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The Ivory Grin (1952)

by Ross Macdonald

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lew Archer (4)

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4541642,183 (3.84)25
Traveling from sleazy motels to stately seaside manors, The Ivory Grin is one of Lew Archer's most violent and macabre cases ever. A hard-faced woman clad in a blue mink stole and dripping with diamonds hires Lew Archer to track down her former maid, who she claims has stolen her jewelry. Archer can tell he's being fed a line, but curiosity gets the better of him and he accepts the case. He tracks the wayward maid to a ramshackle motel in a seedy, run-down small town, but finds her dead in her tiny room, with her throat slit from ear to ear. Archer digs deeper into the case and discovers a web of deceit and intrigue, with crazed number-runners from Detroit, gorgeous triple-crossing molls, and a golden-boy shipping heir who's gone mysteriously missing.… (more)
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» See also 25 mentions

English (15)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (16)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
Seleccions de la cua de palla
  Segudet | Dec 17, 2020 |
When I began reading Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer novels last year, I built my acquisitions around the three-volume collection published by the Library of America. These bring together many of the Archer novels that Macdonald published over the span of a quarter century, encapsulating nicely the corpus of his work. The collection is far from comprehensive, though, which led me to search out copies of the novels missing from them.

The Ivory Grin was my latest find. It begins when Archer is approached by a woman asking her to locate a nurse hiding in a small California town. This soon results in a series of encounters that hit the marks familiar to readers of Macdonald's novels, with murders, clashes with local law enforcement, and encounters with a cast of sharply-written characters. Yet while an enjoyable read there is a reason why it didn't make the "best of" collection published by the LoA, as the elements of the story don't come together as well as they do his other novels. It just goes to prove that, no matter how good they are or how effective their formula is, not even the best writer can produce a great work every time. ( )
  MacDad | Mar 27, 2020 |
Well, after all the sweetness and light of Heidi, I figured I needed to return to the dark side, so to speak. So, more noir detective fiction for me.

So, a mysterious, rich woman, just "Una" (later we learn it's Durano, or sometimes, Larkin) comes to Archer to ask him to find her maid, Lucy Champion. She says Ms. Champion (who could pass for white if she so chose) stole something from her. During the looking around, Archer comes across another P.I., Max Heiss (aka Julian Desmond) who is also looking for Ms. Champion. Well, naturally, there's lots of other stuff, such as a sketchy doctor, Sam Benning and his spouse, Bess, and a rich lady, Mrs. Charles Singleton who wants to find her missing son, for which there is a huge reward. Bess, the sketchy doctor's wife, has a major off and on thing with the kid. She is also a good friend of Ms. Champion. Well, people get killed and disappear and so forth, and eventually Archer figures it all out.

It's actually quite a good read, unlike this review, which is a garbled mess. I should write up reviews within a few days of reading, rather than a month later. Sorry 'bout that. Anyway, this book proves, yet again, that Ross Macdonald is a worthy successor to the noir master, Raymond Chandler. Clearly one of the best things I've done in the past six or so months is to get a library card for the library in the next town over, which gave me access to Macdonald. So, let's hear it for Woburn! Much less of a dump than we ever imagined.
( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
A conventionally incomprehensible story filled with good writing. Some great inversions of the hardboiled tough-guy detective - like how he won't smoke before breakfast. The racial angle gets dropped a little too quickly, but it's done with enough style at the beginning that it's still significant. ( )
  Algybama | Mar 11, 2018 |
Audiobook. More a 3.5. I am always pleased with time spent with Ross Macdonald. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ross Macdonaldprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hamberger, CharlotteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To all HANDS
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I found her waiting at the door of my office.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Ivory Grin was republished in 1953 by Pocket Books under the title Marked For Murder.
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Traveling from sleazy motels to stately seaside manors, The Ivory Grin is one of Lew Archer's most violent and macabre cases ever. A hard-faced woman clad in a blue mink stole and dripping with diamonds hires Lew Archer to track down her former maid, who she claims has stolen her jewelry. Archer can tell he's being fed a line, but curiosity gets the better of him and he accepts the case. He tracks the wayward maid to a ramshackle motel in a seedy, run-down small town, but finds her dead in her tiny room, with her throat slit from ear to ear. Archer digs deeper into the case and discovers a web of deceit and intrigue, with crazed number-runners from Detroit, gorgeous triple-crossing molls, and a golden-boy shipping heir who's gone mysteriously missing.

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