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The Way Some People Die: A Lew Archer Novel    by Ross Macdonald order for
Way Some People Die
by Ross Macdonald
Order:  USA  Can
Vintage, 2007 (1951)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

If you're my age somewhere in my golden years you'll remember author Ross Macdonald's creation, Lew Archer. The genre that The Way Some People Die (starring Archer) falls in was at the time called hard-boiled crime. The novel takes place in the '50s somewhere on the coast near Hollywood. Drugs were making their way into the marketplace and money was to be made.

The crimes depicted in The Way Some People Die are definitely hard-boiled with matter of fact killings and brutal beatings. Nothing personal. Just that someone got in the way or didn't play the game properly. Macdonald's descriptions of each scene are in the same vein. They're matter of fact but with an all encompassing eye, almost Hemingway-esque short and to the point, but so vivid one can visualize those bleak motel rooms or dark country roads.

Of course, there are beautiful women but what crime story would be worth its salt if it did not have a provocative dame to brighten up the gloom? Lew Archer is on the trail of a missing daughter she left home with a small-time gangster and didn't return. Momma is worried and Lew sets out to find her. Thereby getting himself into more than he bargained for, or was to be paid for.

In the same style as Sam Spade, Lew Archer (ex-cop and now PI) tries to level the playing field and bring the bad guys to justice. If he gets paid to do that, so much the better (although it often doesn't work out that way). The Way Some People Die is a classic in the genre.

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