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Find a Victim (1954)

de Ross Macdonald

Sèrie: Lew Archer (5)

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373952,477 (3.95)16
The hitchhiker stumbles to his knees on the side of the road. When Archer stops the car and gets to him, he knows he is in for a ride--for the boy is dying of a gunshot wound. In a matter of hours, Archer is suspected by the law, hired by a target-shooting trucking magnate, and propositioned by an adulterer's wife. A hijacked load of hooch and a band of sinners are on the loose in the hills and desert around this nice Southern California town. So is this LA private eye, who keeps getting blood on his hands ...… (més)
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» Mira també 16 mencions

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As a private detective Lew Archer is used to cases coming to him. But when he encounters a dying man on the side of the highway between Los Angeles and Sacramento, he quickly finds himself enmeshed in the investigation of a hijacked shipment of bourbon, the question of a missing woman, and the hostile relationship between a local businessman and the county sheriff. As corpses start to pile up, Archer must untangle the threads before more people die — with his own body possibly among them.

As the fifth book published in his Lew Archer series, Ross Macdonald's novel offers a nice mix of the fresh and the familiar. By this point he was increasingly focused on the elements that made his books so great, namely the characters revealed by his protagonist's investigations. Yet Macdonald starts the novel in a way unusual with his books, as he drops Archer into the middle of events, giving him a need to find a justification to stay with the case and see it through. The amount of effort this entails for his central character provided for a nice change of pace from his other works, and shows how willing Macdonald was to tweak with his formula to produce yet another engrossing tale of temptation and murder in postwar America. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
This book certainly has the noir atmosphere down. It felt dark and shabby throughout, although not without sympathy for some of the victims that Archer comes across; Jo in particular suffers a great deal. I didn't predict the final revelation involving Jo's grandfather. For the most part I think everything was wrapped up, with few or no extraneous characters. I wouldn't suggest starting with this book in the series. It is better for those who are already familiar with Archer and his world. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Feb 28, 2017 |
This entry in the Lew Archer series was a bit too hardboiled for my tastes. However, the ending was surprisingly heartrending so maybe it deserves another ½ star... ( )
  leslie.98 | Jan 25, 2017 |
Written in 1954 (which dates the style).
The style slightly predates Mickey Spillane (who influenced later works of this genre). ( )
  howzzit | Dec 15, 2016 |
"I wished that I was made of steel and powered by electricity."

Find a Victim, the fifth Lew Archer novel, starts off with Archer pulling over for what he at first thinks is a hitchhiker, but ends up being a mortally wounded man. Archer rushes him to the nearest town, where is awkward reception and the man's death inspire him to solve the murder of truck driver Tony Aquista.

This opening underlines the appeal of Lew Archer and the direction that later novels would follow, as Archer is more of a sympathetic soul than some of your other hard-boiled gumshoes from the fifties. Archer is a veteran of both the streets and the war; he's familiar with death and deceit. What he isn't familiar with, however, is apathy. Archer wades through the same swamp of sex, drugs, corruption and degradation as an observer and occasional judge, but not with cynical detachment of his contemporaries.

As he snoops around the city of Las Cruces (Also known as "The City of Crosses," or the multiple of Crux, both obvious allusions to the multiple betrayals and double-crosses occurring among our cast of characters), his compassion towards the frailties of human nature affect him and drive him to dig deeper more than any paycheck or thoughtless moral code. At one point he even seeks out employment to justify his involvement in the case, but even that is abandoned as he gets closer to the truth no one in interested in, and the justice nobody else appears to be looking for.

Plot-wise, there isn't much groundbreaking material: Cheating husbands, frustrated wives, corrupt officials, duplicitous businessmen, violent criminals, cheap dives, loose women... You know the score. But MacDonald's prose will occasionally sweep in with something lyrical or unexpected, and Archer's tough exterior yields a soul of empathy and understanding just often enough to reveal his true search in Find a Victim isn't for justice, but humanity. ( )
  smichaelwilson | Sep 15, 2015 |
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A man feared that he might find an assassin; Another that he might find a victim. One was more wise than the other. - Stephen Crane
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To Ivan von Auw, Jr.
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He was the ghastliest hitchhiker who ever thumbed me.
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The hitchhiker stumbles to his knees on the side of the road. When Archer stops the car and gets to him, he knows he is in for a ride--for the boy is dying of a gunshot wound. In a matter of hours, Archer is suspected by the law, hired by a target-shooting trucking magnate, and propositioned by an adulterer's wife. A hijacked load of hooch and a band of sinners are on the loose in the hills and desert around this nice Southern California town. So is this LA private eye, who keeps getting blood on his hands ...

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