
Rebecca McNutt
The Drowning Pool is a book which I purposely bought because of the front cover artwork. I'm a sucker for retro-looking covers, and I don't know why but that mint green colour of old swimming pools is something I like for some reason. I really wanted the mint green hardcover with the fish on it, but it would cost me more that my tuition for a whole class just to get it. 😂 Turns out that The Drowning Pool is actually a riveting noir thriller that dives straight into (pun intended) the strange dep ...more
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017


The eyes were deep blue, with a sort of double vision. They saw you clearly, took you in completely, and at the same time looked beyond you. They had years to look back on, and more things to see in the years than a girl’s eyes had.

Eyes like a deep pool to lure gumshoe Lew Archer to the deep end and drown him. What could be more quintessential hardboiled that a beautiful woman walking into the rundown office of a small-time private investigator and asking for help? I’ve read dozens of no
Feb 09, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
An easy read, full of descriptions of seedy places and seedier goings on, Archer is always quick with a quip and a smart simile or metaphor but it all feels so perfunctory; twist here, contrivance there, two-faced dame, crooked police, lying client, woman in peril, a couple of thugs for the protagonist to beat up, corporate mogul villain, two separate plots tie magically together by the end. Not a classic by a mile.
Cathy DuPont
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m such a fan of hard-boiled; can’t seem to get enough of it. This is only my second Ross Macdonald and enjoyed it as much as the first. That translates to a lot, mucho, beaucoup, πολλά, multus, הרבה, viele!

It’s the writing, I know, so clean, sparse is the word I like to use. The dialogue is on target, always, the plot is such that the reader is never sure who the bad guys are since they keep flipping, excepting Lew Archer, P.I., of course, private investigator extraordinaire.

While other P.I.’
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Raymond Chandler enthusiasts
"Please don't be nasty, Archer. What's your first name, anyway?"

"Lew. You can call me Archer."

I think I enjoyed this novel even more than the previous Lew Archer entry, The Moving Target .
It starts out very slowly.
An attractive woman in her late 30's shows up at Archer's office. She's intercepted a threatening letter addressed to her husband alleging an extra-marital affair the woman, Maude Slocum, has
had with a male unknown.
Mrs. Slocum is reluctant to share much more information with Arche
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This started slow - took about a quarter of the book to get interesting, then slowed again for before taking off into a page turner. It had similar structure Archer #1 in that there was a wife who wanted a matter related to her husband investigated and there was a daughter who was entangled with the chauffer. The chauffer in Archer #1 happened to pilot planes. Things became more complicated with each murder. I don't often picture characters in roles but I visualized Lauren Bacall playing Mavis a ...more
Aug 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read the PI Lew Archer books since I was a kid. I recently saw (and enjoyed) the movie version of this one. Paul Newman who's called "Harper" plays Lew. So, I decided to read the book, which has parallels with the movie. At any rate, Lew in this outing is a more wistful, sad, and relentless character than I remember him as. There were points in the plot where I'd've just walked away from the whole deal. But Lew is a different kind of a guy. The Drowning Pool is a good, solid hardboiled re ...more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
This is the second novel by Ross Macdonald I've read and I'm not really impressed. He can write - there are some great descriptions, some witty observations and quips, even a few similes that aspire to Chandlerian status. But the plot is all over the place and I'm not sure the prose makes up for it as it does in Chandler's best novels. There's a lot of woman-hating dressed up as condescending chivalry and Macdonald's depiction of a pair of crypto-gays (he never comes right out and says that's wh ...more
Anthony Vacca
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A definite improvement over The Moving Target, this second Lew Archer outing has all the hallmarks of a quality PI mystery: blackmail, a dysfunctional family with money and a lifetime of grudges against one another, murder, gangsters, a femme fatale, corporate greed, a dubious doctor, dirty cops, bludgeonings and druggings, and a daisy-chain of hidden motives, buried secrets and tragic misunderstandings leading to an inevitable outcome where no one is innocent and the guilty are only all too hum ...more
Ed [Redacted]
Another good, very good in fact, novel from Macdonald. About equal in quality with The Moving Target. The plotting is adequate, the story moves along nicely. Good dialog, etc. etc. The best thing about the first two novels is the character of Lew Archer. Archer is the epitome of the hard boiled, tough talking, wise cracking private detective. For an example, I will turn to a page randomly for a wisecrack*.

