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READ PDF õ The Instant Enemy ô Lew Archer is back, careening down the bloody trail of women who were beaten to death, a murdered cop, and a dead hobo who is the key to ayear old family secret that won t die The American private eye, immortalized by Hammett, refined by Chandler, brought to its zenith by Macdonald New York Times Book Review Out of print since The story of sad eyed tough guy Lew Archer s attempt to save the life of a troubled young hooligan, and the endless spurt of tragic back story which comes out as a result You know Ross McDonald is one of the greats because even though this book does not make any motherfucking sense it s still fabulous With a chalkboard I could not follow along with the labyrinthine complexities of this investigation, but the writing is on point, and the moral version defined within a sadder,sympathetic The story of sad eyed tough guy Lew Archer s attempt to save the life of a troubled young hooligan, and the endless spurt of tragic back story which comes out as a result You know Ross McDonald is one of the greats because even though this book does not make any motherfucking sense it s still fabulous With a chalkboard I could not follow along with the labyrinthine complexities of this investigation, but the writing is on point, and the moral version defined within a sadder,sympathetic one then offered by his predecessors isthan worth the price of admission Lew Archer is hired by a middle class couple to find their troubled runaway daughter, and soon learns that she may be traveling with her psychotic boyfriend and her father s shotgun toward something that looks a little like a robbery and a whole lot like revenge.The resolution of the novel is perhaps too complicated, but I found detective Archer s attempts to save these two young people, each admirable and decent in their own way, moving and memorable I m sure my reaction was intensified by t Lew Archer is hired by a middle class couple to find their troubled runaway daughter, and soon learns that she may be traveling with her psychotic boyfriend and her father s shotgun toward something that looks a little like a robbery and a whole lot like revenge.The resolution of the novel is perhaps too complicated, but I found detective Archer s attempts to save these two young people, each admirable and decent in their own way, moving and memorable I m sure my reaction was intensified by the fact that I had recently read a biography of Ross Macdonald, and in the course of re reading this novel I could see both the young novelist himself and his own troubled daughter vividly revealed in the affecting portraits of the daughter and her boyfriend.At first glance, Macdonald seems to be the most self effacing and least autobiographical of novelists, concentrating above all on his craft and the quality of his tale, but when you get to know him better you see that every haunted young man, every wounded young woman, is his own younger self and his wayward daughter in disguise, surrounded by characters who are also ghosts from his past.Macdonald is fond of using the metaphor of the mask, and his characters often use masks to hide their true selves Yet underneath each character s mask is another, and behind it if you look carefully you will see the face of a disciplined novelist whose wounded heart wants to save the damaged children of the world The late sixties feel almost like yesterday compared to times when Raymond Chandler writings took place We have sex, drugs LSD is mentioned here , and rock n roll Lew Archer is hired by a typical middle class suburban couple to find their typical rebellious troubled runaway teen daughter who took a shotgun as a memento with her It seems she ran off to her equally troubled and psychotic to boot boyfriend This innocent investigation leads to a surprising number of dead bodies and a very c The late sixties feel almost like yesterday compared to times when Raymond Chandler writings took place We have sex, drugs LSD is mentioned here , and rock n roll Lew Archer is hired by a typical middle class suburban couple to find their typical rebellious troubled runaway teen daughter who took a shotgun as a memento with her It seems she ran off to her equally troubled and psychotic to boot boyfriend This innocent investigation leads to a surprising number of dead bodies and a very complicated and convoluted I am using this word as a praise here mystery The first thing to note about the novel is the very high number of dead bodies I already mentioned, probably the highest so far in the series if you count the bodies both in past and present the past plays an important part in the book as always touching on dark secrets of several generations of different families Ross Macdonald is one of the grand masters of mystery both traditional and noir sadly mostly forgotten these days Not only he can and does create a good mystery, his descriptions make southern California of the end of sixties come alive Most of his characters felt like living breathing real people While reading the novel I began feeling bad for the teen couple, then I felt really repulsed by them, and then I began to understand them It takes a real master to pull off such great characterization I would like to mention I was really impressed by Archer s efforts to do everything he could and then some to save the teens from themselves I gave 4 stars to this novel initially, but after rereading my own review I realized it needs to be rated higher, so 5 stars is it Runaway Train would be an obvious and excellent listening choice as a background music for reading review is dedicated to the noble effort by good people who try to help runaway kids all over the world I don t trust people who say they like mysteries They seem to read for different reasons than me, not better or worse, I guess, but they re a different species and I don t know what to say to them I picture grey haired cat ladies with Agatha Christie fixations or overweight insurance salesmen obsessed with Sherlock Holmes minutiae Or I think back to the first time I met one of my wife s cousins She saw I was reading The Secret History and said, Oh, that looks great I love whodunits In tu I don t trust people who say they like mysteries They seem to read for different reasons than me, not better or worse, I guess, but they re a different species and I don t know what to say to them I picture grey haired cat ladies with Agatha Christie fixations or overweight insurance salesmen obsessed with Sherlock Holmes minutiae Or I think back to the first time I met one of my wife s cousins She saw I was reading The Secret History and said, Oh, that looks great I love whodunits In turn, I stay away from the mystery aisles I know little about Hammett, Chandler, etc because of their weak and perhaps unsubstantiated connection to the genre However, about fifteen years ago my friend Dan hooked me onto Ellroy and I worked through his entire catalog And I ve glanced, every now and then, in the direction of others who earn or acquire while failing to earn comparisons to Mr E Ross Macdonald, a writer of whom I had never heard until I saw a reference on goodreads last week, precedes Ellroy but nonetheless provided a welcome surprise After reading my first Macdonald I d feel comfortable recommending his work to the Ellroy obsessed, and I don t take that type of recommendation lightly I could see the authors admiring each other s work The Instant Enemy, one of a series of Lew Archer novels, catches fire within the first twenty pages Mr Archer, a weatherbeaten private detective, takes on a case in which he agrees to find the rebellious daughter of a wealthy, preening middle manager In the process he encounters her broken boyfriend, a barren farm with a terrifying history, and a loaded family with too much to hide for long Mr Archer lives weary He s not a superhero and Macdonald s prose mirrors the character s steady, careful pace Archer, it seems, has witnessed enough terror both to try and save his cases victims and to know sometimes people pursue their own demons straight to hell with full knowledge of exactly what they re doing I read The Instant Enemy over a long weekend on a hot front porch, avoiding the sun, and the second I finished I requestedMacdonald from the local library system In a couple weeks I return to my wife s family s house out east, and I ll need books like this, so I m glad to have found the author I get the feeling I ve missedout there like him