The Chill: Ross Macdonald (1964)

People who don’t believe in divorce sometimes believe in murder.”

In Ross MacDonald’s The Chill, PI Lew Archer is hired by newlywed, Alex to find his missing bride. Alex and Dolly were on their honeymoon at the Surf House when she was visited by an older, bearded man. After that meeting Dolly disappeared. Archer takes the case and begins digging into the identity of the mystery visitor and Dolly’s past.

According to Alex, Dolly had no family, but Archer discovers that that isn’t true; Dolly’s mother was murdered and her father went to prison for the crime. It doesn’t take much digging for Archer to find Dolly’s mystery visitor: Dolly’s father, fresh out of prison for killing Dolly’s mother. It’s not too surprising that Dolly’s father sought his daughter as it was Dolly’s testimony, as a child, that put him behind bars. Why did she disappear? Is she frightened of her father?

While Archer may have found Dolly’s father, he has yet to find Dolly. His search takes him to the college campus where Dolly enrolled as a student. Vampish Professor Helen Haggerty, Dolly’s academic counselor, invites Archer home for a drink and then begs him to protect her from the mysterious threats she has received. …

The Chill takes Archer back over 20 years and several murders which seem to be inexplicably linked. As the body count rises, Archer runs into an interesting cast of characters: the ex-detective twisted by grief and guilt, the rigid society widow who is happy to bury the truth, and the college dean who doesn’t take a step without mummy’s approval. While I did not guess the solution, when it arrived, it was implausible. Interesting but still implausible. Macdonald’s novels twist on the sordid complications of broken family, and that is true here. When Archer closes his cases, he probably swears he will remain single. Not the best in the series; this is number 11.

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Macdonald Ross, posts

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.