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5.0 out of 5 stars Ross MacDonald was a true artist., Feb. 27 2002
By 
David J. Gannon (San Antonio, TX USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Drowning Pool (Paperback)
A Ross MacDonald is like an extremely well crafted 1950's black & white noir movie. Nothing comes through in it's true color, everything is projected in shades of gray, the action is stately yet never drags, and the characters are all vaguely threatening.
All of MacDonald's novels exhibit certain basic themes--tormented families, buried secrets that fester through multiple generations, environmental destruction, and the brutal contrast between rich and poor. The key to MacDonald's long running success was Archers realism and authenticity, MacDonald's ability to craft complex yet understandable stories, his mastery of language, and his ability to generate a specific atmosphere of threatening suspense on a consistent basis.
All of the above referenced themes are present in The Drowning Pool, which I think is MacDonald's best novel, though The Underground Man is right up there as well.
MacDonald's novels aren't just mind candy-reading him is a literary experience. I believe that is why he was successful in a sort of restrained way. Escapists will not get into these books-they are too cerebral. If you want to your books affect you, MacDonald and Archer are your kind of guy's.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dashiell's Hammett's heir goes him one better, June 20 2000
By 
Unique ViewPoint (Gaithersburg, MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Drowning Pool (Paperback)
Ross MacDonald is usually compared to Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. However Lew Archer is never hard-bitten (despite hard-bitten experience) as Hammett and Chandler's detectives are. In Lew Archer, MacDonald creates a wholly sympathetic detective with loads of angst or emotions more akin to Dave Robicheaux (James Lee Burke's detective). That is, his life is not just something he's surviving -- he is experiencing it. There is violence, but the violence is secondary to the feelings and atmosphere of the story. It differs from an Agatha Christie mystery where you come to admire her ability to fit a plot puzzle together. With the Drowning Pool, there is more a feeling that this is a tragedy rather than a detective story. The Drowning Pool shows themes that run throughout MacDonald's mysteries -- multi-generational sins of the father being visited upon the children, sincs with long roots and branches, dysfunctional families. MacDonald's talent lies in infusing his stories with dark atmospheres that generally has not been translated well onto the silver screen. Paul Newman playing Lew Archer is much more light-hearted than the book. Melanie Griffith plays the seductive daughter in the movie. I remember the first time I saw the movie that I was surprised that Melanie's mother (whom I didn't know was Tippi Hedren at the time) would allow her 14 year old to project such sexuality. I don't think that Melanie was acting the part because she went on to live with Don Johnson shortly after the movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars thorougly excellent, March 16 2000
This review is from: The Drowning Pool (Paperback)
MacDonald was not only the heir to craftwork of Hammett and Chandler, he may well have brought this particular strain of crime fiction to its pinacle. This being my first MacDonald novel, I found his plot work to be intriguing yet completely coherent (sadly, I can't say that for Chandler), and his prose to be pitch - perfect. If RM had a shortcoming as a writer, it might be that his characters are a little underdeveloped. He manages to weave darker, transgressive noir themes into the story without being crude or providing shock of its own sake. I can't wait to get my hands on more of MacDonald's work!
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best fifties LA noir, Jan. 2 2001
By 
Erik J. Larsen (st. paul, mn) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Drowning Pool (Paperback)
I'm not a big fan of detective series because they tend to become robotic in plot and characterization, but the Ross MacDonald/Lew Archer series is an exception. Crisp language, tight plots, and geat dialog make for a gripping story.
A sad sidenote. Don't rent/watch the insipid Paul Newman/Joanne Woodward movie 'loosely' based on the book. Instead of LA they set it in New Orleans and they basically rearranged all the characters into pale versions of their literary counterparts. Just thought I'd let you know.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The way America is., Oct. 23 2000
By 
"flava_flav_anilla" (in the CONCRETE basement) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Drowning Pool (Paperback)
Ross Macdonald describes America the way it really is, mindblowing, desperate, full of paranoia!! His descriptions of faded starlets and worn-out harlots wandering around Hollywood, talking tough and acting mean, he describes the slums, the shady characters out to make a buck, the cops with trigger fingers and intolerant faces, it is all there. I have reccomended his books to friends in Europe, they don't seem to see it the same way I do. I bet it's still a damn good read for most people.
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The Drowning Pool
The Drowning Pool by Ross Macdonald (Paperback - June 3 1996)
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