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The Doomsters (Lew Archer #7)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  872 Ratings  ·  75 Reviews
Hired by Carl Hallman, the desperate-eyed junkie scion of an obscenely wealthy political dynasty, detective Lew Archer investigates the suspicious deaths of his parents, Senator Hallman and his wife Alicia. Arriving in the sleepy town of Purissima, Archer discovers that orange groves may be where the Hallmans made their mint, but they’ve has been investing heavily in polit ...more
Paperback, Black Lizard, 251 pages
Published December 23rd 2007 by Vintage Crime (first published February 1958)
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Bill  Kerwin
Apr 27, 2009 rated it really liked it

Ross MacDonald is beginning to hit his stride in The Doomsters, but the book has too many imperfections to be considered among Archer's best.

Although the plot is good, the resolution takes too many pages of explanation, including an improbably lengthy monologue from the quadruple murderer, and the diction is occasionally imitative and unsure, sometimes bizarrely metaphorical like Chandler, occasionally libidinous like Spillane. There is still too much of Freud in Macdonald's Oedipus and Electra
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lew Archer arriva dopo Sam Spade e dopo Philip Marlowe, ma non li fa rimpiangere: è un magnifico esempio di investigatore privato.

Anche Lew è intriso di cinismo intinto nel disincanto, anche Lew è un solitario romantico don chisciotte della giustizia.


Archer è probabilmente meno ‘colorito’ dei detective di Hammett e Chandler, più dolce ed etico, addirittura a suo modo religioso (non si occupa di divorzi ☺) e quindi, forse, per qualcuno, più mammola.
Ma anche, probabilmente, più in
May 27, 2015 rated it liked it
Lew Archer became involved with a mentally disturbed guy from a wealthy family.
Mentally disturbed guy
Violence followed latter whenever he showed up, but Archer strongly suspected it is not his fault, so the detective decided to interfere. Violence escalated.

My biggest and the only question about this installment is, "What the hell happened to Archer between the previous book and this one?" What transformed him from a typical tough PI:
into a preacher?
It never felt to me Archer did any kind of investigation. He preac
Sep 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's been a few years since I read a Lew Archer novel, but the end result is the same. Once I began, I was swept away and compelled to read, read, read. Macdonald is in great form here and every piece of this story is just about perfect. And the ending was a huge surprise to me.

I rarely hand out five stars, but this one deserves more than four. Consider this a 4 1/2 star rating.
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-mystery
Beach week starting --

I've been reading these in sequence.

Macdonald has said that The Doomsters was his breakthrough book -- the one where he stopped simply writing genre and became... a writer. For most of this book, I didn't feel that it was working. There was still the clichéd writing of the 1950's genre, the plot was too complicated and a bit implausible..., the characters predicatbly flat... and nothing really seemed new.

Till about ch. 24 -- then, things did start to change... even so, I
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Something Archer and Philip Marlowe have in common is that they display the “wary good humour of men whose calling is death”. Okay, that description actually appears in this book attached to the otherwise inconsequential character of the deputy coroner, but I think it’s apt for both these California detectives. They are closed men, men in many ways shut off from the wider world, but they are able to keep up a string of patter when dealing with murder. Indeed it’s one of the more reliable weapons ...more
Nov 14, 2017 rated it liked it
My third read by Ross MacDonald still doesn't meet the quality of the first I read, "The Way Some People Die", but perhaps that is a standard effect when reading 3 works by the same author in 3 consecutive months. Still, often, Macdonald bats his psychological reasonings/ramblings right out of the ballpark: "I went to the piano and picked out a one-finger tune. I quit when I recognized it: "Sentimental Journey." I took the conch shell [on the piano] and set it to my ear. Its susurrus sounded les ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: detailed-review
In the last noir I read, The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley, I had an epiphany about noir. They are masculine romances, explorations of how men view women. One might even say they’re critiques of the male thirst for feminine sympathy. That stuff gets you killed, man. I further claimed that noir offers a specific set of roles for their female characters, reflecting the various ways that men view women: the LOVER; the HOUSEKEEPER; the TEMPTRESS; the MOTHER; & the penultimate role, the core of ...more
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is where the Archer books started to get really personal and hard, with everyone, including Archer, sharing a measure of the blame. One of the strongest entries in the series.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, owned
Good twist to the plot near the end but for some reason, I found Lew Archer less likeable in this one.
David Everett
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Not a bad place to start on the Ross MacDonald path. Crime, pathology and mystery mixed with psychology (and psychiatry), philosophy, dependency, and the vagaries of guilt and denial. One of the many MacDonald books that transcends the crime/mystery genre. He's a novelist, nothing less, and his work is addictive.
Alex Bledsoe
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
A real sea change in MacDonald's work, where he becomes more interested in the "why" than the "how" of a case. The compressed time frame adds real urgency, and the wrap-up is vivid and oddly touching.
Apr 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The title taken from a Thomas Hardy poem (Breathe not, hid Heart: cease silently, And though thy birth-hour beckons thee, Sleep the long sleep: The Doomsters heap; Travails and teens around us here), The Doomsters is perhaps the best example of Macdonald's ability to transcend the genre.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another Lew Archer mystery. The ending kind of brought this one down a notch for me. That and maybe the fact that there was pretty much one main suspect for me throughout most of the book. Usually Macdonald keeps my suspicions bouncing around. In the end, my suspect didn't turn out to be the main baddie, though they were definitely a baddie. The problem is more that Macdonald didn't really sell me on the solution as well as he could have. The solution is presented as a sort of big rambly mess, a ...more
Liam Green
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the pivotal Lew Archer novels, with a typically convoluted plot but some fantastic rumination on the vagaries of dysfunctional family and post-WW2 america.
Nov 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Far From His Best

1958, seventh in the series

I am a long time fan of Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer stories. I have read all the novels at least twice. I agree with the idea that these are "the best series of mystery novels ever written by an American," and I would even drop the word "mystery" from that. They transcend the mystery genre into real literature.

