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The Drowning Pool (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 5 Jul 2012
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The American private eye, immortalised Hammett, refined by Chandler, brought to its zenith by Macdonald (The New York Times Book Review)
About the Author
MacDonald served as president of The Mystery Writers of America in 1965, received the Silver Dagger in 1964 and the Gold Dagger in 1965 from The British Crime Writers Association, and in 1981, received The Eye, the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Private Eye Writers of America.
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Top Customer Reviews
In The Drowning Pool Macdonald's world-weary but never despairing detective, Lew Archer, is approached by Maude Slocum - a beautiful woman whose receipt of a poison pen letter is the least of her problems: her daughter is attractive but dangerously sullen; her husband is at last edging out of the closet and she herself is rather too attentive towards one of the local cops. Archer reluctantly takes the case of investigating the poison pen letter but soon finds himself immersed in a world of blackmail, violence and murder. The deeper he delves, the more wretchedly shabby the behaviour he discovers. Nobody is entirely evil and nobody is entirely good: everyone from the icily beautiful Mavis Kilbourne with her toxic husband through to the arch-chancer Pat Reavis, perpetually on the look out for the vulnerable girl and the easy money is a shade of scuffed and grubby grey.
The Drowning Pool is an excellent 1950s American Noir. Lew Archer with his grudging refusal to wash his hands of the deeply flawed people he encounters is a continual delight.Read more ›
He investigates events surrounding the dysfunctional Sloan family, They are rich and would be stinking rich if only the matriarch would see the benefits of an oil-well in the back garden. Archer receives almost 48 hours of sustained violence in his California home ground whilst Mr Macdonald throws out enough good lines to justify his second tier ranking in the crime writers stakes.
Archer still eludes me. I cannot 'see' him in my mind's eye. The author gives the reader very little in terms of physical description or character. He is simply the locomotive of the story. As a result I appreciate this series of novels but dont relish them.
However, the reader must be warned that MacDonald's Lew Archer novels do seem to be rather formulaic; for instance his novels usually include one or more of the following plot devises:
1) A wealthy family hiding a secret from the past which has come back to haunt them,
2) The head of the family is usually a dominatrix who has a strained relationship
with her sons and/or their daughter in laws,
3) A key character that turns out not to be the person he claims to be,
4) Another Key character with important clues who has a nervous breakdown and whose
doctor prevents Archer from questioning them,
5) A lawyer/Doctor who cannot disclose important Patient/Client information.
Some of these plot devices have been used in the Drowning pool. Never the less, it is still a gripping read with plenty of plot twists, which keep you guessing right to the end. If you want to escape to post war LA, then this will give you plenty hours of pleasure. You could almost smell the warm sea breeze coming from the ocean and imagine the palms gently swaying as you drive down the pacific coast highway.
The plots keep you reading, but the solutions are always ridiculous, creakily Freudian: the parents have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge. And his books are always all the same, and always enjoyable, which is so reassuring.
An engrossing and pacy story, the closing chapters feel a bit strange here and there, and one violent episode reminded me of early Ian Fleming, due to the brutal and slightly sadistic nature of the writing. These books must have seemed quite risque at the times, full as they are of violence and more than a hint of sexual innuendo. One of five stylish titles from MacDonald published by Penguin Modern Classics with elegant artwork covers, the only slight mystery is the attributing of the same quote about the books to William Goldman and James Ellroy. Careless..
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The item arrived in good time and lived up to its expectation as a thoroughly absorbing book written with style.Published 16 months ago by ARCHIBALD SMITH
The Drowning Pool was one of Ross Macdonald’s earliest novels featuring the private investigator Lew Archer, only the second in fact after his first appearance in The Moving Target... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Susie Newman
bought for father-in-law. He enjoys Ross Macdonald books and it's difficult to find them in the library.Published on 3 Mar. 2015 by Horace Spatula
Particularly uninvolving, slightly dull & underwhelming pot boiler, not one of his best, I'm beginning to doubt if indeed he has a best? Read morePublished on 18 Aug. 2014 by S. J. Hannaway