This is a swimming pool:
What is it good for? You can use it to show your social status (I challenge anybody to find a mansion of a really rich person without one). You can drown the old ladies in one - the kind which everybody hates and who sits on piles of money her close relatives can really use. Finally you can just swim in there. Let us talk about the second case.
Lew Archer is a private detective who makes his humble living mostly collecting evidence for divorce cases. This time a frightened woman named Maude Slocum came to him offering his a small sum of money to investigate a poison pen letter addressed to her husband where a "concerned citizen" was warning the latter about his wife's less than discrete behavior with another man.
Lew Archer's task is to prevent such letters in the future and finding its author.
Archer decided the family itself would be a good starting point only to have the dead body I mentioned above promptly showing. From this point on the guy has to deal with corrupted police, even more killings, an oil tycoon who bought the law in a small town wholesale, and other related exciting things. He also had to study the history of the family of his client - and it was not all fun and roses.
I want to make one thing very clear. This is a very good book and I enjoyed reading it a lot. The plot was very twisty and moved along at a fast pace. The descriptions of places were good enough to really make me feel I was transported in late forties California, yet not long enough to stop the plot from moving.
So why only 3 stars? Because when I read it I could not help comparing this book with the classic of genre Raymond Chandler and Lew Archer with Philip Marlowe. It does not quite reach the level of the latter. Please do not think this is bad as practically nothing written in noir is on the same level as Chandler's prose and the phrase "almost on Chandler's level" is actually high praise indeed.
Another very minor reason I failed to care about Maude Slocum at all. Archer did care about her, but he could not make me do it.
In the conclusion this is
a good book and I eagerly await to start reading the next novel of the series.