Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Sleeping Beauty Paperback – December 5, 2000
|New from||Used from|
Top 20 lists in Books
View the top 20 best sellers of all time, the most reviewed books of all time and some of our editors' favorite picks. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"Sleeping Beauty is particularly complex and satisfactory. . . . It is a marvelous formula that Macdonald has found; the wonder is that he keeps improving it." --Newsweek
"Ross Macdonald remains the grandmaster, taking the crime novel to new heights by imbuing it with psychological resonance, complexity of story, and richness of style that remain inspiring." --Jonathan Kellerman
From the Inside Flap
wealthy, violent family with a load of trouble on their hands--including an oil spill, a missing girl, a lethal dose of Nembutal, a six-figure ransom, and a stranger afloat, face down, off a private beach. Here is Ross Macdonald's masterful tale of buried memories, the consequences of arrogance, and the anguished relations between parents and their children. Riveting, gritty, tautly written, Sleeping Beauty is crime fiction at its best.
If any writer can be said to have inherited the mantle of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, it is Ross Macdonald. Between the late 1940s and his death in 1983, he gave the American crime novel a psychological depth and moral complexity that his pre-decessors had only hinted at. And in the character of Lew Archer, Macdonald redefined the private eye as a roving conscience who walks the treacherous frontier between criminal guilt and human sin.
More About the AuthorsDiscover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.
Top Customer Reviews
As Lew Archer's flight returns to Los Angeles from Mexico, he looks down upon a large oil spill extending for miles off Pacific Point. That evening along the coast he encounters a young, angry woman attempting to rescue oil-drenched sea birds. Before the night is out, Archer has been employed to rescue the woman herself, thought to have been kidnapped. Her grandfather is the patriarch of the imposing Lennox family, and chairman of the company that is responsible for the spreading oil slick.
Lew Archer is essential to MacDonald's mysteries, but not as an action figure. Archer's task is to unravel the psychological complexities that define his clients, the suspects, and the victims. Often the solution to a crime lays in the distant past; later generations sometimes pay severe penalties for old sins.
The Lennox family skeletons are many. The plot is complicated and twists unexpectedly as Archer uncovers buried family memories and hidden infidelities, some stretching back to World War II. Tautly told in the manner of a Chandler mystery, Sleeping Beauty is superb detective fiction.
Lew Archer is often mentioned in conjunction with Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe, and is generally deemed as their natural heir. The respected literary critic and writer, Anthony Boucher, even argued that Ross Macdonald was a better novelist than either Hammett or Chandler.
Ross MacDonald was a pseudonym for Kenneth Millar.Read more ›
Ross MacDonald's prose is simply pure art. He settles you into the tacky 40's through 60's of California and then contrasts the empty lives of the rich and the destitute. He exposes his characters as being very troubled and not very innocent. Archer, his guide/protagonist is dogged as the revelation of the true perpetrator(s) slowly emerges. Terse first person narration gives this novel a stunning sense of realism.
This is a really wonderful detective novel, a form of noir that is so special. Vintage Crime/Lizard Press has reissued most of the Archer series and they remain as vital, and entertaining as when they were first printed. I recommend working through the whole series of these wonderful reprints.
However, having read them all and having read most of them several times over, this in my opinion is the best by a far measure. The best of this series is perhaps the best of all detective novels. Chandler and Hammett did not have the power of prose that Ross MacDonald so effortlessly spins.
The book is one of MacDonald's last, and it has some of the overwrought quality that mar his later books, but this is only occasionally a distraction.
For those looking for other MacDonalds, the best are The Chill, Far Side of the Dollar, the Zebra-Striped Hearse, The Galton Case (all from 1959-65).
When I was a young man in the seventies, I was a devoted reader of Ross MacDonald. Since then, I have moved on to Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman and Lawrence Block. And many others. In digging through some old boxes of books I came across "Sleeping Beauty" by MacDonald. I remembered nothing about it except that it had impressed me long ago. So I reread it.
Unlike so much of current detective fiction, there is virtually no back story to PI Lew Archer here except for the fact that he is a former cop from Long Beach. In age when so many fictional detectives live in an ongoing soap opera, that was refreshing. For that reason, this novel makes a good place to start for the Archer uninitiated.
MacDonald's choice of plot lines for his novels varies little. The Archer novels usually start with a missing young person. Archer is hired. Three generations are introduced. A crime was committed decades earlier by the oldest generation. The next generation covered it up (and often got rich). Sins of the past come to haunt the third generation. All is on display here.
This novel requires and rewards close reading. It is not slam-bang hard boiled. It intricately picks apart the history of a family that has long been in denial about the rotten things done in the past.
Archer never gets shot, punched out or hit over the head in this book. As for gunplay, it's all off screen. What crime writer could pull this off today? Well, maybe Connelly.
Red herrings? A ton of them. Don't even try to guess the ending, which only appears on the final page. But it takes your breath away.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ross Macdonald is a master. My grandson is 12 and my mom is 90, and they both read him. I think he's even better than Raymond Chandler--and I love Raymond Chandler.Published 17 days ago by B. Janiszyn
Greatest mystery writer of all, at least of those I've read (and I've read quite a few). And this is among his top 2 or 3.Published 2 months ago by P.M.F. Johnson
This thriller is about an oil spill off the coast of California and its impact on the family owning the drilling concession. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Alfred J. Kwak
Lew Archer is trying to track down Laurel Russo, a troubled young woman and granddaughter of oil owners. She has apparently been abducted and held for a ransom of $100,000. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Barry Sparks
You almost needed a flow chart to follow all the characters. Very well done!Published 13 months ago by Joan L. Grumbach
Mr. Mcdonald writes like poetry. He may have been influenced by Hammett and Chandler, as the best crime writers are, but his descriptions, characters, plots are his own. Read morePublished on February 6, 2014 by Kathy