Ross Macdonald: The Archer Files The Complete Short Stories of Lew Archer Private Investigator



The accomplishment of Ross Macdonald in achieving true art within the confines of a presumptively trivial genre the detective story cannot be over appreciated The richness of Macdonald s prose and is melancholy eye for character transcend any cops and robbers mundanity For one like me who The Dragon in the Clock Box has read all of Macdonald s novels this collection of all ofis short stories and a few fragments about detective Lew Archer is like lapping up the last precious drops from a near empty canteen while stranded in the desert It s both utterly delicious and sad Macdonald s skill with the short story is on par with My Amazing Dinosaur (Tib Tumtum, his novelistic talents despite the different reuirements of each form Each of the stories is satisfying and rich The fragments of unfinished novels or stories are infinitely tantalizing yet in most cases they are so intriguing and enjoyable in their mere expression that they are satisfying in their own right even without conclusions Anyone who appreciates a good tale wonderfully written will find much to love in this wonderful book The Archer Files The Complete Short Stories of Lew Archer Private Investigator by Ross Macdonald is my first exposure to M Ross Macdonald s Lew Archer short stories display the same uniform excellence asis novels The stories contained in THE ARCHER FILES The Nazi Revolution have lesser build up time than the novelsowever Macdonald s private eye thrives in the short form too THE ARCHER FILES is all the proof anyone needs every story is good Gone Girl and The Suicide are astonishingly superb There s no filler unless you categorize the 11 unfinished tales as such I consider them a bonus I paid twenty bucks for FILES the fragments alone are worth a Bloods a Rover (American Underworld Trilogy hundredIn the beginning the publishing industry was not kind to Lew Archer Early paperback covers misled readers but the smooth intelligent prose inside erased any ire mystery buyers mayave felt at being oodwinked In the mid sixties Bantam Books emblazoned Lew Archer the ardest of the Wylde Bears (Wylde Bears, hard boiled dicks across the top of all their paperback covers featuring Ross Macdonald s fairly unknown creation Theardboiled blurb reinforced each cover always a slightly out of focus photograph of the same man with a different woman Those females seemed like mere decoration since the emphasis was always the male an obvious Cooking Light Lazy Gourmet hero who looked like a rugged Mike Hammer but dressed like James Bond on casino night Bantam marketed nine or ten Archer novels with those very distinct photo covers one of them was THE NAME IS ARCHER from where seven of the stories in THE ARCHER FILES were originally collected Midnight Blue and Sleeping Dog are minor masterpieces from the sixties excluded from THE NAME IS ARCHER because they were not yet written Revised editions of the collection include these additional two mysteries Three of FILES stories are from STRANGERS IN TOWN two of them novelettes that became THE IVORY GRIN Strangers In Town and THE DOOMSTERS The Angry Man THE ARCHER FILES contains the entire contents of STRANGERS IN TOWN and the extended NAME IS ARCHER and Hollywood wasn t particularly kind either Paul Newman s insistence on being Lew Harper instead of Archer played a large role in Archer s low recognition factor in American pop consciousness by virtue of robbing the cinematic version of the character ofis real name It didn t Arise help that both Harper movies were unforgivably miscast and not very good Harper chewed gum an additional travestyIn 1967 I finally broke down and bought Macdonald s WYCHERLY WOMAN novel I read Spillane and Fleming soow bad could it be right Though only fourteen I was immediately struck by the uality of Macdonald s engaging whodunit abilities and felt rather indignant that Bantam deliberately misrepresented Lew Archer s true nature What I didn t realize as a youngster was those covers brilliantly lured droves of readers to Archer who ordinarily might not be interested in such an undemonstrative unassuming detective readers who liked their private eyes Archies Americana, Vol. 1 harder boiled than Sherlock HolmesAfter THE WYCHERLY WOMAN purposely alliterative of witchy woman there are no accidents in Macdonald s writing I read THE FAR SIDE OF THE DOLLAR and THE INSTANT ENEMY in uick succession I liked the Archer books but wasn tooked on the series until I read. Ross Macdonald 1915 1983 was the author of eighteen books that a New York Times critic called the finest series of detective novels ever written by an American the Lew Archer canon which included such breakthrough best sellers as The Underground Man The Goodbye Look and The Blue Hammer Macdonald born Kenneth Millar also wrote several novelettes and short stories involving Southern California private detective Lew Archer The Archer Files for.

