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The Chill

(Lew Archer #11)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  3,402 ratings  ·  281 reviews
Lew Archer knew he shouldn't have taken the case, but Alex Kincaid seemed so desperate. Kincaid's loving new bride Dolly had just inexplicably walked out on him, leaving Kincaid more than a little fearful for her sanity--and her safety. So Archer reluctantly agreed to help Kincaid find her. But what he found instead was enough to send a chill down anyone's spine--a new fre ...more
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Published June 1st 2010 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published 1963)
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  3,402 ratings  ·  281 reviews

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Bill Kerwin
May 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Young Alex Kincaid wants Lew Archer to find his wife Dolly, who left in the middle of their honeymoon weekend. It seems a gray-bearded man visited her in their hotel room, and soon after she disappeared. It doesn't take Lew long to find Dolly, but by the time he does she is tangled up in two murders and mired even more deeply in the past.

This is one of Ross Macdonald's best dectective novels—perhaps the finest of all. The plot is extraordinarily complex, but never convoluted. The book is filled
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A runaway bride became practically a cliché of romantic comedies:
A runaway bride
This time it is a little different: a young wife left her husband right during the first days of their honeymoon without any explanation. Before people start throwing around accusations of domestic abuse - which became another cliché lately - I need to say that no, the guy was nice to his spouse. Anyhow, the devastated guy literally stumbled upon Lew Archer who took pity of him and promised to take a look around trying to find the
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Looking for someone?" - predatory Professor Helen Haggerty
"Just waiting." - Lew Archer, hardboiled private investigator
"For Lefty or Godot? It makes a difference." - Haggerty
"For Lefty Godot. The pitcher." - Archer
"The 'pitcher in the rye'?" - Haggerty
"He prefers bourbon." - Archer
"So do I. You sound anti-intellectual to me, Mr. -- ?" - Haggerty
"Archer. Didn't I pass the test?" - Archer
"It depends on who does the grading." - Haggerty
"I've been thinking maybe I ought to go back to school." - Ar
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
“Some men spend their lives looking for ways to punish themselves for having been born.”
― Ross Macdonald, The Chill


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
Carla Remy
Nov 2019:
This book has a terrific mystery plot. I remembered the ending, the solution to the crime, so it was interesting to read it again. It is unusual for me to remember Ross Macdonald books actually. I have a theory, which may be true, that these Lew Archer mysteries are so very good, so smooth and delicious, it is impossible not to read them so fast they don't stay in your mind after. Anyway, definitely worth reading again.

Dec 2011:
Another totally satisfying Ross Macdonald book. Many think
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lew Archer enthusiasts - if you've read every entry up to #11, you have to read this
Recommended to Still by: I can't recall

"You look tired, Lew. But you do exist."

The 11th Lew Archer.
Some aesthetes were riffing on Ross Macdonald this morning on another site.

Quoted Westlake's dismissal -"this guy must have bought carbon paper by the pound..." know, because all of his books in the series seem to have plots that are a mite redundant.

I could give a rat's ass.

They entertain me and it's so easy to dismiss the "Lew Archer" series for being apparently repetitive.
I can't argue for the defense.
I love every no
Jul 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
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
Seamus Thompson
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

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
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Eldonfoil TH*E Whatever Champion
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
May 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"You think I'm an alcoholic or something?"
"I think you're a bundle of nerves. Pour alcohol on a bundle of nerves and it generally turns into a can of worms. While I'm making suggestions you might as well get rid of those chips you're wearing on both shoulders. Somebody's liable to knock them off and take a piece of you with them."

"I drove downhill through deepening twilight toward the Mariner's Rest Motel, telling myself in various tones of voice that I had done the right thing. The trouble was,
Jun 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shadow-man
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
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detailed-review
In my review of Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss, I created the thesis that detective noir are, fundamentally, masculine romances. That is, they explore gender relations in the context of violence [I have a much more detailed discussion in the review]. And so far every noir I’ve read has seemed to fit this definition. Almost disappointingly so, for much of the magic has been lost now that I understand how the trick works. Still, the idea of a noir as a ‘masculine romance’ is rather helpful in evalua ...more
Mar 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
... wow. Page after page linear story, verbose, dead dialogue and shallow characters. I'm done.


I was having trouble remembering "The Chill" when challenged by a friend. I see I reviewed and rated it in March, but apparently I did not finish it. It looks like I read at least 10%.

*checks and reads back*

Yes, the first 12% of the book is horrifically verbose and dull. Stilted clichéd dialogue, sometimes smart-alec but without being snappy, reads like a laundry list.

