Guide The Ivory Grin (Lew Archer Series, Book 4)

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More about Ross Macdonald's life and the career of his famous fictional detective. David Bowman's intriguing look at the real-life tragedy that haunted Ross Macdonald, and shaped his fiction. Originally published in Salon. To celebrate, the online literary magazine January published a major tribute, an impressive series of essays and interviews related to the author and his works. And January's crime editor J. Kingston Pierce weighed in with a moving intro, itself worth the price of admission. And I guess I should mention I have a piece in it, too, but I think I'm there to cleanse the palate between the real writers An article from the November 2, issue of The Boston Globe by Leonard Cassuto that reveals and discusses Macdonald's plans for the final Archer book, unfortunately never completed.

In his final LOA essay, Nolan outlines how the Millar's marriage affected their work, and the repercussions it had on their lives. Pictured above is Paul Newman as "Harper," in the film of the same name. Copyright , thrillingdetective. All rights reserved. I was tooling home from the Mexican border in a light blue convertible and a dark blue mood. After a while, I could see the steady blue pulse in her temple, the beating of the silent hammer that meant she was still alive.

I hoped that the blue hammer would never stop. And all the other members of the family know that. They make allowances for the one in trouble The trouble is that most of them are married. Of course, the room was large and reasonably well-lighted, and the girl had other things than me on her mind. In the end, you read Macdonald because of the beauty and care put forth in the writing itself, and his insights into human nature. I agree that the The Galton Case is the exemplary Macdonald novel, but you would be hard-pressed to find a bad one in the bunch. Playing Hammer: Brian Keith.

Can you think of another actor who could play both Hammer and Archer? In fact, at the risk of being heretical, Macdonald was a much better novelist than Chandler. I just like the nastiness of the plot and the sharpness of the dialogue. Buy this book Kindle it! Find a Victim Buy this book The Doomsters Buy this book The Galton Case Buy this book The Wycherly Woman The Zebra-Striped Hearse Buy this book The Chill Buy this book The Far Side of the Dollar Buy this book Black Money Buy this book The Instant Enemy Buy this book The Goodbye Look The Underground Man Sleeping Beauty The Blue Hammer The Archer Files Remove from wishlist failed.

Adding to library failed. Please try again. Free with day Trial. See all titles by Ross MacDonald. Looking for more? Listeners also enjoy. Lawrence Block. Raymond Chandler.


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Dashiell Hammett. John D. Erle Stanley Gardner. Finally--and I must be vague here to prevent a spoiler--the "ivory grin" referred to in the title is the source of an incredibly obvious metaphor--so obvious that one of the characters makes a joke of it--and yet this metaphor turns out to be one of the keys to solving the mystery. I think the device is used a little crudely here, but Macdonald employs the same sort of thing much more successfully in the superb mystery "The Underground Man. View all 4 comments.

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May 14, Evgeny rated it really liked it Shelves: crime-and-mystery. A wealthy-looking woman came to hire Lew Archer to find her missing maid who supposedly stole some of her jewelry. She sounded fishy for everybody with intellect higher than that of a six-year-old child, so Archer had his reservations about taking the assignment, but it sounded simple and harmless enough - he was to just tail the maid and report on the people she saw to his client - so he accepted.

As a special bonus for accepting the questionable assignment he gets to witness and participate in A wealthy-looking woman came to hire Lew Archer to find her missing maid who supposedly stole some of her jewelry. As a special bonus for accepting the questionable assignment he gets to witness and participate in the full set of noir tropes first-hand. Please note that the only reason I talk about standard tropes here is to avoid spoilers as much as possible. Ross Macdonald can and does make them all look fresh and exciting.

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Femme fatale? I felt bad for her; she was just a woman trying to survive in a hostile environment. Tough gangster?

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I cannot say anything without giving huge spoilers, but take my word for it: he is not usual run-of-the-mill noir gangster. Families with skeletons in the closet? Plenty of them in here and I think the author is the grand master when it comes to this particular trope; he might have not invented it, but he most definitely perfected this one. This novel made me understand something which puzzled me for a long time. As much as I like classic noir I really could not care less about modern thrillers despite the fact that these two genres are fairly close related to each other, like cousins.

Most of the modern thrillers are as straightforward as a shortest path between two points in Euclidean geometry. I have troubles suspending my disbelief as I know this is not how real life works. Take this book. It took me about three fourths of it just to understand what is going on - people with no connections to each other kept dying for seemingly no reason. This is coming from a person who played guess the villain with Agatha Christie books with some degree of success. I also challenge anybody to call this particular ending Happily Ever After and keep a straight face.

So to summarize: this is the second book of the series in the row which confirmed my opinion of Ross Macdonald as a classic of noir. View all 11 comments.


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Apr 13, Kirk rated it really liked it. This is the first time Archer went all sociologically profound on our genre-loving asses, and there's pros and cons. Chester Himes could take these stereotypes and give them some flash and panachemainy by infusing them with anger and aggressionbut we're still decades away from the fully dimensioned characters of Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins.

But we're talking about here. Board of Education even.

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So for R-Mac Daddy to venture across the tracks, so to speak, took some gump. Ultimately, the Ivory Grin is the death grimace of segregation, even if the title refers to a literal skeleton in somebody else's closet. And we give Archer props for being on the right side of history, unlike any number of other noir writers in the same era who might as well have written under the alias Bull Connor.

As usual, the plot feels a bit improvised, with more staged revelations than the New Testament. Still, Archer is a blast of a herohardboiled but not stylized, he seems as real as they come. Perhaps high expectations of Ross MacDonald's stuff is responsible for this book not rocking my world. I enjoyed it but there was something lacking that would've made me love it. So far I can't really put my finger on what it was.

Fiction, Mystery & Detective Book Review: The Ivory Grin by - Ross MacDonald

Lew Archer is a great protagonist for the genre; a mean, self serving PI with a penchant for hard boiled dialogue. Ross MacDonald's prose is filled with fantastic observations of both people and places. The plot is wonderfully convoluted, not too confusing but not too str Perhaps high expectations of Ross MacDonald's stuff is responsible for this book not rocking my world. The plot is wonderfully convoluted, not too confusing but not too straight-forward either and the secondary characters all except Archer to be fair are well rounded, believable and pretty much 'individuals' as far as secondary characters in pulp noir fiction go.

But still it didn't grab me the way other books and other writers of the genre have in the past. Maybe next time?

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I hope so. View 2 comments. Mar 13, James Love rated it really liked it Shelves: action , kindle-edition , fiction , crime-noir , adventure , mystery , suspense , thriller , pulp-fiction , Lewis Archer is hired to track a nurse passing for white and discovers her body in a run down motel.

Macdonald attacks the racism and police brutality of 's California with dark humor and dry wit. Jan 08, Greg rated it really liked it Shelves: reviewed , 20th-century , hard-boiled-private-eye , midth-century-american-crime. But the author doesn't deliver on that premise.

Perhaps Ross Macdonald would have liked to, but it's and we're a long way from the Civil Rights Act: most ideas would have fallen on deaf ears. Una wants Archer to find a 'colored girl who used to work for' Una. According to Una, Lucy had left and taken ruby earrings and a gold necklace. Archer tells her to go to the police.