ROSS MACDONALD – The Goodbye Look. Lew Archer #15. Alfred A. Knopf, hardcover, April 1969. Bantam, paperback; 1st printing, June 1970. Reprinted many times since, in both hardcover and soft.

   Published toward the end of the Lew Archer series, The Goodbye Look had a strong feeling of weariness to it when I read it this past week, that and a sense of déjà vu, as if Macdonald were repeating in it many of the same themes he’d already gone through several times before.

   It begins when Archer is hired by a lawyer to find an old gold box that has just been stolen from the family of one of his long time clients. His family and theirs are close — so close, in fact, that not only do they live across the street from each other, but the lawyer’s daughter is engaged to be married to the son of the couple for whom he’s been working for so long.

   One strong suspect is the son, a college student who is a very emotionally disturbed young man, and one possibly important factor is that he has recently been taking up with an older woman. A private detective has also been seen in town looking for someone, and when Archer finds his dead body in a car on the beach, the case begins in earnest.

   And as is always true in Lew Archer’s cases, the problems that exist in the present have long-standing roots in the past. Lost loves and lost lives, intricately interlaced with relationships known and unknown between (in this case) three if not four families.

   I always get a pervasive feeling of melancholy, of dark clouds above, whenever I read one of Macdonald’s books, no matter how sunny the Southern California sky may be. The Goodbye Look is no exception. Archer may make his way from San Diego to Pasadena and back several times in this book, but the case itself he always has with him. It is part of him, and he won’t let go.