The early novels have the flavor of a 1940s pulp fiction hard-boiled detective yarn. But Ross Macdonald matured out of that and came into his ow
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it
The first slight misstep in the Lew Archer series by Ross Macdonald. A decent mystery involving a messed up family and the twists and turns that mental illness mixed with money can cause.

The main problem was the treatment of mental illness. Macdonald had clearly just read some Freud or something and was extremely interested in it and wanted to put a lot of it in the story. Many of the theories the characters put forward are out of date or were never really believed by anyone in the first place.

Aug 31, 2011 rated it liked it
Macdonald, Ross. THE DOOMSTERS. (1958). ***.
Ross Macdonald (Kenneth Millar) was born in San Francisco in 1915, but raised in Ontario. He later returned to America as a young man and began writing. His first book was published in 1944. During the course of his career, he served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America and was named a Grand Master. The other prizes he won were too numerous to list. His series featuring Lew Archer, his private eye, were all best sellers, and broke out of
Oct 28, 2012 rated it liked it
I am not altogether qualified to place this book in MacDonald's ouevre, because this is the first of his books I've read, but I liked it well enough. Lew Archer here tackles a case of a rotten but wealthy family as they kill each other off in search of an inheritance. This focus on real estate and privilege to me sort of typifies what I think of as LA Noir, and MacDonald brings some fairly explicit Freudian talk to this novel, and there's an almost quaint sense that the wicked souls here are cur ...more
Nov 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In Lew Archer's (or Ross MacDonald's) California
Everything was as pretty as a postcard. The trouble with you, I said to myself: you're always turning over the postcards and reading the messages on the underside. Written in invsible ink, in blood, in tears, with a black border around them, with postage due, unsigned, or signed with a thumbprint.
What could be more California picture postcard than an orange grove outside the idyllic coastal town of La Purissima (a town which is anything but pure)
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the book where Macdonald really pulled out of Chandler's and Hammett's shadows. The Doomsters is also different from most Archer books in that this time the mystery has a very personal connection for Archer - we learn much more about the detective himself than the usual "divorced former cop" line tossed into all the other books. In fact, the climax and denouement might be read as something of a catharsis of the character himself. It's not quite a "reboot" of the series, but it is clear t ...more
Jun 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: macdonald-ross
30 jun 16, 1st from macdonald, ross for me...apparently. don't have any stories listed and i'd have to look over the list as seems like i've read something or more from him but then again maybe not. now this.
1 jul 16, finished. i liked it but just barely. a tad too convoluted, somewhat like the last story i read, that i don't want to look to see what it was to tell anyone. i'll slap my self later, that, or give the dirty romans time, there's always a hill available. sign me up.
maybe that is the
Ak-75 Harris
Apr 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Macdonald and his private detective Lew Archer are the heirs to Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe in all the important ways. He's a great writer that happens to write mysteries/crime/detective stories. The stories are less about whodunit or how it was done, but on the psychological reason why it was done. Usually with a twisted family tree or two and a surprise ending or two, it doesn't get any better than Ross Macdonald.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Maybe there was something wrong with me. Maybe I have finally hit a wall with the Lew Archer series (perish the thought!) but I simply could not get into this one. It's still an Archer novel so it remains a quality mystery tale but from the start, this one felt weaker than others. It relies too much on expository dialogue rather than Archer's detective skills and the setting is too familiar (though again, that's on me as I've read the vast majority of the Archer series already). This one ranks o ...more
Paul Secor
Apr 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm rereading my way backwards through Ross Macdonald's novels. Except for The Ferguson Affair - which I don't count, since it's a non-Lew Archer novel -this was the first disappointment. I hope that it's just a glitch, but I shall find out.
Mick Grant
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Ross Mcdonald's books are reminiscent of Chandler but he is arguably a better novelist with charcters more finely drawn. The mysteries are good too.
Jun 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Man, these books are like popcorn; you can't read just one.
Jeffrey St.
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A tale of greed, politics and familial dysfunction in the hothouse of southern California by the last great master of the hard-boiled detective novel.
James Castle
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
While certainly an improvement over the volumes that preceded it in the series, The Doomsters still has a few pulp-ish aspects to it that kept me from giving it a higher rating.

The novel begins and ends within 24 hours, roughly, and in that span of a day too much happens and too much is said. Archer learns about the case (a hideously convoluted one, as usual for this author) in the morning and solves it that night. The chronology of the story, as well as its pacing, felt rather frantic.

To demon
Aug 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Number seven on my project to read all of Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer novels. The Doomsters is a California gothic family tragedy. It is interesting but the plotting speeds and slows too much for my taste. It also suffers from a critical case of too much tell and not enough show. The conclusion goes on for pages. On the positive side we see more evidence of Macdonald working his way past the Raymond Chandler influences and making something more unique out of Archer. I first began reading Archer ...more
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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

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“He hadn’t wanted to be helped the way I wanted to help him, the way that helped me.” 6 likes
“She folded her arms across her breasts and looked at me like a lioness.” 3 likes
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