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The Drowning Pool (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) [Kindle Edition]

Ross MacDonald
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $4.96 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

When a millionaire matriarch is found floating face-down in the family pool, the prime suspects are her good-for-nothing son and his seductive teenage daughter. In The Drowning Pool, Lew Archer takes this case in the L.A. suburbs and encounters a moral wasteland of corporate greed and family hatred--and sufficient motive for a dozen murders.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

Most writers who work in a specific genre such as science fiction or detective stories write with a comfortable narrowness, their ambitions constricted by well-worn conventions; a rare few attain something much deeper, as the scope of their explorations and the originality of their prose operate in a kind of tension with the genre's confines. Ross Macdonald is one such writer. In a series of 25 novels written between 1944 and 1976, all but five featuring Lew Archer as protagonist, Macdonald picked up the baton dropped by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and took the genre to new heights.

The Drowning Pool, first published in 1950, is the second Lew Archer novel. It opens in classic hard-boiled fashion, with a well-dressed woman hesitantly engaging Archer's services at his L.A. office. Soon he's digging up secrets in her oil-rich hometown, and the themes that preoccupied Macdonald throughout his career begin to emerge: tormented families, buried secrets that fester through multiple generations, environmental destruction, concealed paternity, and the brutal contrast between rich and poor. Macdonald's later novels--including The Galton Case (1959), The Chill (1964), and The Underground Man (1971)--showed increased maturity and a tone less tied to tradition, but The Drowning Pool returns to the virtues that are the hallmarks of Mcdonald's work: complex and compelling plotting, psychological depth, just enough mayhem, and highly economical prose that routinely rises to something near poetry.

From Library Journal

Published in 1965, 1963, and 1950, respectively, this trio feature Macdonald's hard-boiled private detective Lew Archer. The plots involve murder, deceit, blackmail, sex, and all those other goodies that make for great crime stories.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1186 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 31, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,737 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ross MacDonald was a true artist. February 27, 2002
A Ross MacDonald is like an extremely well crafted 1950's black & white noir movie. Nothing comes through in it's true color, everything is projected in shades of gray, the action is stately yet never drags, and the characters are all vaguely threatening.
All of MacDonald's novels exhibit certain basic themes--tormented families, buried secrets that fester through multiple generations, environmental destruction, and the brutal contrast between rich and poor. The key to MacDonald's long running success was Archers realism and authenticity, MacDonald's ability to craft complex yet understandable stories, his mastery of language, and his ability to generate a specific atmosphere of threatening suspense on a consistent basis.
All of the above referenced themes are present in The Drowning Pool, which I think is MacDonald's best novel, though The Underground Man is right up there as well.
MacDonald's novels aren't just mind candy-reading him is a literary experience. I believe that is why he was successful in a sort of restrained way. Escapists will not get into these books-they are too cerebral. If you want to your books affect you, MacDonald and Archer are your kind of guy's.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I hesitate to call this a classic because some people consider "classics" as dull and out-dated. And there's nothing dull or out-dated here (well, maybe that paying $10 to be driven from Las Vegas to L. A. is a bit out of date).
Archer's hired to discover who sent his client's husband a letter accusing her of infidelity. Introduced to the family and friends at a party as a Hollywood agent, he is sensitive to the growing tension and explosive atmosphere. The reader knows of course that somebody's going to be murdered, but these early chapters are among the most skillfully written to build suspense that I've ever read.
Written in 1950, the inclusion of a homosexual couple was quite daring although there is not graphic description, and isn't significant enough a factor of the plot to either offend or attract a reader.
Read this and I'm sure you'll find it on your own list of crime classics.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best fifties LA noir January 2, 2001
I'm not a big fan of detective series because they tend to become robotic in plot and characterization, but the Ross MacDonald/Lew Archer series is an exception. Crisp language, tight plots, and geat dialog make for a gripping story.
A sad sidenote. Don't rent/watch the insipid Paul Newman/Joanne Woodward movie 'loosely' based on the book. Instead of LA they set it in New Orleans and they basically rearranged all the characters into pale versions of their literary counterparts. Just thought I'd let you know.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hardboiled Masterpiece. December 17, 2004
In this skillfully written tale of murder and intrigue, Ross MacDonald manages to "out Chandler" Raymond Chandler. It's Southern California, circa 1950, and hardboiled detective Lew Archer finds himself traversing the same landscapes Chandler's Philip Marlowe does in The Big Sleep, High Window and The Long Goodbye.

