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The Far Side of the Dollar Paperback – Nov 26 1996

4 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reprint edition (Nov. 26 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553129147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553129144
  • ASIN: 0679768653
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #544,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ross MacDonald's (aka Kenneth Millar) Lew Archer novels are probably the greatest modern detective series ever, although the insistence of MacDonald to use the same formulaic elements in his books over and over and over again mean that the novels are better read individually than collectively. With that in mind, The Far Side Of The Dollar is your best bet, as it is the example of MacDonald's formula at its best and most poignant. Other superior Archer novels include The Chill, The Doomsters and The Zebra-Striped Hearse, in addition to the magnificent short story collection The Name Is Archer. Whichever Archer novel you decide to read, make sure to keep a scorecard, because the intricate plots make it hard to keep track of all the various characters and their relationships to one another.
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By A Customer on Aug. 12 1999
Format: Paperback
This was the third novel I have read by Ross McDonald and it is my favorite so far. The plot is complex and satisfying and the characters are well developed and three diminsional. What makes this novel stand out is that it is not just a good mystery, but it is also delves fairly deeply into the minds of its characters. It explores the complex relationships between the members of a highly dysfunctional family. All in all, very entertaining.
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By A Customer on Nov. 3 2001
Format: Paperback
Excellent example of Mac Donald's well honed style. Good character developments as well as excellent one-dimensional character 'vignettes' that serve as observation portholes into the seemy underbelly of society. As for its "monosyllabic tone", that's part of the effect, a la Hemingway. For readers (like the one below) who need long obscure words in EVERY piece of literature, there's always the dictionary...
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Format: Paperback
This book may be clean and lack 4 letter words but the writing style does not challenge the reader's mind. Plot is thin and the style is too monosyllabic for me. I prefer books from which I learn at least one new word.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa0f708c4) out of 5 stars 27 reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0db4324) out of 5 stars MacDonald's masterpiece June 9 2002
By Todd M. Pence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ross MacDonald's (aka Kenneth Millar) Lew Archer novels are probably the greatest modern detective series ever, although the insistence of MacDonald to use the same formulaic elements in his books over and over and over again mean that the novels are better read individually than collectively. With that in mind, The Far Side Of The Dollar is your best bet, as it is the example of MacDonald's formula at its best and most poignant. Other superior Archer novels include The Chill, The Doomsters and The Zebra-Striped Hearse, in addition to the magnificent short story collection The Name Is Archer. Whichever Archer novel you decide to read, make sure to keep a scorecard, because the intricate plots make it hard to keep track of all the various characters and their relationships to one another.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0db4378) out of 5 stars A substantive mystery. Aug. 20 2006
By Michael G. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chapter I of The Far Side of the Dollar finds veteran PI Lew Archer visiting a reform school for rich teenagers. Young Thomas Hillman a recent admission to the facility has gone AWOL and Archer has been hired by the school's headmaster to find him. A fairly straightforward case, right? Wrong. As in all Ross Macdonald novels, the plot becomes ever increasingly intricate as the narrative unfolds.

There's plenty of standard Ross Macdonald fare packed into the pages of this very engaging book. Family dysfunction that spans the generations, hidden blood relationships between characters, a young person's journey to claim a birthright heretofore denied as well as jealousy and greed leading to murder most foul.

The "readability" of The Far Side of the Dollar is greatly enhanced by its wonderfully insightful descriptive prose. Another very appealling aspect to this novel is the extremely vivid and at times emotionally wrenching way the characters are developed. Highly recommended.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0db4654) out of 5 stars The Far Side of the Dollar: worth every penny Sept. 28 2004
By Amy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ross MacDonald infuses eloquence into the lips of his tough detective, Lew Archer. In this mystery, Archer is hired to find the kidnapped son of a couple seriously alienated from one another. The teenage boy has fallen into the wrong hands, partly through his own doing, having run away from a reform school after finding out some startling facts about his background. The mastery the author exhibits as he describes emotions through imagery of the California landscape is poetic and conveys a sense of shattered lives. The reader feels as if the Pacific coast has been transformed into a map of one family's existential angst. This is a powerful mystery worth reading.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0db4b7c) out of 5 stars Ross MacDonald Lives On! Sept. 27 2010
By Joseph Lakewood - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been reading Ross MacDonald novels for over forty years now, and am currently in the process of rereading them all. In my view, he is the greatest of the thousands of American (he was Canadian, actually) detective novelists and the novels seem stronger now than when they first appeared forty or fifty years ago. MacDonald's detective Lew Archer is one of the most interesting of all fictional investigators, tough, smart, sensitive, and all too human. MacDonald is a great storyteller, and the plots are dazzling. What strikes me most after all of these years is the beauty of his very spare style, and his note-perfect recreation of post-war California. Every book from The Doomsters (1958) on is a masterpiece of the genre, and the five early Lew Archer novels are impressive, too, especially The Barbarous Coast. He is really writing Greek tragedies, under the guise of mystery thrillers. The Far Side of the Dollar is one of the gems of the whole series. I can't recommend this work too highly for anyone who appreciates literate detective fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0db4438) out of 5 stars Parents Just Don't Understand... April 6 2015
By M. Buzalka - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer books are formulaic in the best sense of the term. By the time of The Far Side of the Dollar (1965), MacDonald had worked out a template for the adventures of his serial detective, and he kept going back to it.

It generally starts with private eye Archer reluctantly taking on a fairly bland assignment that soon becomes more serious, usually because of a murder or, often, murders. There are seemingly disconnected people and incidents that, wouldn't you know it, start tying together, usually because of some buried skeletons in Archer's client's past. Then there are a few twists to spruce up the ending.

That is the basic plot of Far Side of the Dollar, as it is of The Chill, The Galton Case, The Doomsters and so on. Does this mean MacDonald is a one-trick pony? Well, if so, it's a very enjoyable trick, if only because MacDonald is a hell of a writer, just a step below Raymond Chandler, the master of them all, in my book.

Far Side of the Dollar does have a few novel elements to spice up the story further. One is a focus on the growing generation gap (the term had yet to be in wide use) between the emerging Baby Boomers and their elders as Archer deals with some very disaffected teens who prefigure Benjamin and Elaine from The Graduate (the movie was still a few years in the future though the book on which it is based was already published) or, more remotely, John Bender and Claire Standish from The Breakfast Club. Archer, an alienated kid himself when he was growing up, is sympathetic to their plight and his comments on the parent/child relationship are astute and priceless (at one point he remarks that for some parents, their kids only grow up for their entertainment).

The other novel element of Far Side of the Dollar is the usually dour Archer actually feeling pangs of romance for a one time fling who suddenly comes back into his life. MacDonald had been rationing out Archer's personal history very sparingly over the course of the series, so any new revelations always punch above their weight. Will this development survive this book? I don't know as I'm reading them chronologically, but it definitely added a bit of spice to the book's drama.

Any of MacDonald's Lew Archer books is worth reading for detective novel fans and The Far Side of the Dollar is no exception.


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