"Revered by such contemporary masters as Sue Grafton, George Pelecanos, and James Ellroy, praised by Eudora Welty as "a more serious and complex writer than Chandler and Hammett ever were," Ross Macdonald (the pseudonym of Kenneth Millar) brought to the crime novel a new realism and psychological depth and a unique gift for intricately involving mystery narratives. For his centennial, The Library of America inaugurates its Macdonald edition with four classic novels from the 1950s, all featuring his incomparable protagonist, private investigator Lew Archer. Set against the background of a glittering yet darkly enigmatic Southern California, Macdonald's books are both unsurpassed entertainments and emotionally powerful evocations of an outwardly prosperous, inwardly turbulent America. Macdonald mastered the hard-boiled detective form early on and brought to it a prose style of extraordinary beauty. The four novels collected in the volume reveal him broadening the genre into an intensely personal means of expression, transforming the tragedies and dislocations of his own life into haunting fiction. "My interest," he wrote to his publisher, "is the exploration of lives."