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Sleeping Beauty Paperback – Dec 5 2000
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"Ross Macdonald is either part or wholly wizard. . .conjuring the magic of real mystery. . . . A masterpiece." --Chicago Tribune Book World
"Sleeping Beauty is particularly complex and satisfactory. . . . It is a marvelous formula that Macdonald has found; the wonder is that he keeps improving it." --Newsweek
"Ross Macdonald remains the grandmaster, taking the crime novel to new heights by imbuing it with psychological resonance, complexity of story, and richness of style that remain inspiring." --Jonathan Kellerman
From the Inside Flap
In Sleeping Beauty, Lew Archer finds himself the confidant of a
wealthy, violent family with a load of trouble on their hands--including an oil spill, a missing girl, a lethal dose of Nembutal, a six-figure ransom, and a stranger afloat, face down, off a private beach. Here is Ross Macdonald's masterful tale of buried memories, the consequences of arrogance, and the anguished relations between parents and their children. Riveting, gritty, tautly written, Sleeping Beauty is crime fiction at its best.
If any writer can be said to have inherited the mantle of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, it is Ross Macdonald. Between the late 1940s and his death in 1983, he gave the American crime novel a psychological depth and moral complexity that his pre-decessors had only hinted at. And in the character of Lew Archer, Macdonald redefined the private eye as a roving conscience who walks the treacherous frontier between criminal guilt and human sin.
Top Customer Reviews
Ross MacDonald's prose is simply pure art. He settles you into the tacky 40's through 60's of California and then contrasts the empty lives of the rich and the destitute. He exposes his characters as being very troubled and not very innocent. Archer, his guide/protagonist is dogged as the revelation of the true perpetrator(s) slowly emerges. Terse first person narration gives this novel a stunning sense of realism.
This is a really wonderful detective novel, a form of noir that is so special. Vintage Crime/Lizard Press has reissued most of the Archer series and they remain as vital, and entertaining as when they were first printed. I recommend working through the whole series of these wonderful reprints.
However, having read them all and having read most of them several times over, this in my opinion is the best by a far measure. The best of this series is perhaps the best of all detective novels. Chandler and Hammett did not have the power of prose that Ross MacDonald so effortlessly spins.
What is amazing about this audio performance is the exceptional care, expense, and art that went into its creation. Most novels are condensed when put on cassette; nearly all are read by only a single actor or actress. This is read by a large and excellent cast, and the recording company devoted some effort to making the background sounds both realistic and appropriate. The music was simple but quite effective. The acting was sometimes a bit uneven, but the narrator (playing the detective, Lew Archer) was pitch perfect in his role. His voice was the perfect embodiment of the Archer character -- a bit depressed, extremely competent, and at heart a passionate advocate for the good but weak (even if that description does not fit his client).
All in all, this is a novel -- and production -- that can be recommended with the greatest enthusiasm (to quote the tag line that professors must place in their letters of reference for graduating students).
The book is one of MacDonald's last, and it has some of the overwrought quality that mar his later books, but this is only occasionally a distraction.
For those looking for other MacDonalds, the best are The Chill, Far Side of the Dollar, the Zebra-Striped Hearse, The Galton Case (all from 1959-65).