Friday, June 28, 2019

FFB: THE CHILL



Lew Archer is hired by Alex Kincaid, to find his new wife, Dolly, who has suddenly disappeared. Archer takes the case when it is clear the police are uninterested and finds Dolly quickly, but, of course, complications arise. 

A man from her past has shown up at their hotel. This and the death of her college advisor, Helen Haggerty, has sent her into flight. She claims, in fact, that she's caused Helen’s death. Archer puts Dolly into a rest home with a man who has treated her in the past for similar incidents. Kincaid hangs around to keep an eye on her.

It seems that Dolly is linked to a number of mysterious deaths over a long period. The dean of the college Dolly attends also figures into the story at multiple points. He is dominated by his mother although puts up less of a fuss than you might expect.
 
This is very much a story about family relationships and how children can be manipulated by adults. The past has the present in a stranglehold in this book. Try as they might, the characters in THE CHILL are helpless but to follow a path they sometimes had no hand in making. Although many characters in THE CHILL only appear on the page for a minute or two, they are each given traits to be memorable. Archer himself is the least memorable and I think Macdonald planned it thusly. 

My favorite line, and one that sums up much of the plot, is "I'm beginning to hate old women."

13 comments:

Mathew Paust said...

Haven't read an Archer in so long I can't remember much of anything back that far, Patti. You've whetted my appetite to read some more of them!

Margot Kinberg said...

I've always like the Lew Archer character, Patti. Nice to see him here!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Always loved Ross and John back in the day.

Jeff Meyerson said...

It's been a long while since I read this one, but THE CHILL was one of my favorite Archers. I still have a few on hand that I have never read.

J F Norris said...

Brilliant book! The ending of this elicited a huge gasp from me. It's like something out of Agatha Christie and yet it makes complete sense in relation to his themes and the way the characters are presented.

Jerry House said...

I think I read through the entire series (to date) within a month after I first discovered Ross MacDonald. Great stuff.

Rick Robinson said...

He always worked the family and history into his books, it seems. Like Jeff, it's been a long, long time since I read this one, but unlike him I don't recall it as a favorite. Good, but not tops.

pattinase (abbott) said...

yes, he was always interested in families. I read most as they came out. Or at least the ones in the seventies. I am sure I have missed some though.

Emilio said...

The lines from the book I highlighted in my Kindle:

The place is like something out of Dante, with people crying and groaning.

Her hair was dyed black, with a greenish sheen on it like certain ducks.

“I know. This town is a graveyard. I felt like the last living inhabitant, until you sashayed in.”

Someone had written in pencil on the wall: Support Mental Health or I’ll kill you.

He walked like a man in a tunnel underground,

He jabbed his thumb downward like a decadent emperor decreeing death.

Something that felt like a spider with wet feet climbed up the back of my neck into the short hairs and made them bristle.

George said...

You can't go wrong with a Ross Macdonald book although I tend to think he's telling the same story over and over again.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Lovely lines.
And yes, he is to some extent, I think.

TracyK said...

Ross Macdonald seems to be very interested in family relationships, and I always enjoy that theme. Of the ones I have read, I noticed that most in The Drowning Pool. The Chill has been recommended to me as a really good one to read. Also The Galton Case.

Barry Ergang said...

THE CHILL is his greatest novel.