on 17 May 2006
This is my first Marlow novel. I cherish its rememberance. I read it when I was about 15 and came like a blow in the stomach. Then I read all Marlow novels in a row.
Marlow is hired to protect a man while he perfoms some business. The man is killed and Marlow begins to investigate. It contains all the good topics of the black series: a honest, tough detective, beautiful gals, tough policemen, dirty politics, runaway gangsters...
This is a detection novel, but also - like good detective novels like Maigret, Waallander, Hammet - a social satire, a raw criticism of USA society and particularly of the affluent, rich, care-for-nothing upper class. The power of money can deform everybody, and little hope is there for the innocent or honest. Morality is nowhere to be found but in some obscure detective, some bitter police officers who cannot do anything about it.
But what I liked best was the clever dialoges, the witty conversation, the inteligent twists in the plot, which takes a new turn in every chapter. In the end, it was not so complicated. It was only a woman and a lot of money. But brother, it was worth the trouble.
In the end, love will take a rush at saving if only poetically those who are foolish enough to belive in love.
Worth the time.
on 28 July 2001
farewell my lovely is a superb example of Chandlers works showing that his use of dialogue coupled with his use of first person narrative creates an atmosphere that draws you in and won't let you go . The story itself is enough to keep the reader interested and so it is not surprising that this tail of a missing girl who has disapeared without a trace and one mans search for her can compell you to just keep on reading, I myself was late for work because of it. I think that the main appeal of this book is that it was written some sixty years ago and yet is still capturing peoples imaginations and still has an apeal that can't quite be fully explained, the style is serious dealing with race issues displaying the American polices indifference towards Blacks at the time (late 1930s) and humorous at the same purely because the mian character in this, and many other Chandler stories, Phillip Marlowe, has some superb lines that will make you smile if not laugh out loud. The dialogue is just perfect the banter the narrative and the serious investigative side of it all seeming to show that Chandler has thought alot about what the actual content of the book would be, rather than relying entirely on the story to sell itelf. This book covers alot of ground including many plot twists but still doesn't seem far fetched or ridiculous in fact it is a better book because of the plot complications . All in all one of the best books i have ever read.
The wonderfully gritty language and menacing atmosphere of any Chandler novel is ever-present in this deep-noir adventure, to immediately grip the reader and dazzle her on every page. Characters come with a sizzling edge of hyper-reality - dames, dicks, shysters and poodles in a litany of love for the reeking underworld of Los Angeles in its heyday.
On a nothing of a job, Marlowe gets caught up with a brute in love - Moose Molloy is out of the slammer and looking for his lady, Velma. But Velma doesn't want to be found and the trail Marlowe is accidentally forced to follow runs cold before taking a distinctly dangerous angle.
As always the plot is labyrinthine and unguessable until well-over halfway through, but it's the wisecracks that make it all worth while as Chandler takes us on a thrill-packed roller-coaster ride, complete with enough twists, tunnels, and turns to satisfy any reader. But it is in the quieter moments of meditation that come with a high literary value that Chandler reveals a poetic sensibility and intelligence that might suggest he is wasted on crime. I would argue, however, (and many critics would agree with me) that it is also here that we find the crossover abilities that put his merit too high for any banal classification. Chandler is always more than just a crime writer. Reading his work is always pure, unalloyed pleasure.
And you think 'The Big Sleep' is complicated? I dont know what is happening in the plot of this novel but, after a while, who cares anyway? Marlowe wisecracks his way around late 1930's Los Angeles taking a succession of sappings, druggings, pistol-whippings whilst consuming gallons of hard liqour.
There are five expositions of the plot before a befuddled Anne Riordan accuses Marlowe of 'guesswork'. Some of the one-liners and dialogue are just priceless. Of the gorgeous Mrs Grayle he says, 'she gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket' before topping it with, 'Whatever you needed, wherever you happened to be - she had it'.
Other reviewers rate this as Chandler's finest but I have reservations. Occasionally, the wisecracking is almost intrusive, 'I know I talk too smart' and even Grayle admonishes with, '..this isn't a bunch of gag lines , Mr Marlowe'. I feel guilty saying it, but at times 'Dead Men Dont Wear Plaid' flashed before me!Such reservations are akin to a speck of dust on the Crown Jewels.
Be aware that the novel has some unpleasant baggage, as various nasty prejudices are stridently espoused. Chandler cannot resist some nods to the detective novel genre (Sherlock, Philo Vance and Dr. Fell) as well as giving Ernest Hemingway a right kicking.
It's dark, corrupt and hard-boiled, yet it sparkles with wit and is beautifully paced.
I don't read a lot of thrillers and this is the first Chandler I've read. As many have said before, this is a step and a half above your average good thriller, the reason being the wit and intelligence of the prose, the elegance of the descriptions and the understanding of character which is compassionate, passionate and cynical all at the same time.
His flip one-liners aren't just clever, but oil the wheels of the plot. Some of the references I couldn't understand, they belong to the period or the locality, but the plot moves along because the characters find common ground by means of their expressions in the shifting sands of what is acceptable and what is not in the way of behaviour.
