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The Goodbye Look (Lew Archer #15)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,004 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews
In The Goodbye Look, Lew Archer is hired to investigate a burglary at the mission-style mansion of Irene and Larry Chalmers. The prime suspect, their son Nick, has a talent for disappearing, and the Chalmerses are a family with money and memories to burn. As Archer zeros in on Nick, he discovers a troubled blonde, a stash of wartime letters, a mysterious hobo. Then a stiff ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 5th 2000 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1969)
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Jul 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Lew Archer was hired to investigate a burglary at a house of a rich family. Rich people always avoid bad publicity like plague, so he was supposed to be very discreet in his investigation. To give you an idea about the level of discretion he was hired by a wife through the family lawyer with the husband having no clue about this and Archer was to keep him this way. A dead body showed up soon with the murder weapon being the same gun as the one used fifteen years ago in another unsolved murder.
A sekleton with a gun
Bill  Kerwin
May 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

The classic Ross MacDonald plot: a revolver used in a recent murder is found to be connected to a fifteen-year old homicide, and suspicions swirl around a young person so emotionally scarred by the past that he is convinced he must be guilty of something. (As one of the characters says, "My whole time here, it's been like living in a haunted house." In the Ross McDonald world, she could be speaking about all of us, every single human life.)

Once again the sins of the fathers are visited upon the
Bobby Underwood
Oct 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
“The Archer novels are about various kinds of brokenness. I wanted to write as well as I possibly could to deal with life-and-death problems in contemporary society. And the form of Wilkie Collins and Graham Greene, of Hammett and Chandler, seemed to offer me all the rope I would ever need.”

Returning to this book after many years, the reader can clearly see Macdonald has become a novelist simply using the genre as a means to an end. He wrote about broken people in need of mending, and perhaps me
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Jessica by: donald
Picture Chandler built with much rougher gin, and not one drop of a vermouth -- not even a vapor.

And no ice.

Picture a room temperature glass of middling gin when what you're after's a martini, and that's sort of what reading this book was like for me.

I don't know, if I could give it an extra half-star I would. MAN, I hate the star system! It just makes me NUTS! To be fair, I'll disclose, I did tear through this book all in a day. I spent an hour with it last night in the heat on my fire escape,
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Until now I’ve only read two Archer novels (curiously, and coincidentally, the two Paul Newman turned into films) and though I enjoyed them, they didn’t make me whoop with joy. I liked them, thought they had good points, but haven’t rushed on to check out the others.

Having read ‘The Goodbye Look’ I now understand why his fans hold him such high regard. MacDonald’s brilliance – certainly in this novel – lies in taking that Tolstoy maxim that “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is
Oct 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Stephen by: Eric_W
Shelves: mystery
If you want to talk about pure story telling, Ross MacDonald is the man. I hadn't read any early MacDonald, only his later works. [Book:The Goodbye Look] was a revelation to me. For the first time in my reading of mysteries, and that includes old 1920s up to the present day, did a book resolve itself strictly by the reasoning skill, and investigative talents of the main character.

Lew Archer is a wonderful character who not only is a Private Investigator, he is humane, intelligent, compassionate,
Feb 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
All of the Lew Archer mysteries by Ross Macdonald are very good, and all but two or three are excellent. This one is in the top three of four, which means it is one of the best mystery novels ever written, and beyond that, it is an excellent novel, period.

