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5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly, the ultimate Ross Macdonald novel, July 7 2003
By 
Neal C. Reynolds (Indianapolis, Indiana) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
Fairly new to Ross MacDonald, I am finding his books superb dramatic novels told as mysteries...the pieces of the poignant story are given to you jigsaw style, but you still experience the power of the story as they are pieced together. Lew Archer's role is that of the puzzle solver, and you are not as involved with him and his character development as you are with the characters.
This is possibly his most satisfying story and like most of the other reviewers, I choose to let you discover the story for yourself. If you have read previous MacDonald, you may spot elements of the story before they're completely revealed, but this hardly will diminish your enjoyment of the book. It might even enhance it. There's much more of interest here than just the identity of the murderer. There's a lot of figuring out the essences of the people involved, and they do act consistently.
There is one minor stretch of credibility in this particular book, one rather unlikely coincidence, but it's a realistic coincidence, one which fits nicely as one of the coincidences that do occur in real life and does not seem like the author's contrivance.
I don't think it makes any appreciable difference whether or not you've read any other MacDonald works or not. This will read well as the first one or the later one.
One of the great mystery novels, for sure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Boy, Jan. 22 2002
By 
IA (San Francisco, California United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
This novel was also anthologized in the "Archer At Large" omnibus, which contains a revealing, fascinating foreward by MacDonald, who stated that The Galton Case was his "break-through book." And then he diclosed the numerous--and poignant--autobiographical parallels he had with the novel.
The Galton Case has a realistic, painful and angry intensity not present in any other Archer novels I've read--perhaps because MacDonald had put more of his life and sorrows into this book than in any other; into the examination of how the sins of the fathers ruin their sons' lives. For MacDonald every family is riddled with moral cancer: skeletons can never be fully shoved into the closet, especially because Archer, relentless and haunted, will bring them back to life.
It's true that MacDonald basically wrote the same work throughout most of his novels. All work out the same issues of buried identity, familial guilt and moral corrpution. This is not an entirely damning fact--it just means that Archer was a limited, minor artist (like Hammett and Chandler) and that he was fixated with a primal story that he retold continually. "The Galton Case" may be the finest version of that story--the most wounding, convincing and saddening.
As a stylist, MacDonald lacks Hammett's laconic grace and Chandler's brilliant flamboyance. Parts of this book can be awkward, while other parts display figurative language of uncommon acuteness and insight. MacDonald chose to work with a sparer, elegantly economic and less sensationalistic style--his sentences literally work up a quiet storm.
As a storyteller MacDonald is deeper, more human and more interesting than either Hammett or Chandler--because he is genuinely intersted in other people besides his detective. He doesn't make Lew Archer cooler(Sam Spade)or simply better (Philip Marlowe) than his clients. Archer is more like a hard-boiled, tough detective-shrink dealing with clients whose neuroses can be dangerous. His plots are neither ingenious displays of dedeuctive/inductive insight (a la Sherlock Holmes) or outrageously complicated messes (as in Chandler). Instead they resemble the gradual construction of a scandalous family tree, with hidden connections and relations acumulating into a damning account of old sins.
Unlike Spade and Marlowe, Lew Archer genuinely gives a damn about and sympathizes with his clients, who must deal with the horrible buried truths he discovers. MacDonald's true subject is in how families and friends are capable of hurting and crippling each other. The Taiwanese film director Edward Yang once gave a chilling coment on human relationships:"The bombs we plant in each other are still ticking." That quote goes striaght to the heart of MacDonald's mystery novels. They possess a fundamental humanism that's often missing not only from most crime stories, but from most novels and movies period.
You'll notice that I really haven't said anything in specific about "The Galton Case." The less you know about it before reading it, the better. Enjoy the story, and how it pierces straight into its target.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Maybe the Author's Best...Definitely Worth a Look!!!, Dec 21 2001
By 
Hans Castorp (Devon, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
Just about all of Mr. McDonald's novels deal with long lost family members,who may be dead and buried,living a new life hiding their past, or some similar predicament.The relatives want to somehow find the whereabouts of this clansman, and turn to Lew Archer,PI. The author knows how to turn all the corners at high speeds,leaving the reader baffled when the first definite victim appears. It's always a high flying ride as Archer, the compassionate but hard-boiled detective, uses his subtle charm to finally unmask the strange doings, always in a contemporary setting,circa 1940-1976,his writing years. The GALTON case is my personal favorite,and Mr. MacDonald's beautifully crafted novel may initiate you into a mild addiction to his special family based mysteries, usually based in the Los Angeles area.
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5.0 out of 5 stars classic noir mystery, Nov. 22 2000
By 
Orrin C. Judd "brothersjudddotcom" (Hanover, NH USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer series is the pinnacle of the private eye novel. In many ways, it is the greatest series of American novels, period.
In The Galton Case, Archer is hired to look for Anthony Galton, who disappeared twenty years earlier. Now Galton's dying mother wants to be reconciled with him & bequeath him her considerable fortune. Archer's suspicions are raised when all the pieces of the mystery fall into place a little to quickly.
With a lone wolf investigator, wanton women, mobsters, millions, beatings & shootings, The Galton Case has all the elements of a classic noir mystery.
GRADE: A+
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5.0 out of 5 stars Look no further, Oct. 12 1998
This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
This is my first MacDonald novel and I was not disappointed. I had heard RM compared favorably to Hammett and Chandler and the comparisons are just. "The Galton Case" digs into the secrets long hidden by a well-to-do California family. Macdonald keeps the story line flowing with twists and turns and surprises to the bitter end. I would of appreciated a little more development into the "Lew Archer" character. His likes and dislikes, his history, more character development. This is a minor criticism though. Overall this is crime fiction at it's best and I will read more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best book to start one of mystery's best writers., Aug. 16 1997
This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer is one of the most fascinating detective creations in American mystery literature. MacDonald is a terrific stylist and, like P.D. James, his novels have a deeper and more poignant resonance than the majority of mystery fiction. Fans of Hammett and Chandler wont be disappointed by MacDonald, their heir apparent--I find his novels far more addictive and satisfying. THE GALTON CASE is acknowledged by the author as the novel where he first found his voice, and so makes an excellent introduction to this first-rate series
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5.0 out of 5 stars A truly great mystery, Dec 8 1999
This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
This was the third book I have read by Ross MacDonald and I think they are all excellent. This book is simply a great classic mystery, complete with well-developed characters, sharp dialogue, and a realistic plot that twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the last chapter. It seems like hundreds of writers have been compared to Hammett and Chandler, but Ross MacDonald is, in my opinion, one of the very few who deserve such a comparison.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read, Jan. 6 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
It took me over a year to pick up a Archer mystery. Now, lucky me I have to read them all. MacDonald's works are like a out of control train ride. They start slow and steady but gain speed as the plot thickens, until you reach the point you can't stop reading until the end. This title is no exception. Read any Archer mystery and you will want more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun beach mystery, April 4 2000
By 
Christina Wolf (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel (Paperback)
I have come to depend on MacDonald's mysteries as ideal beach reads and this one lives up to that expectation every bit. Fun, with film noir-type dialog and scrappy detective umph, this books really does make you care about the "bad" guys and the good ones.
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The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel
The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel by Ross Macdonald (Paperback - Nov. 26 1996)
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