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Sleeping Beauty Audio, Cassette – November 18, 1997
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"A bright, original score, vibrant sound effects and polished performances are the draws for Sleeping Beauty.... Crowd noises, telephone bells and screeching tires add urgency to a smoothly edited production ... [the] thirty-five actors ... were obviously well-rehearsed." -- Rochelle O'Gorman Flynn, Los Angeles Times, May 24, 1998
"Macdonald would have loved this dramatized version...The dialogue is as snappy and fresh as [he] intended." -- Robin Whitten, AudioFile, June 1997
"The finest series of detective novels ever written." -- The New York Times
Audie Award Winner for Best Audiobook Adapted from Another Medium -- From the Publisher
The Publishers Marketing Association Benjamin Franklin Award Winner for Best Audiobook -- Adult Fiction. -- Publishers Marketing Association
From the Inside Flap
In Sleeping Beauty, Lew Archer finds himself the confidant of a
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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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. In the early 1970s Millar and his wife Margaret Millar (also a successful mystery author) helped lead protests following the large oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. Many of the Archer stories take place in and around Santa Teresa, a fictionalized version of Santa Barbara.
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).
At the same time, the youngest member of the Lennox family, William's married granddaughter, Laurel Lennox Russo has disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As Lew Archer searches high and low for beautiful and troubled Laurel, he uncovers a twisted saga of family dysfunction, duplicity and murder that goes back 25 years and more.
It's not hard to see the parallels between the two storylines. Drilling for oil in geologically unstable offshore terrain is likely to result in disaster. In a similar fashion, a family dynasty held together by a matrix of lies and deceit may implode upon itself at any given time.
Sleeping Beauty is worthy of a 5 star rating for a number of reasons. The characters are interesting and well fleshed out. The dialogue is authentic sounding. Macdonald's descriptive prose, always first rate, is particularly brilliant here. Moreover, the wickedly complex plot all comes together in the final pages.
Ross Macdonald wrote this novel toward the end of a very long and prolific literary career. The decades of experience show.