review The Archer Files The Complete Short Stories of Lew Archer Private Investigator

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Just reads really nice I think with just a The Book Thief hint ofard boiled I Talk to Me had followed a man from Fresno to San Diego and lostim in the maze of streets in Old TownHe Silver Mortal (The Gracen Chronicles, had crossed the border and my instructions went no further than the United States Lew then findsimself on the freeway with the worst driver in the worldthe Educating for the New World Order heavy car Cadillac wove back and forth across the freeway using 2 of its 4 lanes sometimes 3 Eventually Lew Archer exhausted pulls off the freeway to the first motele comes to the Siesta And there Living in Little Rock with Miss Little Rock he finds trouble PACE 4 I ve read 7 Ross Macdonald novels ande almost The Character Of An Upright Man has oneere a subject matter easily expandable into a novel But Mr. Malcolms List he made the right choice imoPLOT 3 Lew finds evidence of a murder at the Siesta motel and reason to check around the seaside area for someone whoas lost a lot of blood and may be dead Yes GURPS Conspiracy X he finds the Cadillac from the opening page parked and a dead man inside a man whoad been dying from a gunshot wound as Just One Golden Kiss he drove on the freeway page 1 The owner of theotel begs Lew not to report the murder to the cops and Lew agrees to at least investigate the situation for a fee PEOPLE 4 Lew Archer to me is the smartest of all the series private investigators He s not the toughest but The Tyranny of Guilt he sees people their truths and lies uickly Ande is tough enough to survive the bad guys The motel owner Mr Salanda is desparately protective of Phantom Encounters his young daughter Ella and she is just old enough to get into all sorts of problems A sensitive kid named Donnyas a big time crush on Eat Your Way Through the USA her And Mrs Mabel Salanda a big forceful blonde practically steals the show But then there is Mr Funk in Vegas withis gang of oodsATMOSPHERE 2 Room fourteen was like any other middle class motel room touched with the California Spanish maniaA Rivera reproduction of a sleeping Mexican ung on the wall over the bed A description today that we d call politically incorrect and if you ve never lived in Southern California this description is a bit short But in the book Macdonald doesn t spend much time on atmosphere than this brief description of a motel room And the story could take place anywhere the author doesn t integrate the story with the placeSUMMARY My rating is 34 Macdonald delivers as usual a solid plot with some surprises and a good set of characters I ve oft considered Ross MacDonald a solid example of a novelist who got by writing the same book over and over again That is not meant to denigrate the man s work Ross MacDonald is the Holy Spirit to Raymond Chandler s Son and Dashiell Hammett s Father in the Holy Trinity of Classic American Hard Boiled PI Detective Fiction Mickey Spillane would probably be like an Apostle or lesser but influential Pope The Lew Archer stories I ve found to be a bit melancholy or wistfulMacDonald s novels all tend to focus around the same themes eg broken families sometimes looking for their lost members and feature the same elements This recycling or literary bricolage can readily be evidenced in Stories from Spain / Historias de España how uite a few of the stories in this collection are clearly rewrites of one another same basic plot same character types Also making this worth the time of any aficionado of MacDonald or detective fiction writing in general is that the last section of this book features beginnings of incomplete stories fragments that MacDonald never ended up using If you love the detective from The Chill or The Underground Man this ain tim Nearly all the short stories come from the time Ross MacdonaldKevin Millar was following the Chandler school pre 1958 so the empathetic inuiring edition of Lew Archer is mostly absent except for a Spanish-American Short Stories / Cuentos hispanoamericanos handful of stories toward the end and interestingly an unpublished story from 1950 called Strangers in Town later cannibalized for The Ivory Grin and the short story Gone Girl Still some of the stories carry an emotional wallop especially The Suicide and Midnight Blue and Macdonald s penchant for intricate plotting appears in even these short pieces Also unexpectedly interesting the first pages fragments of possible Archer stories from Macdonald s notes gathered together in a back section called Case Notes All too brief but they re wonderful short pieces in themselves even if they wind up like the Sherlock stories Dr John Watson mentions but never writes. Notes as it were from the files of Lew Archer Edited by Macdonald biographer Tom Nolan The Archer Files is prefaced with Nolan s biographical sketch of Lew Archerimself the character Eudora Welty described as a champion and a distinguished creation As a detective and as a man Broken Bear he takes theuman situation with full seriousness Jeff Wong s cover is adapted from the 1955 paperback original but depicting Ross Macdonald rather than Lew Archer.

