Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Farewell, My Lovely

Farewell, My LovelyFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Philip Marlowe is looking for a woman's missing husband when he encounters Moose Malloy, a brute fresh out of prison, looking for his lost love Velma. Moose kills a man and Marlowe gets corralled into looking for the missing Velma. In the mean time, Marlowe gets another gig as a bodyguard and soon winds up with a corpse for a client. Will Marlowe find Velma and get to the bottom of things?

As I've said before, noir fiction and I go together like chronic constipation and heroin addiction. Farewell, My Lovely, Philip Marlowe's sophmore adventure, is one of the better noir tales I've ever read.

I wasn't completely sold on Farewell, My Lovely at first. It seemed like it took a little longer to get started than the Big Sleep. Once Marlowe got warmed up and I forgave it for not being The Big Sleep, I was completely absorbed by the writing. Chandler's poetic prose only got better in the gap between the Big Sleep and this book. There were even more quotable lines in this one. Chandler's similes reminded me of P.G. Wodehouse's at times, maybe the kind old Plum would write if he was in the grips of a powerful hangover.

"I lit a cigarette. It tasted like a plumber's handkerchief."

As for the plot, it's only slightly less convoluted than the Big Sleep. The two cases didn't intersect much until the end and I only guessed the big twist a paragraph or two before it happened. As with the previous book, the prose was the star of the show. Marlowe took so many blows to the head in this one that I had sympathy pains while reading it.

While I wouldn't say it's as good as The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely is a classic and not to be missed by noir fans. Four easy stars.

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