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The Three Roads [Paperback]

Ross Macdonald

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Book Description

Jan. 11 2011 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Silken skin pale against dark hair, red lips provocatively smiling at him—that’s how Lieutenant Bret Taylor remembered Lorraine.  He was drunk when he married her, stone cold sober when he found her dead.  Out on the sunlit streets of L.A. walked the man—her lover, her killer—who had been with her that fatal night.  Taylor intended to find him.  And when he did, the gun in his pocket would provide the quickest kind of justice.  But first Taylor had to find something else: an elusive memory so powerful it drove him down three terrifying roads toward self-destruction—grief, ecstasty, and death.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (Jan. 11 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307740765
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307740762
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #518,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


Ross Macdonald’s real name was Kenneth Millar.  Born near San Francisco in 1915 and raised in Ontario, Millar returned to the U.S. as a young man and published his first novel in 1944. He served as the president of the Mystery Writers of America and was awarded their Grand Master Award as well as the Mystery Writers of Great Britain's Gold Dagger Award.  He died in 1983.

About the Author

“[The] American private eye, immortalized by Hammett, refined by Chandler, brought to its zentih by Macdonald.” —New York Times Book Review
“Macdonald should not be limited in audience to connoisseurs of mystery fiction.  He is one of a handful of writers in the genre whose worth and quality surpass the limitations of the form.” —Los Angeles Times
“Most mystery writers merely write about crime.  Ross Macdonald writes about sin.” —The Atlantic
“Without in the least abating my admiration for Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, I should like to venture the heretical suggestion that Ross Macdonald is a better novelist than either of them.” —Anthony Boucher
“[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 (London)
“[Ross Macdonald] gives to the detective story that accent of class that the late Raymond Chandler did.” —Chicago Tribune

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elusive memories. April 22 2006
By Michael G. - Published on
The Three Roads, an early work from the prolific pen of the legendary Ross Macdonald, is an interesting and worthwhile read, especially for readers who are already Macdonald fans. It was written before Macdonald had decided to concentrate completely on the hardboiled detective genre and is probably best described as a psychological thriller.

The plot revolves around Paula West, a strong willed and successful Hollywood screenwriter and the man she loves; Lt. Bret Taylor, a naval officer who suffers from amnesia. The story is told as a third person narration and takes place a few months after the end of WWII.

The first half of The Three Roads is strongly written and stands on its own as compelling reading. This part of the novel is noteworthy for its clever dialogue, its detailed development of the two principal characters and its very smooth narrative flow. The second half is less compelling in that it gets bogged down by both overwrought psychoanalytic theories and some plot elements that are rather implausible, to say the least.

Lt. Taylor is a very troubled man and his problems can be traced back to losing his mother when he was only four. Those familiar with Ross Macdonald's biography know that he himself was four when his parent's separated. That event had a terrible impact on Macdonald and is something he never really got over. Virtually all of his fiction, to one degree or another, centers around the profound and long term consequences of family dysfunction.

The Three Roads is a well written, though flawed, mystery in its own right. It also serves to illustrate how Ross Macdonald's lifelong effort to exorcise his own demons manifested itself early on.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing Early MacDonald, Mostly for his Fans Feb. 17 2014
By Rich - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An interesting view of a writer still finding his voice, The Three Roads is a bit too slack and talky to hold one's attention for very long. An extremely unlikable damaged veteran tries to recover his memory and find his wife's killer as his improbably loyal former paramour either helps him or holds him back. The psycho-babble is a bit much, the plotting is weak and the characters' persistent failure to act like real human beings and more like psychological studies lead to some really groaners. But MacDonald is still an entertaining writer, and this is a fun read for anyone who appreciates his admirable later work.
2.0 out of 5 stars Early Ross MacDonald novel May 2 2014
By A reader from Houston, TX - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an early MacDonald (1948) and wasn't as good a read as his later work - which, admittedly is an extremely high standard to aspire to. The first third of the book builds up the history of the characters and is slow going: Brett is a recovering amnesiac WWII veteran just after the end of WWII and the mystery involves his first wife; the love interest is his girl/fiancee Paula. In places there are bits of dated Freudian psycho-babble. After the slow beginning the The story transitions into a typical hard-boiled detective novel, although not as complex as MacDonald's later novels. The best parts of the book were the descriptions/characterizations in the second half. For comparison, I've read most of what MacDonald wrote after 'The Way Some People Die' (1951) and I'd rate most of those books (including 'The Way...') 3.5-5 stars.

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