Archer, upon confronting someone he had shot in one arm earlier in the book, "I swung the
Andrew Caldwell
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed Lew Archer. He reminded me somewhat of Philip Marlow in voice and character. Though much kinder and more altruistic.

There are some incredibly rich scenes in this novel, that I enjoyed. Particularly those when Archer battles with his nature and his morals. The temptation of Acapulco and Mavis, and the touching gift to Gretchen were stand out moments of writing to me. I enjoyed Ross' writing, in fairness it is not as metaphor rich as Chandler's first, but is still first class. Ch
Dec 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m still fairly new to the world of Ross Macdonald and Lew Archer, but I’ve greatly enjoyed what I’ve read so far. This one starts with poison-pen letters and speeds quickly to dead bodies, femme fatales and gangsters. Of course, this being Macdonald, there’s a lot more psychological insight than one would normally find in this type of thriller. Pacy, well plotted with great descriptions and synonyms, this book is up there with Chandler – and, in my world, there’s no higher praise than that.
Nancy Oakes
Maybe a 3.75 on this one. The Drowning Pool is Ross Macdonald's second book in his Lew Archer series, but it's my first foray into this author's work. After this book, I think that Archer is a guy I will enjoy reading more about. With eighteen series novels and two short story collections, there's a lot about this world-weary gumshoe to explore.

Lew Archer is called upon to investigate an anonymous poison pen letter sent to his client, Maude Slocum. Maude's beyond worried about her mother-in-law,
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
More Ross Macdonald. More Lew Archer. More great American crime/detective writing.

I've read three novels and a collection of short fiction my Mr. Macdonald (nee' Kenneth Millar) now and I remain impressed. I'm still shocked that I had been unaware of this author (except for one excellent short story) for so long - thank you Goodreads! Whether he is writing in s style that reminds one of Dashiell Hammet (some of the early short fiction) or in his fully-developed style of later years, he is an exc
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: noir
"I felt like a lonely cat, an aging tom ridden by obscure rage, looking for torn-ear trouble. I clipped that pitch off short & threw it away. Night streets were my territory, and would be till I rolled in the last gutter."

Another excellent Lew Archer novel.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2nd in the rather magnificent Lew Archer series. He is hired by a woman who has received a libellous letter, as with many of the Archer books, family relationships loom large.
The second of Ross Macdonald's full-length novels about the adventures of private eye Lew Archer - think a more introverted version of Philip Marlowe and you're not far off - sees him journeying to a Southern Californian resort town going through an urban renewal financed by a local oil baron. The story's main conflict revolves around a series of blackmail letters and mysterious deaths afflicting a dispossessed upper-class family that happens to oppose said renewal as a consequence of old money ...more
This series is becoming better and better...

4* The Moving Target (Lew Archer #1)
4* The Drowning Pool (Lew Archer #2)
3* The Way Some People Die (Lew Archer #3)
4* The Zebra-Striped Hearse (Lew Archer #10)
3* Black Money (Lew Archer #13)
3* The Instant Enemy (Lew Archer #14)
TR The Ivory Grin (Lew Archer #4)
TR Find a Victim (Lew Archer #5)
TR The Barbarous Coast (Lew Archer #6)
TR The Doomsters (Lew Archer #7)
TR The Galton Case (Lew Archer #8)
TR The Wycherly Woman (Lew Archer #9)
TR The Chill (Lew Arche
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'
Ben Winch
I can see why this is a classic – on the level of craft it’s quite formidable – but it just didn’t sock me in the guts like Goodis or Thompson, and its debt to Chandler is a little too obvious. Still, I’ll bet Macdonald’s dependable: I’ve only read one other Archer novel but it was much like this one, dull and brilliant in equal measure, and so smooth I slid to its end without pause. In places, true, he overplays his hand, gets a little too poetic and lapses out of character, but when he gets it ...more
Mark Walker
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first it feels very like Chandler and Hammett - the tradition it comes from. But the reader soon begins to notice the more modern approach. This comes across partly from the acerbic musings of Archer, but also as the book develops into a broader portrayal of the disconnected society which contains the naive down at heels with dreams and no real hope - but alongside the well heeled isolated and unhappy people who the down at heels aspire to be. The more you read the more you see how this autho ...more
Victoria Mixon
Mystery writer Ross Macdonald was the husband of mystery writer Margaret Millar, which automatically makes their household my dream household. And I've read and liked Macdonald's The Undeground Man.

