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The Blue Hammer (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – April 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307279065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307279064
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The desert air is hot with sex and betrayal, death and madness and only Archer can make sense of a killer who makes murder a work of art. Finding a purloined portrait of a leggy blonde was supposed to be an easy paycheck for Detective Lew Archer, but that was before the bodies began piling up. Suddenly, Archer find himself smack in the middle of a decades-long mystery of a brilliant artist who walked into the desert and simply disappeared. He left behind a bevy of muses, molls, dolls, and dames—each one scrambling for what they thought was rightfully theirs.

About the Author

Ross Macdonald's real name was Kenneth Millar. Born near San Francisco in 1915 and raised in Ontario, Millar returned to the U.S. as a young man and published his first novel in 1944. He served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America and was awarded their Grand Master Award as well as the Mystery Writers of Great Britain's Gold Dagger Award. He died in 1983.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Lots of twists and turns...a real page turner.
D. Laslo
The story begins slow as the tension and questions build, but the conclusion if a let down after the skillful plotting.
Nash Black
Raymond Chandler is the great model for Macdonald, and, along with Doyle and Sayers, are my favorite mystery writers.
Mack Garner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mack Garner on March 18, 2006
Format: Audio Cassette
This is, sadly to say, the last book that Kenneth Millar wrote before his eventually fatal illness. It is also, perhaps, the best. I say perhaps because his last fifteen or so books are so good that there is really no way to make any significant distinctions between them.

Like all Lew Archer books, this one features a large number of characters,many of whom are related to or have been involved with each other in in the past that they all wish was dead, but never is. This book, too begins with a small investigation, finding a missing person, but Archer always seems to be the pebble that starts the avalanche. The plot complicates, the pace quickens, the end comes like a Greek tragedy.

The plotting and suspence are wonderful, the setting is beautifully rendered, and the style is perfect. My wife is blind, and i have read many books to her. Macdonald and Tolkien are the best stylists we have run into.

I have read all of Macdonald's books at least twice and some of them several times. Like all the best books, even when you know how they turn out you still can't put them down.

Raymond Chandler is the great model for Macdonald, and, along with Doyle and Sayers, are my favorite mystery writers. Macdonald is better. I would rank him with Faulkner and Hemingway as one of the best American novelists of the Twentieth Century. I know there is a Library of America volume of Chandler. I hope soon we will have Macdonald as well. He deserves it.

Goodbye, Lew. It was an honor to know you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. VINE VOICE on December 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The Blue Hammer by Ross MacDonald is a tale of two cities. The coastal town of Santa Teresa, California and the isolated desert community of Copper City, Arizona. Chapter 1 finds veteran private eye Lew Archer at the Santa Teresa home of copper magnate Jack Biemeyer and his wife Ruth. He's been hired to locate a potentially valuable painting that is missing from their residence.
It doesn't take long for Archer to establish that the Biemeyer's flower child daughter, Doris, and her art student boyfriend, Fred Johnson, have something to do with the painting's disappearance. But the case takes a much more serious turn when, later that same night, the art dealer who originally sold the painting to Ruth Biemeyer is bludgeoned to death.
This intricately plotted mystery is less a story about stolen artwork or even murder than it is a study of family secrets reaching back over more than a generation. Lost love, jealousy, dysfunctional relationships, homosexuality and substance abuse all play a part in the interesting narrative that unfolds in the pages of this novel. And the ending is a really great one.
Well constructed and compelling, The Blue Hammer is first rate storytelling. Well worth reading.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 14, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is the second Ross MacDonald (Lew Archer) book that I have read. This was similar to the first one I read, "The Galton Case", in that it involved a twisted complex murder mystery involving a family and close acquaintances. Prior to reading "The Blue Hammer" I had read some negative reviews of the book. Maybe compared to MacDonald's other "Archer" novels "TBH" is weaker, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought this was a solid mystery and enjoy the "Archer" character very much. The only negative remark I can make about "TBH" is that there are so many characters in it that sometimes it gets confusing keeping up with them all. Having said that I still believe this is a solid piece of work, and for MacDonald's last installment in the "Archer" series I think he did a fine job. Now my problem is deciding which "Archer" book to read next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JoeV VINE VOICE on June 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the 18th and last adventure of LA private-eye Lew Archer. Lew is the "first generation progeny" of Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade and The Continental Op. (Lew's surname from Spade's partner Miles Archer.) The series is classic "hard-boiled", but much more than a cheap imitation of its predecessors - Lew and his "cases" standing on their own and the series spanning almost thirty years.

The Blue Hammer opens with our hero traveling to the fictional California town of Santa Teresa to hunt down a portrait - which may be missing or stolen, a forgery or the real thing, painted by an artist who may be dead or alive. And that's just the beginning, for as Lew pursues his case and the picture, everyone is giving him the "bum's rush" and there is plenty of dirt to sift through. By the time the "case" is wrapped up - Lew has solved a handful of murders, uncovered a very complicated ancestral tree, resolved an historical conundrum and fallen in love. All of this tying together literally in the last pages of the book. All in day's work for Lew though.

If you are fan of this genre you will not be disappointed with Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer series. The mysteries themselves are well worth the read and re-read, but what I find just as fascinating is the evolution of the times - our hero solving cases through the 1940's, 50's, 60's and 1970's - Each entry a little "time capsule" with Lew adapting to the changing mores, while staying true to his core code.
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