Having read them out of order, this wound up as my last unread Lew Archer novel. I’m going to miss cracking open one of his cases for the first time. Ross Macdonald’s divorced ex-cop private eye might not have much in the way of distinguishing characteristics, but he’s one heck of a character just the same. Tough with a flinty intelligence and a noggin seemingly made of steel, Archer specializes in unraveling long buried family secrets and exposing especially dastardly deeds. The case of Phoebe Wycherly is no exception.
When the young heiress’s father returns from a long trip abroad he realizes that his daughter has been missing ever since the night of his departure. Desperate to find her but just as interested in avoiding publicity, he hires Lew Archer and demands that the detective not contact his ex-wife at all. Of course a suspicious Archer does just that.
Along the way Archer encounters the usual sorts of characters on both sides of the tracks. Pompous members of the upper-class who can barely conceal their contempt for blue-collar Archer as well as the unfortunate members of the lower class, desperate to crawl out of the flophouses and cheap rooms they’ve been stuck in so long.
Of course Archer solves the case, after a few additional murders, and the solution is a disturbing look at the seedier side of human nature.