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The Ivory Grin by Ross Macdonald
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The Ivory Grin (1952)

by Ross Macdonald

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4031441,216 (3.85)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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English (13)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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 |
This is the 5th Lew Archer book I've read in a row. Years ago I had read all of Ross MacDonald's books, which included the non-Lew Archer books. I thought now would be a good time to reread the Lew Archer's. I was right. This one, "The Ivory Grin," takes place in a small California town. Archer is hired to find a rich women's maid who had run off with the woman's jewelery. Archer soon discovers that the woman who had hired him had lied, but has yet to discover why. He finds the maid, dead in a motel room with her throat slit. Now begins Archers' travels through a case which delivers deceit and violence. ( )
  phillipfrey | May 3, 2014 |
Lew Archer has not fully formed yet in this 2nd adventure. He's still stuck too tightly in the Philip Marlowe mode. The classics in the series are still a few years off. But, MacDonald's Archer at this point in the run is still better than 99% of the other private eye novels of the time. Archer is hired to track a servant who may have done something to upset his client. The detective isn't getting a lot of info from the client and he doesn't think what he's getting is the straight story. Archer is pulled into a mystery that reflects the racial attitudes of the time when he finds the girl with her throat cut. Again, not MacDonald's best but much better than the typical PI tale. ( )
  Leischen | Nov 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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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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