Ponderous. Perhaps it pic
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
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot to like about this noir detective classic. Masterfully developed characters, excellent pacing and structure, and the plot is oh so brilliantly juicy. Intricate, yet tightly woven. There's never a dull moment as Archer works tirelessly to piece together the ever expanding puzzle of what at first appears to be a simple case of a missing bride and slowly develops into an intricate web of murders spanning decades, with a host of fraught family relationships and some chilling skeletons ...more
Sep 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, owned
Excellent example of the gumshoe style of mystery. One aspect that I particularly like is the fact that the book is focused entirely on the mystery - no long passages about the detective's personal problems. I don't mean to imply that Lew Archer is one-dimensional but that he is a man who focuses on the job. This had plenty of twists and surprises but none that the author 'cheats' with - the reader learns about them when Archer does.
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic noir tale of murder in 1960's Los Angeles. PI Lew Archer is methodical and relentless in his pursuit of answers for his young bridegroom client. Thanks Billy Baer for the book and recommendation!
Jeff Jackson
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent hardboiled detective story in the vein of Chandler and Hammett and an exploration of festering secrets and compounding li(v)es. Plus it's one of the most intricately plotted mysteries I've read - plausible tension that lasts until the final paragraphs.
4.5 stars
For a crime mystery to be written over 50 years ago and still pack a punch, it has to be good. And this one was very good. Three murders over 20 years, a cast of potential suspects (maybe too many characters), great descriptions of people, a lead character who is on every page but does not dominate the story and a series of twists right up to the last paragraph. Maybe the dialogue was a bit dull and circular at times but overall I was impressed with my first Ross Macdonald book.
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
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Noir lovers craving a great mystery/thriller.
Mid-20th Century North American Crime Readathon
I have about a dozen books from my readathon I'm reading a 2nd time: are they as sensational as I originally thought?
HOOK - 5 stars: An opening in court. Mrs. Perrine is on trial. Archer is the final person to take the stand. He studies the courtroom, ready to move on to his next case. But this one isn't over. Perrine: innocent or guilty? Archer: involvement? He plays both sides, after all. And the jurors are puzzled. Archer leaves the stand and is
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much cookie cutter but like a cool dinosaur shaped cookie cutter rather than just a plain round one.
Jun 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, noir
Lew Archer is the PI hired to located a newly married bride who disappeared from her honeymoon suite. This leads Archer to stumble onto a professor's murder, which in turn helps him to uncover over two decades of duplicity, covert deceptions, and deflection. And what a twist! One I didn't see coming until several pages from the end.

This novel was about the devastating affects of corruption and the arrogance of entitlement that swept through the lives of several innocent people whom were either u
Benoit Lelièvre
Some people are going to tear out my eyeballs for giving this one such a middling score, but please hear me out before you do. The plotting of THE CHILL is absolutely superb. The mystery is convoluted, wonderfully visceral and the cast is absurdly complicated, but in the best possible way. Somebody on Amazon called it 'Hitchcockian' and I would say it's absolutely right.



That dialogue, guys. It stunk. It was some of the most frustrating, cardboard dialogue stapled over
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Riju Ganguly
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
During one of my "I gotta read all this hard-boiled stuff" phases, I had come across Ross Macdonald, or more accurately, Lew Archer. Abe books had enabled me to access a dog-eared copy of "My Name is Archer" (o-o-p at that point), and it was love at first fight, erm... first story. Then, I simply HAD TO get hold of this novel, often touted as the best of Macdonald. I got it, read it, and still feel rather chilled as I think of those last few pages as the maze suddenly unraveled, and it seemed th ...more
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh my, what a great plot, and such terrifying older women. Twist after twist, byzantine-- I loved it.
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-reads
Ed Brubaker, author of some brilliant comic books including "Criminal", "The Fade Out", and "Kill or Be Killed," recommended this book. It's my first experience of Ross Macdonald's 'Lew Archer' series and I've read that this is one of the best.

It's a masterful example of hardboiled crime fiction with line after line of quotable prose. Not a light read, it's a book where you need to pay close attention to the twisting plot. I regret not taking notes whilst reading it because there are a lot of c
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Lew Archer series: which are best? 1 1 Aug 01, 2020 12:09PM  
Chapters 25-32 1 8 Sep 28, 2013 08:30PM  
Chapters 17-24 1 2 Sep 28, 2013 08:28PM  

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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 Drowning Pool (Lew Archer #2)
  • The Way Some People Die
  • The Ivory Grin (Lew Archer #4)
  • Find a Victim
  • The Barbarous Coast
  • The Doomsters
  • The Galton Case
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