Another thing is that reading this is a bit like watching a film, Los Angeles comes to life before your eyes.
On the downside there's a slight sense of not looking very far beneath the surface, it would slow the book down.
on 25 February 2011
Raymond Chandler has written one of the greatest noir novels ever. A dark mystery story with so many intriguing characters.
Phillip Marlowe is the penultimate Private Investigator. His take-no-prisoners attitude along with his witty humour make him an instanty likeable character. Written in first person narrative, we follow Marlowe's investigation through a dark Los Angeles. Chandler's detail to the character Phillip Marlowe and The City Of Angels is very impressive. Full of wild characters such as a violent ex-con, a deadly femme fatale, tough cops, a violent Indian and relaxed gangsters, this isn't a story for everyone. Containing plenty of swearing and detailed violence, it is an intense read and some racist language that was pretty much the norm back in the 40's
Believe me, it will be a fast 250 pages as this is an intricate and outstanding detective story with plenty of twists and turns. Awesome stuff.
on 5 March 2015
Having read my first Philip Marlowe mystery sat predominantly being irritated by sand on a blisteringly hot beach in the south of Spain, I worried that my thorough enjoyment of Chandler's writing style may have been - at least in part - due to the tremendous involvement in the characters and plopt which led me to temporarily forget about the sand and the heat. I, thankfully, was wrong.
In a similar way to 'The Big Sleep', Chandler crafts an exquisite story around not so exquisite people. Our protagonist, Philip Marlowe, is timeless, stylish and witty. His cunning perhaps less honed than the accuracy we see in Sherlock Holmes but his doggedness is unparalleled.
It is this tenactity which means that the empathy we feel in a novel far removed from today culturally hits unerringly hard. There is little sense in trying to mentally update the narrative to the modern day as, in reality, Chandler effortlessly transports you back to post-war California. It is perhaps the chillingly authentic dialogue which makes you feel most like a fly on the wall and excuses some of the now politically incorrect descriptions of the books few non-white characters. In the end though, it is this realism which attracts the gritty utopia of the world Marlowe inhabits but in no way rules.
This novel is not just crime fiction at its finest, but literature at its finest. While it may never get the forensic scholarly battering of Conan Doyle or the plaudits derived from the social commentary of Harper Lee it does, in essence what all great books do; it enveleopes you in a world you do not know and leaves you feeling that real life just doesn't quite match up.
The slick and hard hitting style employed in this book belies its deeper social satire, metaphor and significance as a great character study. The character study is of both Marlowe and the glitzy, dirty world he inhabits. Themes include the effects of success on a personality, honour in places where people don't play by the rules, misplaced love and corruption in the heart of not only a judiciary system, but also the infrastructure of a whole area. It works well as a piece of literature filled with allusion and metaphor. It also works well as a thrilling detective novel - the distinctive and influential prose doesn't miss a beat, nor does the plot, which is lubricated with a pulled gun whenever things start to stick.
I've said all that without really touching on the main draw (in my opinion) of the book - Marlowe. I'll let Chandler say it like it is:
"Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness."
-- The Simple Art of Murder; the words mean streets were an inspiration for the title of Martin Scorsese's film Mean Streets.
Now buy this book and dangle before I start pumpin' lead!
on 24 September 2012
I first read this book in the late 40's and enjoyed it immensely,my favourite character is Moose Malloy, "on account of I'm large", he is the one around whom the whole plot revolves. Philip Marlowe will be well known to all Raymond Chandler fans and he is the storyteller in this saga. For those who like crime thrillers this book is a must and I enjoyed it just as much as on my original reading. (It may be of interest that it was made into an excellent film with Dick Powell as Marlowe and Mike Mazurki as 'Moose'. It was on TV recently and I enjoyed it just as much as when I showed it for a week as a projectionist. There is a great moment near the start when 'Moose' is seen as reflection in Marlowe's office window. Do view it if you have the opportunity, much better that the Robert Mitchum version.) JimR
"Farewell, My Lovely", Chandler's second Philip Marlowe novel, is a good deal more digestible than the first in the series. Written in 1940, it holds up well as a piece of fiction that defined a genre of dark, gritty, realistic detective writing, but boy does the plot get complicated - and unlikely - along the way.
The strength of Chandler's writing means he can get away with stories that don't hold up to much scrutiny. Here, he employs the useful device of repeating bits of the plot to remind us (and perhaps himself) of what has just happened, so that some kind of thread runs through another convoluted and vividly told story.
What starts out for Marlowe as a missing person case ends up being something rather more sinister, and en route we get some brilliant descriptions of the sleazy-glamorous world of Hollywood and Los Angeles in the 30s/40s. Chandler is actually a very fine writer on architecture, mood and atmosphere. He also does set piece action rather well, and it's the strength and vividness of these sequences and settings that hold the book together.
It could have done with some editing, and runs on way too long, with final plot strands being tied up rather conveniently and unconvincingly, but I guess we don't read Chandler for the plot. It's the mood he created that lingers, and that's why we come back for more.