But I'm afraid The Drowning Pool doesn't measure up. For all the great potential tension in unexplained secret relationships, the father-who's-not-a-father (that "secret" isn't really a secret), not to mention that wonderful ancient hacienda, there's too many weaknesses in this one for a pro: too much
Before I tried Ross Macdonald's writing I'd become a major fan of his wife, Canadian mystery writer Margaret Millar's books. At one point, I decided it was only fair to try MacDonald's books as well. The first Lew Archer book I read was The Archer Files, a collection of short stories featuring his noir PI, Lew Archer. That hooked me on his books as well.

The Drowning Pool, published originally in 1950, was the 2nd Lew Archer book. It was later turned into a movie starring Paul Newman. Archer is h
COUNTDOWN:: Mid-20th Century North American Crime
BOOK 82 (of 250)
Hook=2 stars: "If you didn't look at her face she was less than 30, quick-bodied and slim as a girl" opens the book. This standard opening with the description of a woman has become stale, within the crime genre, by 1950.
Pace=3: "Fast Moving" says the NY Times Book Review. Yes, an extent. There is a mid-point switch to new characters and a new location which threw me for a loop momentarily and caused me to check out o
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I believe that there are few genres as inherently entertaining to read as well written pulp fiction. The Drowning Pool reiterates my conviction. Decadent dames with their promises of seedy sex, compromised cops battling their muddled morals and filthy rich families weaving webs of deceit and hatred for each other. And that is just appetizers, the narrative also serves up a healthy dose of blackmail, murder, lynching, whiffs of closeted homosexuality and hints of incest. The players are well know ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A distressed woman walks into a hard boiled private eye's office. The rest you know and it rattles on in a pleasingly cynical with a heart of gold way. I prefer Hammet and Chandler, but they only wrote so many books so for those like me who are looking for substitutes this delivers.
Phillip Thurlby
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Classic Crime
For me, as should be the case for all crime writers and readers, I use the holy grail that is Raymond Chandler as a measure of an Author's quality.

This is unfair for most authors as the quality that Chandler created in his Marlowe Mysteries is something beyond the reaches of much less than a deity. However, one of the closest contenders is Ross MacDonald.

I first read this book when I was in University and I will admit that its brilliance escaped me at the time. I knew it was good, but I could no
M.L. Rudolph
Nov 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: who-done-ems
1950. Maude Slocum opens this tale at the doorway to Lew Archer's office. "Thirty-five and still in the running," the detective surmises. Maude is scared. She's intercepted a letter to her husband calling him a cuckold. Who would send such a letter and why? She hires Archer to find out.

Archer drives north of LA to the fictitious community of Quinto, next to the oil town of Nopal, where the Slocums live on property awash in oil. Slocum's mother-in-law refuses to let the big oil company ruin her l
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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,

Other books in the series

Lew Archer (1 - 10 of 20 books)
  • The Name Is Archer
  • The Moving Target (Lew Archer #1)
  • The Way Some People Die
  • The Ivory Grin (Lew Archer #4)
  • Find a Victim
  • The Barbarous Coast
  • The Doomsters
  • The Galton Case
  • The Wycherly Woman
  • The Zebra-Striped Hearse

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