Ross MacDonald at his best.

Having read all Ross MacDonald’s Lew Archer novels, I can’t remember being disappointed by any of them.

Lately I got the urge to lose myself in Lew Archer’s world, which for the most part runs along the coast of southern California between the late ’40s and the early ’70s.

I found a deal on a hardcover of The Goodbye Look, the plot of which I only vaguely remembered. And now, more than ever, I agree with William Goldman, whose review of the novel included: “The finest series of detective novels ever written by an American.”

MacDonald knew all the tricks of suspense and used them so well that I can feel abused when sleep or some other responsibility calls me away from a novel of his. And he rewards us readers with characters whose actions and emotions we understand, sometimes too well. Even if they are more damaged than us, we can’t help seeing in them who we could be, but for fortune.

The Goodbye Look may be MacDonald at his best. The way the good guys reveal their badness and the bad guys find their piece of redemption, and even the lesser characters play crucial parts in the intricate story of the wages of sin multiplied by family secrecy–only a true master can create such as world.

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