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The Wycherly Woman [Paperback]

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

March 3 1998 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Phoebe Wycherly was missing two months before her wealthy father hired Archer to find her. That was plenty of time for a young girl who wanted to disappear to do so thoroughly--or for someone to make her disappear. Before he can find the Wycherly girl, Archer has to deal with the Wycherly woman, Phoebe's mother, an eerily unmaternal blonde who keeps too many residences, has too many secrets, and leaves too many corpses in her wake.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Published in 1949, 1961, and 1962, respectively, these three titles find gumshoe Lew Archer up to his neck in murder, kidnapping, and blackmailAjust another day at the office. This is hard-boiled detective writing at the top of its form.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Sign of decline June 15 2001
Format:Paperback
Ross MacDonald is an accomplished mystery writer, but this novel, while entertaining, is the most contrived of his many books. It rests on a case of mistaken identity that could not possible have occured, given the ages of the two characters involved. Sadly, this novel offers the first sign that MacDonald was losing his great gifts as a writer.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A little convoluted, but it works... Jan. 3 2001
Format:Paperback
This was my third Ross MacDonald/Lew Archer mystery and probably my last. As with all detective series type novels, they are starting to lose their luster. As a stand-alone mystery novel it is top-notch in both story and charactarization, although the plot wandered a bit. I don't have the deep insight provided by the previous reviewer, but I can say that if you like Chandler style LA Noir, this one is as good as it gets.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done May 17 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is only the second book I have read by MacDonald but it certainly won't be the last. The plot and characterizations were both very strong. From what I have read so far, MacDonald compares very favorably with Hammett and Chandler. The thing that I probably like best about MacDonald is that his detective, Lew Archer, seems more like a real person than most of the detectives in this genre. He is tough, but he also shows some sensitivity and human emotion.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done May 17 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is only the second book I have read by MacDonald but it certainly won't be the last. The plot and characterizations were both very strong. From what I have read so far, MacDonald compares very favorably with Hammett and Chandler. The thing that I probably like best about MacDonald is that his detective, Lew Archer, seems more like a real person than most of the detectives in this genre. He is tough, but he also shows some sensitivity and human emotion.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of his very best efforts. March 13 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This novel includes everything MacDonald is best known for: far-flung sagas of wealthy families, gritty portrayals of California's marginal sectors, memorable characters, moral dilemmas, and a twist-filled plot leading to an irresistable climax. Worth a try even if you don't like mysteries or detective novels
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad story...sad people...don't know why it works so well... Oct. 18 2008
By Mark Town - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I enjoy Ross Macdonald. I have probably read all the Archer books over the last twenty years. They fit a certain mood. I cannot explain why I like him so much, mostly that melancholy mood that he creates, I think. Archer is a good man, but not too good. The other characters in the books are almost all screw-ups who make their own trouble or are victimized by the trouble created by others. The world they inhabit is vacuous and headed no where good. Although written long before American decline gained the unstoppable momentum of the current moment, these novels seem to anticipate that decline and chronicle it as well. Sad American stories of how money cures almost nothing, despite our lust for it, and how what might actually make us happy is all the more elusive because we do not value it sufficiently until it is too late. The Wycherly Woman is not the best of the lot but not the weakest either. Time with it is far better spent then 98% of the other "mysteries" out there.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced, suspenseful. Jan. 9 2006
By Michael G. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
College senior Phoebe Wycherly has gone missing and her wealthy father, California oilman Homer Wycherly is desperate to find her. So, he hires veteran PI Lew Archer to track her down. Most of the narrative unfolds in northern California, many miles away from Archer's home base in Los Angeles.

Reading The Wycherly Woman is a real joy because the plot, though complex, is smoothly laid out with each chapter logically leading to the next. Also contributing to this novel's enjoyment quotient is the smart and plentiful dialogue Macdonald provides his characters.

As Archer steadfastly pursues the facts behind Phoebe's disappearance, the suspense builds and builds. This has the effect of making The Wycherly Woman one of Ross Macdonald's most engaging mysteries. I do, however, have to deduct one star from the rating. The plot device on which the solution to the mystery rests, is based on one character assuming the identity of another with the use of a rather transparent form of disguise. Though one could believe that some might be fooled by this, Macdonald has structured the plot such that Archer himself is also taken in. And that goes against everything we know about the ace detective's ultra acute powers of observation, especially when it comes to "reading" people.

A flawed yet extremely well written example of hardboiled detective fiction.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my favorite (at least for now) Dec 11 2011
By henry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
All of the Lew Archer mysteries by Ross Macdonald are very good, and all but two or three are excellent. This one is in the top three of four, which means it is one of the best mystery novels ever written, and beyond that, it is an excellent novel, period.

It is well plotted, tight, and plausible. (I didn't say probable.) I do not agree with some other reviewers here who think that certain aspects are very unlikely. To say more would be a spoiler, and THAT would be near criminal.

The characterizations are excellent. It flows smoothly, a real page turner, hard to put down. It is quite complex, and the reader would be rewarded by keeping a note pad and jotting down the first time and place a character is mentioned, and other key points. (I always intend to do so, but usually can't keep it up for long.) But beyond the mystery story aspects, no other mystery novelist that I am aware of has so many insightful observations, compelling similes, and such deep observations on the human condition.

I have read all of the Lew Archer novels at least twice over a period of twenty five years. This is perhaps my personal favorite, even though it may not be the absolute best, if there is such a thing. Others in my list of favorites and bests are Sleeping Beauty and The Zebra-Striped Hearse. It doesn't get any better than this folks.
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