In this intricately mapped detective novel, Macdonald’s ex-cop P.I. Lew Archer finds himself investigating three murders, committed at ten-year intervals and in multiple states. The interconnected nature of the killings and of the cast of characters speak to an expert at plotting out a story, while the nearly endless series of reversals and revelations speak to the imagination and wit of Macdonald, an author who deserves the same status as Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler.
Accosted right outside a courtroom where his testimony has just helped free an innocent woman, Lew Archer finds himself dragged into a runaway wife case which it turns out has something to do with her mother’s murder, for which her father has just got out of prison. When a friend of the bride’s turns up dead, it turns out that a twenty-year-old murder might be the motivation. As Archer pinballs between three states and about a dozen possible suspects, it becomes dizzying for the reader to keep up with all the possibilities but thrilling nevertheless.
Although the connections between the characters may strain credulity, Macdonald’s solution is psychologically sound enough to work and complex enough to be supremely interesting.