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The Chillby Ross Macdonald
Synopses & Reviews
The heavy red-figured drapes over the courtroom windows were incompletely closed against the sun. Yellow daylight leaked in and dimmed the electric bulbs in the high ceiling. It picked out random details in the room: the glass water cooler standing against the paneled wall opposite the jury box, the court reporter's carmine-tipped fingers playing over her stenotype machine, Mrs. Perrine's experienced eyes watching me across the defense table.
It was nearly noon on the second and last day of her trial. I was the final witness for the defense. Her attorney had finished questioning me. The deputy D.A. waived cross-examination, and several of the jurors looked at him with puzzled frowns. The judge said I could go.
From my place on the witness stand I'd noticed the young man sitting in the front row of spectators. He wasn't one of the regular trial-watchers, housewives and pensioners filling an empty morning with other people's troubles. This one bad troubles of his own. His brooding blue gaze stayed on my face, and I had the uncomfortable feeling that he might be willing to share his troubles with me.
He rose from his seat as I stepped down and intercepted me at the door. "Mr. Archer, may I talk to you?"
The bailiff opened the door and gestured urgently. "Outside, gentlemen. Court is still in session."
We moved out into the corridor. The young man scowled at the automatically closing door. "I don't like being pushed
"I'd hardly describe that as being pushed around. What's eating you, friend?"
I shouldn't have asked him. I should have walked briskly out to my car and driven back to Los Angeles. But he had that clean, crewcut All-American look, and that blur of pain in his eyes.
"I just got thrown out of the Sheriff's office. It came on top of a couple of other brushoffs from the local authorities, and I'm not used to that kind of treatment."
"They don't mean it personally."
"You've had a lot of detective experience, haven't you? I gathered that from what you said on the witness stand. In-cidentally, you did a wonderful job for Mrs. Perrine. I'm sure the jury will acquit her."
"We'll see. Never bet on a jury." I distrusted his compliment, which probably meant he wanted something more substantial from me. The trial in which I had just testified marked the end of a long uninteresting case, and I was planning a fishing trip to La Paz. "Is that all you wanted to say to me?"
"I have a lot to say, if you'll only listen. I mean, I've got this problem about my wife. She left me.
"I don't ordinarily do divorce work, if that's what you have in mind."
"Divorce?" Without making a sound, he went through the motions of laughing hollowly, once. "I was only married one day--less than one day. Everybody including my father keeps telling me I should get an annulment. But I don't want an annulment or a divorce. I want her back."
"Where is your wife now?"
"I don't know." He lit a cigarette with unsteady hands. "Dolly left in the middle of our honeymoon weekend, the day after we were married. She may have met with foul play."
"Or she may have decided she didn't want to b
Lew Archer's search for a missing bride turns into a complicated case involving a twenty-year-old murder and cover-up, a wealthy woman with a powerful hold over her son, and a dead blonde. Reprint. 12,500 first printing.
In The Chill a distraught young man hires Archer to track down his runaway bride. But no sooner has he found Dolly Kincaid than Archer finds himself entangled in two murders, one twenty yearsold, the other so recent that the blood is still wet. What ensues is a detective novel of nerve-racking suspense, desperately believable characters, and one of the most intricate plots ever spun by an American crimewriter.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
Ross Macdonald's real name was Kenneth Millar.Born near San Francisco and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Millar returned to the U.S. as a young man and published his first novel in 1944.Macdonald was a prolific writer and published numerous mystery novels.He was one of the few mystery writers whose books were taken seriously by literary critics during his time.His bestselling series of detective stories featuring private investigator Lew Archer began with The Moving Target in 1949.Lew Archer is characterized by a deep compassion for people in trouble and his reluctance to employ violent methods to resolve a conflict.Archer himself said "I have a secret passion for mercy.But justice is what keeps happening to people."Macdonald's stories are singular for their deep psychological insight and vivid metaphors and similes.He was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America and in 1974 was awarded their highest honor: the Grand Master Award.His approach to crime writing was heavily influenced by Raymond Chandler, with whom Macdonald shared the belief that a well-written mystery is as artistically valuable as any other type of literature.
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