As always with Lew Archer, there is practically no violence, no gore, no sensationalism. Instead it is well plotted, tight, and plausible. (I didn't say probable.) This one is quite complex, and probably not the first Lew Archer mystery to rea
Linwood Barclay
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was the first Ross Macdonald novel I ever read, and it hooked me. I was 15 or 16, I think, when I found the Bantam paperback edition on the twirling paperback rack at the IGA grocery store in Bobcaygeon, Ontario. It was the blurb at the top, from William Goldman's NYTBR, that grabbed me: "The finest series of detective novels ever written by an American." I still think that's true.
Carla Remy
Jul 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I didn't love this as much as I love the other Ross Macdonald books I've read, which is utterly and completely. I found this harder to follow, but it could well have been me. The writing was still perfect.
Jan 12, 2008 rated it really liked it
Another in the superb series of detective stories by Ross Macdonald, and another in his endless yet endlessly entertaining and inventive looks at the dark secrets that tear families apart. Macdonald's P.I. Lew Archer in this one investigates the case of a troubled young man who may be linked to a murder which occurred when he was a little boy. Macdonald has a pragmatic yet quietly melancholic view of family, and in a sense most of his novels examine the same question: can the sins of the father ...more
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This felt more complex, more evolved, more psychologically perceptive than any other hardboiled detective fiction I've ever read. I guess it didn't feel like a detective novel at all, a realisation that's easy to get confused with a sense of something lacking, if you're waiting for the usual genre furniture, the wise-cracking PI, the femme fatale, the gaudy poetic narrative voice, I guess all these things are present to a certain extent, it's just that they're not what this novel is about. It is ...more
Anthony Vacca
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An ornate chest burgled along with the wartime letters it contained, an unsolved John Doe found in a hobo jungle fifteen years before and a pair of recent shootings, the young and disturbed scion who wants to confess to all of them, his family of habitual liars, their violently widowed lawyer and his daughter who has the hots for the suspect rich boy, a professionally compromised psychiatrist and his embittered wife, a Gordian knot of false identities, infidelities and covert illegitimately, and ...more
Aug 29, 2008 rated it liked it
While many contemporary mystery writers produce entertaining novels, I like to go back periodically to one of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer stories. To me Macdonald's narratives are more engaging than those by other pioneer detective writers, such as those featuring Hammett’s Continental Op or Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. Macdonald (a pseudonym for the Canadian Donald Millar, who grew up in Vancouver) engages our minds and our emotions with stories that reflect our society as well as show hu ...more
Ken Kuhlken
Oct 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Having read all Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novels, I can't remember being disappointed by any of them.

Lately I got the urge to lose myself in Lew Archer's world, which for the most part runs along the coast of southern California between the late '40s and the early '70s.

I found a deal on a hardcover of The Goodbye Look, the plot of which I only vaguely remembered. And now, more than ever, I agree with William Goldman, whose review of the novel included: "The finest series of detective novels e
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
To keep all the characters straight in my head I needed a program - or at least a trip to to build a family tree. It took more brain power that I was prepared for. Nonetheless, McDonald's Archer series is the model by which hard-boiled detective fiction is often measured, and for good reason. Straight-forward down-to-the-bone investigation; film-noir for the mind writing.
Aug 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: noir
Ross MacDonald weaves plot-line baroquery into something staggeringly gorgeous. Not one character is ever introduced who is ever what they seem, no one is not connected. Lew Archer is a unique PI character--hard-boiled, yes, and ready with a dry quip, of course, but sensitive, bleeding for the pain of the world.
Srinivas Veeraraghavan
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Another cracker from the MacDonald stable. The usual themes of ugly secrets, familial dysfunction and repressed guilt pervade the book with the quintessential intricate plotting that is vintage MacDonald.

