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Find a Victim: A Lew Archer Novel by Ross…

Find a Victim: A Lew Archer Novel (original 1954; edition 2001)

by Ross Macdonald

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272541,704 (4.09)5
Title:Find a Victim: A Lew Archer Novel
Authors:Ross Macdonald
Info:Vintage (2001), Edition: 1st Vintage Crime/Black Lizard ed, Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, read, audiobook

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Find a Victim by Ross Macdonald (1954)



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"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 |
For me, the Ross MacDonald Lew Archer books are a real treat. I read this one a number of years ago and thought it time to read it again. Glad I did. Private investigator Archer drives toward a town he'll be passing through. He picks up an injured hitchhiker, which will pull him into a case of robbery, corruption, abused housewives, and murder. I have many more Lew Archer books and will be rereading them. ( )
  phillipfrey | Mar 10, 2014 |
Las Cruces is the name of the city where I was born so I remember a little bit more of this story which takes place in Las Cruces, CA.
This story is a little bit different, all the way around. Archer isn't hired to find someone. He finds a dying man on the side of the road. Archer has to stay for the inquest and people keep getting murdered. It's a small town where the sheriff calls it his county.
Archer is the same. Going from one person to the other asking questions. Trying to figure out who did what to whom, etc. He gets beat up pretty bad. I think it was eight stitches. Everybody is chasing the wrong person including Archer. Nobody is who they seem to be, I can't say much without tripping the spoiler alert. The ending is a real surprise but it lacks any suspense. It wasn't the best Macdonald, maybe he's better off being hired to find someone. ( )
  wildbill | Apr 15, 2012 |
Archer gets him some. ( )
  jburlinson | Jul 6, 2010 |
Listened as an audiobook. ( )
  idiotgirl | May 5, 2009 |
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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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He was the ghastliest hitchhiker who ever thumbed me.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375708677, Paperback)

Las Cruces wasn’t a place most travelers would think to stop. But after Lew Archer plays the good samaritan and picks up a bloodied hitchhiker, he finds himself in town for a few days awaiting a murder inquest. A hijacked truck full of liquor and an evidence box full of marijuana, $20,000 from a big time bank heist by a small time crook, corruption, adultery, incest, prodigal daughters and abused wives all make the little town seem a lot more interesting than any guide book ever could. And as the murder rate rises, Archer finds himself caught up in mystery where everyone is a suspect and everyone’s a victim.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:08 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Lew Archer becomes involved with a beautiful blonde and a case of murder after he discovers a man dying of a bullet wound along a southern California highway.

(summary from another edition)

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