The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Long Goodbye is a book I should have read years ago. It was published in 1953 and has been very popular since it came out. Since most people who will read this review already know who Philip Marlowe is either from the books or the classic films, this will be just a brief reflection on my own impressions.
I love Raymond Chandler's style. He writes with detail and a rough attitude that is in most of the characters, but ultimately belongs to Marlowe because the book is from his point of view.
Here's a dialogue example:
“Talk it up. Who wants him?”
“The name's Marlowe.”
“This Chick Agostino?”
“No, this ain't Chick. Come on, let's have the password.”
“Go fry your face.”
And here's a narration example:
He handled the second slug with one hand. I did a fast washup in the bathroom and the bell of the timer went just as I got back. I cut the flame and set the coffee maker on a straw mat on the table. Why did I go into such detail? Because the charged atmosphere made every little thing stand out as a performance, a movement distinct and vastly important. It was one of those hypersensitive moments when all your automatic movements, however long established, however habitual, become separate acts of will. You are like a man learning to walk after polio. You take nothing for granted, absolutely nothing at all.
But it isn't just the Chandler style that appeals to me. His plot is complex and interesting. I had my theories as the book progressed. Most of them didn't turn out to be right, but some did. I like a detective story that's logical enough to figure out, but doesn't hit you over the head.
There were a few coincidences that weren't believable, I didn't like the way Marlowe met Terry Lennox in the beginning of the novel because they became too friendly too soon, and I thought it a bit implausible that there were so many drunken philanderers in Idle Valley. But those were minor gripes. This is a great book that everyone who likes crime stories should read.
Steve Lindahl – author of Motherless Soul and White Horse Regressions
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