Is this the best MacDonald book there is? Nope, that honour still lies with "The Chill" and the "Zebra-Striped Hearse" but this is still one helluva ride.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it liked it
It's rare for me to rate an Archer book below 4-stars but this one felt too familiar. It ticked off a lot of boxes on the Macdonald checklist but also relied too much on exposition to advance its convoluted plot. It's still an Archer book so the mystery is worth it but this is definitely one of Macdonald's lesser works.
Saz Gee
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Lew Archer books. They are so meticulously plotted and pacy but with the most wonderful languid, evocative descriptions. They have such a strong sense of mood and style. The world-weary, cynical but vulnerable detective is so my thing, and Archer is almost on a parr with Chandler's Marlowe. The stuff Macdonald does better is in his descriptions of places - so brooding and full of prophecy that you can almost hear ther heavy background music twisting your emotions as you read. His use of l ...more
Vicki Cline
May 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: archer-mysteries
I think that MacDonald's The Zebra-Striped Hearse was the first mystery novel I ever read. I found it in the library - must have been attracted by the strange name. Once I had read it, I was hooked on the author and read all his books. This is one of the later ones. Lew Archer, the detective, is somewhat jaded, but not totally cynical, and does care about his clients, especially the younger members of the family. In this case, he's hired by an attorney to investigate the theft of a gold box and ...more
Michael Flick
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best
This is my second Lew Archer novel by Ross Macdonald. I didn’t care much for the first, “The Drowning Pool,” which was early Macdonald. This is late Macdonald and quite a bit better. The story is compelling, complicated, and the reader solves the mystery along with Archer. Nice.

I think I’m beginning to understand Archer, who is quite different from, say, Marlowe (or Spade). He’s kind of a cipher who gets out of the way of the story instead of being the story. He tells the reader here what drives
Feb 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ross MacDonald is one of the acknowledged masters of the Noir detective genre. This story, set in the stark landscape of Southern California in the late 1960’s, finds his man Lew Archer hired to investigate the simple burglary of a family heirloom. As Archer delves into events he begins to uncover the deep secrets of a wealthy family that involves insanity and multiple murders.

Unfortunately I found the characters other than Archer mostly uninteresting, and the story held various levels as intere
May 28, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-reread
Read before so long ago that I didn't remember a single bit of it. Not surprising, since almost everybody in it is hiding a secret or a different name or both. This kind of hot mess is generally fun with Lew Archer's cool in the middle of it, but in this book there are just too many people and too much mess. Still, MacDonald's not as confused as Raymond Chandler, and Archer's a nice person to hang with.
Alex Bledsoe
Oct 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a pretty somber Archer outing, with a series of interrelated pasts that grow almost too complex to keep track of. MacDonald pulls it together at the end, though, and it's ultimately a rewarding read.
Patrick O'Neil
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Drugs, revenge, insanity, and a twisting turning plot - Ross MacDonald was on when he wrote The Goodbye Look. Friends have recommended MacDonald and the one book I read prior to this I wasn't that impressed with. However MacDonald scored with this book.
Rog Harrison
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the fifteenth Lew Archer novel and it's the second time I have read it. This is a gripping story where hardly anything is as it seems but the ending though unexpected does make sense. Lew Archer is a great character and this book is one of the best in the series.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The next best thing to Raymond Chandler. Should keep me busy for the next ten years.
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Superb plotting, and a fantastic baroque ending. Gobbled this up in a night.
Steve Aldous
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ross MacDonald is one of three writers considered to be the pinnacle fo the private eye genre - the other two being Raymond Chandler and Dashell Hammet. His Lew Archer novels and stories build on Chandler's cynical view of Los Angeles and the flawed characters who inhabit it. This is the fifteenth of eighteen novels MacDonald wrote featuring the character and is typical of the later entries in the series. Archer becomes embroiled in a case revolving around a small group of families - all of whom ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Macdonald always gets compared to Raymond Chandler but no one in my mind writes better in this genre than Chandler. For example I am reading Macdonald's The Underground Man The cover has a quote from Eudora Welty stating: " A more serous and complex writer than Chandler and Hammett ever were"

Really? Chandler was an alcoholic who wrote about the 40's and 50's. I doubt Ross Macdonald who wrote in the 60's ever smoked a joint or ever took acid which he writes about in his books, but he is on the o
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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 Way Some People Die
  • The Ivory Grin
  • Find a Victim
  • The Barbarous Coast
  • The Doomsters
  • The Galton Case
  • The Wycherly Woman

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“I have a secret passion for mercy. But justice is what keeps happening to people.” 6 likes
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