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The Far Side of the Dollar Paperback – Nov 26 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Nov. 26 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679768653
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553129144
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #487,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most helpful 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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By A Customer on Sept. 1 1999
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: 20 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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.
Disappearing into History Jan. 20 2007
By Lawrence D. Zeilinger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nobody reads Ross Macdonald much anymore, but this was one of several books Amazion asked me to review this week, so I'm doing my best to oblige them. This partcular June 1984 14th Bantam Books printing has one of the fabulous James Marsh covers I collect, in which the entire series of some 20-plus books were all published as a posthumous tribute to Macdonald, who died in 1983 and whose real name was Kenneth Millar, born an American, raised in Canada, and returned to California to write. Most of Macdonald's books have deep Freudian themes to them, and are old-style hard-boiled literature whose fans included such notable greats as Eudora Welty and the editor of the New York Times Book Review. It's hard to find him in print anymore, but Black Lizard/Vintage is doing a good job of tring to keep his books afloat. Macdonald writes of the promised land, the sunny valleys of California, and the family tragedies and mysteries behind the secret doors. It's best to start off reading him chronologically, with the three non-Archer novels he wrote during World War II, and then slowly move chronologically into the Lew Archer series, which once comprised a TV series starring Peter Graves and the movie "Harper" with Paul Newman as the Archer character (remember, he liked titles that began with "H", like "Hud" (Larry McMurtry's first book, "Horseman Pass By", and also "Hombre." "Dollar" is a great mystery and you should read everything Ross Macdonald wrote and all the great books of essays and one especially superb biography about him.


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