The plot of The Drowning Pool is complex enough to be interesting without being convoluted or forced. Greed, blackmail, homosexuality and family dysfunction all play roles in advancing the nicely paced narrative. Thrown in for good measure are seductive women, a number of action scenes and a Lolita like teenager named Cathy.

MacDonald's very descriptive prose is quite effective. And there's plenty of memorable dialogue. My personal favorite: "Your reminiscences fascinate me. May I take notes?"

You'd be hard pressed to find a more satisfying example of noir crime writing. An enthusiastic 5 stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thorougly excellent March 16, 2000
MacDonald was not only the heir to craftwork of Hammett and Chandler, he may well have brought this particular strain of crime fiction to its pinacle. This being my first MacDonald novel, I found his plot work to be intriguing yet completely coherent (sadly, I can't say that for Chandler), and his prose to be pitch - perfect. If RM had a shortcoming as a writer, it might be that his characters are a little underdeveloped. He manages to weave darker, transgressive noir themes into the story without being crude or providing shock of its own sake. I can't wait to get my hands on more of MacDonald's work!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dashiell's Hammett's heir goes him one better June 20, 2000
Ross MacDonald is usually compared to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. However Lew Archer is never hard-bitten (despite hard-bitten experience) as Hammett and Chandler's detectives are. In Lew Archer, MacDonald creates a wholly sympathetic detective with loads of angst or emotions more akin to Dave Robicheaux (James Lee Burke's detective). That is, his life is not just something he's surviving -- he is experiencing it. There is violence, but the violence is secondary to the feelings and atmosphere of the story. It differs from an Agatha Christie mystery where you come to admire her ability to fit a plot puzzle together. With the Drowning Pool, there is more a feeling that this is a tragedy rather than a detective story. The Drowning Pool shows themes that run throughout MacDonald's mysteries -- multi-generational sins of the father being visited upon the children, sincs with long roots and branches, dysfunctional families. MacDonald's talent lies in infusing his stories with dark atmospheres that generally has not been translated well onto the silver screen. Paul Newman playing Lew Archer is much more light-hearted than the book. Melanie Griffith plays the seductive daughter in the movie. I remember the first time I saw the movie that I was surprised that Melanie's mother (whom I didn't know was Tippi Hedren at the time) would allow her 14 year old to project such sexuality. I don't think that Melanie was acting the part because she went on to live with Don Johnson shortly after the movie.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Another thriller from Ross Macdonald!
Published 1 month ago by FuzzyBlackLips
1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous first chapter setup
The Drowning Pool by Ross MacDonald flunked my chapter 1 criterion for reading further. Suppose you were a private detective. Read more
Published 4 months ago by William C. Mead
5.0 out of 5 stars Great author, great mystery writer.
Great story. I think he tells it better than the movie. His work is interesting to read. He leads you on a journey from one suspect, one motive to another. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kathy
4.0 out of 5 stars A Master of the Metaphor!
This is Ross McDonald's second novel. It shows flashes of the fine writer he will become, but it's a little heavy-handed. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joyce Harty
5.0 out of 5 stars great story well told
great story well told.
on the negative side- my copy of the book came without the last two pages missing - extremely disappointing
Published 5 months ago by wieslaw krolikowski
5.0 out of 5 stars I love the era
This guy is a hoot. I love the era.
Published 7 months ago by Charlene Strauss
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Archers second adventure takes us into sordid private lives and he handles it in his own fashion. The book and the movie are both excellent.
Published 18 months ago by D. Campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and thrilling
Having already read a good number of plays by Macdonald I found the "Drowing Pool" really well constructed and with very good secondary characters. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Joaquin Nieto
5.0 out of 5 stars Very satisfied
I enjoy Ross MacDonald very much. If you are looking for stories with a noir flare and vintage appeal then you will like them as well.
Published 20 months ago by Suzi
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard novel to care about
The Drowning Pool is a difficult novel for me to recommend. From the first scene between Archer and his client RMcD lays a heavy hand on his usually much more deft touch. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Kindle Customer
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