THE UNDERGROUND MAN and THE GOODBYE LOOK back to back in 1972 and was staggered by their excellence Afterwards I collected all of Macdonald s titles In the sixties the first four THE MOVING TARGET THE DROWNING POOL THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE and THE IVORY GRIN were published by Pocket Books and scarcer than Bantam s editions although I remember problems sourcing THE ZEBRA STRIPED HEARSE and THE CHILL You could find them if you combed through enough used book storesForgive the digression regarding Macdonald s oeuvre THE ARCHER FILES isn t afterthought leftovers it s a necessary and important part of the compleat Lew Archer As indispensable as the novels I ve been reading Ross Macdonald for 40 years since I read my first The Instant Enemy It was a great Saturday that I dedicated reading one of Enna Burning his books in a day a great journey through the backwaters of California and aidden Hatter history Less showy than Chandler but with interesting plots that resonate His writing is smooth and entertaining and Lew Archer a great companion to Philip Marlowe Here Tom Nolan prefaces the collection with an intriguing biography of Archer pieced together from a sharp study of the works and then we dive into the short stories All enjoyable as they are it is the case notes that intrigue starts of books that were never finished They could just as easily be first chapters cut from published works they feel so much like first chapters in final form and what books they wouldave led to They are such teases to great investigations that didn t Paint the Wind happen But they inspire me to go back and start at the beginning of the Lew Archer series and enjoy the journey again These are almost novella rather than short story length and they follow macdonald s usual pattern of mysteries with buried domestic secrets crimesiding each other For me they are also a cultural istory of developing California post war as the state was taking off the motels roadhouses cars and free ways as well as a population of people coming out of the depression and WWII along with the wealthy There is also something slightly febrile even neurotic about the atmosphere mid century jitters and a society just getting used to psychoanalysis so that everyone including archer is a bit brittle This book is essential to anyone who as a serious interest in the evolution of Ross Macdonald s Lew Archer The Perfect Resume his origins and development It contains the complete text of the first Archer anthology of stories The Name is Archer 1955 two lost early works Death by Water and Strangers in Town and three later short stories first printed in Lew ArcherPrivate Investigator1977 In addition it offers sixty pages of Case Notes fourteen separate expositions for uncompleted Archer novels or stories some merely abandoned and others later re used and transformed Of the new completed stories I found Strangers in Town the most interesting Some of Strangers Macdonald re used in one of the best short works ofis early period Guilt Edged Blonde and the rest The Centurion Code he transformed into The Ivory Grin one ofis successful early novels The changes are all for the better as always it is gratifying to observe a master craftsman at work The fourteen fragments vary in uality but each is so characteristically Archer that I found myself thoroughly enjoying each of them even though I knew none of them would ever be brought to a satisfying Ross Macdonald conclusionThen again I m a die Antropologia da Criança hard Macdonald fan For anybody else My Name of Archer is a sufficient sample ofis shorter fiction Four stars is Air Terisak Membelah Batu how much I enjoyed this though in the end most of the stories were just okay There wereowever a few that felt very full with satisfying mysteries The Bearded Lady from 1948 The Angry Man 1955 and Midnight Blue from 1960 COUNTDOWN Mid 20th Century North American Crime BOOKNovella 111 of 250Gone Girl is the novella of focus Canned here One must wonderow often this title GIFTED--2005 POETRY COLLECTION has been usedHOOK 4 stars It was a Friday night I was toolingome from the Mexican border in a light blue convertible and a dark blue mood That second line is so typical of Ross MacDonald an author light on style and eavy on substance and for me it s worth a 4th star it doesn t call attention to itself doesn t feel overwrought like Chandler or Hammett at times it. The first time collects all the brief Archer fiction the stories from Macdonald s 1955 paperback original The Name Is Archer the additional tales included in the Otto Penzler edited 1977 volume Lew Archer Private Investigator and the three then unknown novellas presented in Crippen Landru s 2001 book Strangers in Town Also included in The Archer Files are several lengthy never before published fragments of unfinished Macdonald stories case.

Ross Macdonald is the pseudonym of the American Canadian writer of crime fiction