The Way Some People Die

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The Way Some People Die
First edition
Author Ross Macdonald
Country United States
Language English
Series Lew Archer
Genre Detective, Mystery novel
Publisher Knopf
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Preceded by The Drowning Pool
Followed by The Ivory Grin

The Way Some People Die is a detective mystery written in 1951 by Ross Macdonald, the third book featuring his private eye, Lew Archer.

Plot introduction[edit]

Middle-aged Mrs. Samuel Lawrence gives Lew Archer 50 dollars for one day of his time to find her daughter Galatea (a.k.a. Galley) who has been missing since just before Christmas. Archer soon discovers she was married to a small-time mobster named Joe Tarantine. Starting the investigation in the most likely place, with Tarantine’s brother, Mario, Lew finds the man in the hospital after a severe beating that has left him almost unrecognizable. And shortly after that, a big-time mobster offers him five thousand to find Tarantine. The investigation quickly gains a body count and Lew is constantly drawn from Los Angeles to Pacific Point (a fictionalized version of La Jolla[1] ), Palm Springs, San Francisco, and back again, trying to tie together details that seem as random as they are violent. As the bodies pile up, so does Archer’s confusion, but he remains undeterred by the situation, relying on his well-honed instinct for deviant behavior and the venal intentions of others. Still, the bodies accumulate at an alarming rate, a handsome part-time actor found dead in his apartment, a newlywed husband on the lam, a boat piled on the rocks, fast-talking women, everybody with a handout or hidden agenda.[2]

Facts and quotations[edit]

This book introduces the second of two cities Ross invented and was to use commonly in his work, Pacific Point, located south of Los Angeles.[1]

"Some of my colleagues think that The Way Some People Die is the best of my twenty books." – Ross Macdonald.

"The best novel in the tough tradition I've read since Farewell, My Lovely and possibly since The Maltese Falcon." – Anthony Boucher, New York Times book review, August 5, 1951.

"The greatest American mystery novelist. Macdonald imbued the mystery with the qualities of a full-bodied novel: impeccable plotting, a sense of place, a careful delineation of human psychology, and a perfect fusion of story and character." – Richard North Patterson

"Ross Macdonald gives to the detective story that accent of class that Raymond Chandler did." – The Chicago Tribune

"I'm not sure why I prefer The Way Some People Die to The Moving Target, the first book in the series, or The Galton Case, in which Macdonald distances himself from the influence of Chandler. I just like the nastiness of the plot and the sharpness of the dialogue." – Dick Lochte, The 14 Best Private Eye Novels of All Time, 2012.[3]