First let me show you an image to set the right mood for the review:
We are talking about noir:
It all seemed simple and cliche in the beginning. A woman hired Lew Archer to find her missing daughter who was old enough to take care of herself, but always visited her mother suddenly stopped doing so. Archer was somewhat reluctant to take the case, but feeling sympathy for the lonely woman he agreed. What did he get for fifty dollars?
I mean upstanding citizens
drug trafficking, blackmail
murders, femme fatale
juvenile delinquents, people who made it in Hollywood, washed-out people who did not make it, big money and everything it corrupted. I can go on and on.
I inevitably keep comparing this series to writing of Raymond Chandler. While Ross Macdonald lacks some precision in descriptions of places, people, and atmosphere of the undisputed classic of genre, the former is still really good in his own right. You do feel like you really ended up in noir version of California in early fifties with living breathing people.
The plot has enough twists for me to guarantee you will be lost somewhere along the way and this was one of the major reasons for high rating. If you will see the final twist coming before Archer explained it you have my greatest respect.
So this is the first book of the series which finally showed me why people call Ross Macdonald one of the classic of noir along with the great Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler.