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Find a Victim: A Lew Archer Novel [Paperback]

Ross Macdonald
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 14 2001 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Las Cruces wasn’t a place most travelers would think to stop. But after Lew Archer plays the good samaritan and picks up a bloodied hitchhiker, he finds himself in town for a few days awaiting a murder inquest. A hijacked truck full of liquor and an evidence box full of marijuana, $20,000 from a big time bank heist by a small time crook, corruption, adultery, incest, prodigal daughters and abused wives all make the little town seem a lot more interesting than any guide book ever could. And as the murder rate rises, Archer finds himself caught up in mystery where everyone is a suspect and everyone’s a victim.

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Product Details

Product Description

From Library Journal

Though it doesn't have much of a title, this Lew Archer whodunit finds the gumshoe stopping over in a small town for an inquest. The seemingly quiet community reveals itself to be a hive of incest, corruption, dope dealing, and stolen booze. All in a day's work for a hard-boiled private investigator. This 1954 volume is for all mystery collections.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“The writing is incisive and perceptive…forceful and fast-past…powerful and personal…a strange and haunting blend.”–The New York Times Book Review

“[Ross Macdonald] carried form and style about as far as they would go, writing classic family tragedies in the guise of private detective mysteries.”–The Guardian

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
This is a typical private detective book from the post-WWII era. In it, as usual, the hero (Lew Archer) is accidentally involved in a case, and then decides to pursue the case, even though DANGER is everywhere. There is the requisite amount of hero-being-beat-up stuff, combined with hero-beating-others-up. There are the "bad" girls, and the who-knows-what-they-are girls (or 'gals', perhaps). There are the seedy denizens of the seedy town doing seedy things. And those are just the cops! There is also the seedy motel owner and his dissatisfied wife. Also on hand is the young criminal (just graduated from the juvenile delinquent ranks) and the wise old man who has seen much heartache.
I suspect this book was pretty hot when it came out, but it's almost a parody of the genre today, sad to say. I can stand about one Ross MacDonald a year, just to give me some perspective on this part of the mystery/suspense scene, and Find a Victim is it for this year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and Entertaining Nov. 14 2003
I found this "typical" novel to be a refreshing read. If you enjoy Crime novels, then you'll enjoy "Find A Victim."
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fast Paced and Entertaining Nov. 14 2003
I enjoyed this book, as "typical" as it maybe, I think it's well worth a read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  12 reviews
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sex, murder, treachery. Nov. 22 2004
By Michael G. - Published on
Find a Victim is a classic example of California noir. While driving from L.A. to Sacramento, ace private eye Lew Archer stumbles upon a city known as Las Cruces where sordid secrets abound. Archer is a card carrying member of the hardboiled school of criminal investigation. He's a tough customer who can take a beating as well as render one if necessary.

Early in the narrative, a truck driver is murdered. As Archer seeks to solve this particular crime, he soon learns of a complex web of betrayal and deceit which binds together a number of Las Cruces' citizens.

This novel is about the seemier side of life. Illicit sex is a recurring theme, as are greed and jealousy.

MacDonald uses a highly descriptive type of prose, much of which is quite artfully written. And there are several distinct subplots which are all tied together at the story's dramatic conclusion. Though I found the narrative to be more convoluted than necessary, I have no trouble recommending Find a Victim to anyone who likes their mysteries hardboiled.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detective fiction at its finest Feb. 19 2010
By Peter - Published on
This book is regarded as one of MacDonald's lesser works as certain parts of the storyline appear contrived and a little in the pulp fiction territory of the day (eg the book starts off with Lew Archer driving along a highway and finding a man shot and needing help), I can understand this sentiment and in relation to MacDonald's other Archer books, this novel is weaker but it is still highly acceptable.

The Lew Archer series dealt with the sins of the past catching up on families and what could happen if people tried to eradicate those past sins.

It is not ultra-violent and there are no scenes in the books that make you wish you hadn't read them (unlike some crime books today). It is simply the best detective fiction ever written.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Archer and his "messianic complex" April 6 2012
By Booker G - Published on
"Find a Victim" is the usual fare from Ross Macdonld, meaning Lew Archer once again gets involved with an incestuous group of grim and miserable people who are suspects in at least one murder. This time around Archer is on his way to Sacramento on business when he finds a dying man along the side of the highway near the town of Las Cruces. Archer takes it upon himself to bring the man to the first hotel he finds, from which he plans to call for an ambulance. What he doesn't know when he drives up to the hotel is that the people he meets there are intimately involved in the mess Archer is about to step into and which he can't walk away from.

This book is different from the previous early series entries in that Archer is not on a case but sticks his nose into business unrelated to his own anyway. His messianic complex, as he describes his need to help those who seem helpless, takes over. As usual, he stirs up a great deal of dislike for himself as well as general chaos that eventually leads to the culprits revealing themselves. Of course, there are beautiful women who cling to Archer in their distress. There are clashes with the local law enforcement. There is family dysfunction.

Macdonald reveals a few gems about Archer in this book. There is a brief discussion on why his marriage ended and a few sentences about his own delinquency in growing up in Los Angeles and how it came to an end. There are also references to his time on Okinawa during the World War II battle there. I really think these tidbits add to the book.

Despite the repetition of many elements, Macdonald finds a way to make each case fresh. One thing he does is have new settings in California for each book. Most are near Los Angeles, but he still makes them seem unique with his scenery description. Using a small town inland and north of LA provides a nice change in this book.

Macdonald writes his books using many interesting metaphors. Sometimes they work wonderfully, and other times they seem silly. His dialogue is a little hokey at times, but that seems to be part of the noir genre and thus inevitable.

For more mystery series that may entertain you, check out my website describing and reviewing many series (see my Amazon profile for the URL).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember the good Samaritan? June 4 2010
By John Gill - Published on
"He was the ghastliest hitchhiker who ever thumbed me." This is the opening sentence of Ross MacDonald's Find a Victim. The victim is the driver of a truck load of alcohol which has been hijacked, he doesn't make it to hospital and Lew Archer is off on another mission. Find a client, find a crook, seek justice. These goals and being beaten up are central to the normal Lew Archer mission. There is no shortage of damsels in distress. As things move along we begin to see that things are more complex than they seem, and Ross MacDonald generously lest us spot the real villains a bit before Lew works it out. 215 action packed pages. Will Lew find true love?
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding a victim June 22 2014
By Januari M Works - Published on
John MacDonald likes those complicated character plots and this one certainly doesn't miss a bet. So many people, each one with their own agenda. If you are a multi taster, you'll like this read.
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