Thursday, July 7, 2011
The Galton Case: A Lew Archer Novel / by Ross MacDonald
It's been twenty years since Anthony Galton, son of wealthy California businessman John Galton, disappeared from his Los Angeles home. No one really knows what happened to him though they suspect he may still be alive. With the elder Galton long-dead and his mother not far from death's door herself, the family wants some closure to the ultimate fate of her only child. Private Investigator Lew Archer has seen cases like this one and believes that the Galton's son is either dead or simply doesn't want to be found. When Lew finds a headless skeleton dug up in Northern California with identifying marks matching that of Galton, he thinks it's another case closed until a boy who claims to be Galton's son and has the story to back it up suddenly unearths an entirely new series of suspicions and questions.
Ross MacDonald knows how to tell a good story, the kind that will let the reader in to the plot without revealing the ending. Few hardboiled mystery writers from the era in which this was written (1956) other than Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler or Jim Thompson create such well-paced yet intriguing stories out of relatively few pages. Lew Archer might seem to some a fairly generic character, very well-engendered to his profession, more so through experience than disciplined practice. But he's keen to root out irregularities in seemingly very routine situations and he's a hard one to fool (he "bears the scars of an honest man"). The audio version of this book is read by Grover Gardner, one of the best in the business. (AD MYS MACDONALD)