The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye
Raymond Chandler, 1953

Premise: Private investigator Philip Marlowe strikes up an odd friendship with Terry Lennox, the husband of a local socialite. When addiction, envy, wealth, and conspiracy cause murder and mayhem among the upper crust, Marlowe gets drawn into a social class where all that glitters is dross.

I recently reread this book and was reminded how much I love it. I love the style. I love the careful word choices that evoke very specific images and provide subtle commentary on events. The characters are larger than life but still grounded enough to be believed.

I love Marlowe. He’s not a great person, but he’s decent, and he has a particular moral code. Unfortunately for him, he’s just slightly too moral for the situations he finds himself in, which means he gets beaten up. By corrupt cops, by hired thugs, by gangsters... Marlowe takes a heck of a thrashing in this book and doesn’t get much in return.

It’s occasionally of its time, although there’s only one sexist comment in the book that I truly recoiled from. Even that one (a crude comment about a girl by a pool who was made ugly by laughing) I suspect was there not as a comment by the author, but so you’d remember that Marlowe is not a refined guy.

The occasional crudeness and edge of the style is part of the charm. This isn’t the false over-the-top grittiness of imitators. Reading Chandler is a master class - the best of the hard-boiled style.

5 Stars - An Awesome Book


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