The story of Sleeping Beauty comes all the way from this guy:
was retold by these guys:
and was used by practically everybody and their brother since then. Welcome to noir version of the tale.
The inspiration for the background of the story came from Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969. I wonder what sort of inspiration Ross Macdonald would get from the recent Mexican Gulf spill... but I digress. Anyhow there is an oil spill near California coast which threatened marine life and brought a lot of protesters that are about to turn violent; people became much more desensitized to such events since early seventies due to their frequent occurrences.
Lew Archer happened to be one of the spectators on the damaged coast. He noticed a young woman who tried to save an oil-covered grebe. He began following her and ended up giving her a ride to the city. She used a phone in Archer's apartment and left to unknown location with the circumstances leading Archer to believe she is about to commit suicide. His effort to find her before she does uncovered a lot of dead bodies both in past and present, a lot of dark secrets of a lot of different families, and a lot of destroyed lives as a result of said secrets.
At this point I have to stoop really low and resort to plagiarism. My only excuse: I am going to plagiarize myself. Money does not buy happiness, but it is much better to cry in a personal limo than in a crowded bus.
I swear the only therapy some people need is change of their lifestyle to the one where you live from paycheck to paycheck. This cures a lot
of problems - without any kind of professional help.
Unlike previous novels of the series this one failed to make me care about any of the characters - for example I could not care less whether the very special snowflake of the woman I mentioned above ended up alive or dead. Rich spoiled brats rebelling against their parents because they did not have enough personal freedom? Touch luck guys and girls, what about kids who have to bust their ass off working since practically childhood helping supporting their families? I did end up hating the main villain due to the number of lives he/she destroyed and kept destroying.
As a mystery it is still first-rate as I came to expect from Ross Macdonald, even though I felt he recycled some of his own tropes from the earlier works.
For these two reasons I rate the novel with 4 stars
, but this time this is very weak 4 star rating.