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The Moving Target (Lew Archer Series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Like many Southern California millionaires, Ralph Sampson keeps odd company. There's the sun-worshipping holy man whom Sampson once gave his very own mountain; the fading actress with sidelines in astrology and S&M. Now one of Sampson's friends may have arranged his kidnapping.
As Lew Archer follows the clues from the canyon sanctuaries of the megarich to jazz joints where you get beaten up between sets, The Moving Target blends sex, greed, and family hatred into an explosively readable crime novel.
Lew Archer was possibly the ultimate father figure and Ross Macdonald is probably still best read as a young man, preferably in a bus station at 1 AM, with everything you own in a backpack, waiting for a bus to somewhere/anywhere else.-- "Kevin Burton Smith"
This is hard-boiled detective writing at the top of its form.-- "Library Journal" --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B004DEPH7U
- Publisher : Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reprint edition (December 8, 2010)
- Publication date : December 8, 2010
- Language : English
- File size : 1914 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 257 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #106,037 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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The Lew Archer character adopts a just-the-facts voice that is reminiscent of Jack Webb's character in the 1950s / 1960s Los Angeles TV series, Dragnet. Yet Archer is more nuanced, an interesting combination of urbane city dweller, astute observer of the human condition, and bare-knucked (when necessary) bulldog, with dose of ex-cop cynicism and a never-wavering sense of moral propriety.
The pacing of the story is realistic yet easily should satisfy the modern reader, and, at least to this reader, the story is plenty entertaining. Where the book truly stands out, though, especially in the context of today's mass-published, seemingly rushed crime novels whose editors seemingly were asleep at the wheel or distracted by social media, is in the quality of the writing and editing. In short, this book represents the apogee of the detective novel craft.
I have been conducting a survey of American Mystery Noir form the 1920's, 30's, 40's, and 50's. Of the novels that I have thus far read in this category, this is my favorite. American Society has evolved since 1920. Certain terminology about ethicity and gender are no longer acceptable. While I don't believe at all in censorship, and contnue to read novels as written, as a reviewer I want to enable readers to either avoid the "cringe factor" or be alert to its presence. This particular novel seems more erudite and less crass than many novels in this category.
The setting for this novel is Sante Teresa, California. This is a fictional city. The reason I mention this is that Sante Teresa, California is also the setting of Sue Grafton's "Kinsey Millhone" novels. Sue Grafton's writing puts me in mind of Ross Mcdonald. Her fiction is somewhat lighter and has some comedic aspect that this novel does not have. This novel is excellent, but it is definitely Noir.
In summary, I really like this novel. This is my favorite thus far of American Crime Noir from this period. I read the novel on Kindle and listened to the audiobook simultaneously. The audiobook is also excellent. However with intricate writing of scenery, I also need to reread and re listen. for me this is really worth the effort. Thank You...
I will admit, i came across a few unsavory similes like a car that was "...acned with rust..." a line Raymond Chandler found distasteful, but overall it is a book worth reading. Ross MacDonald is more cerebral here by fleshing out the characters a bit more and exploring them psychologically. Even the killers aren't all the bad.
This being my first Lew Archer book, I have to say that I found it very suspenseful and thrilling and I look forward to read more of his adventures.
Top reviews from other countries
Best book ever? No, but I did like it enough to know that the investment made in the other books won't have been wasted.
A missing billionaire and a ransom note and a case for Lew Archer....... a dysfunctional family, love triangles, tension, jealousy, a cult, an investigation, more death along the way and answers.
I read this about a month ago and I'm kind of struggling to remember all the twists and plot points and leads, mis-steps, characters and incidents in the book, which doesn't mean to say I didn't like it. It's more a reflection on my memory and perhaps an indicator that I ought to jot things down as I go along or shortly after if I want to offer some coherent thoughts on my reading (mostly for my own benefit as I look back).
I like older books where there's no reliance on technology to locate people, through either mobile phone triangulations or credit card transactions, where computers take the legwork out of investigations. This one is before my time, but it's the close to the world I grew up in. I think it's a book which has aged well.
Other plus points.... California setting; a decent, likable main character; a cohesive plot which made sense and didn't require any suspension of disbelief, one which isn't overly reliant on incident or action to maintain my interest.
It made a bit of a change from my usual reading and along with some other older books I've recently read - Ed McBain (50s), Sjowall and Wahloo (60s), David Craig aka Bill James (70s) - it's breathed a bit of old new life into my favourite passion.
4 from 5
Ross Macdonald wrote nearly twenty Lew Archer books as well as a few other novels. The Drowning Pool is the second in the series and the next one I'll be reading.
Read - June, 2020
Published - 1949
Page count - 196
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback
This, the first ever Lew Archer private detective novel, was written by John Macdonald in 1949. Macdonald was one of the greatest twentieth century crime writers but changed his name in later novels and reprints to John ‘Ross’ Macdonald or simply Ross Macdonald to avoid confusion with the other rising crime author John D. MacDonald.
In the early Lew Archer novels the shades of noir are apparent. The slowly populating California that we meet here has a wild and hollow atmosphere still in a transitional void after the Second World War. At one point Archer tracks a suspect to a coastal bar where the large dance floor is half deserted with an empty orchestra stand and the music emanating from a jukebox. Customers can remember better days when the place was jumping. Adjusting to peacetime has empty moments like this throughout, as if caught between certainties.
The Moving Target begins with Archer taking a cab to an exclusive area of wealthy homes to meet his client, a bored and beautiful rich man’s wife, paralysed from a riding fall, but afraid that her older husband is giving away his money when drunk. He has temporarily disappeared and she wants Archer to find him. Throw in a twenty-year-old stepdaughter, a handsome young pilot who the daughter fawns on unrequitedly and a forty-year-old lawyer who thinks he has a chance with the daughter, and as Lew observes in this first-person narrative, “It was a triangle, but not an equilateral one”.
Ahead of its time is an understanding of the growing narcotics problem that would permeate the west coast state in later years. Like the references to astrology in this tale it’s deftly handled as part of someone’s character, embodied again in a woman, this time a nightclub singer, but easily missed if you hadn’t encountered an addict in real life – and what average provincial reader in the late 1940s would?
Although the main crime in the story will involve kidnapping and murder, Archer discovers another local lucrative criminal activity – the smuggling of illegal immigrants in from Mexico. Seventy years later this was still a big issue in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Some of this highly intelligent, articulate and sad story I remember from seeing the film in the 1960s (called Harper in the US). The movie, in colour and with a Sixties’ beat, followed the postwar novel fairly closely despite the seventeen years that separated book and film, transforming its lonely noir undertones into a more hip and swinging California.