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Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Farewell, My Lovely (original 1940; edition 1988)

by Raymond Chandler

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3,085581,837 (4.09)147
Title:Farewell, My Lovely
Authors:Raymond Chandler
Info:Vintage (1988), Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, mystery

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Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (1940)


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A great detective story that is the embodiment of the hardboiled detective genre. ( )
  kale.dyer | Jun 14, 2016 |
"There was something wrong with the job from the start. I could feel it. But I needed the money." (pg. 77)

Farewell, My Lovely is an excellent read and a profound improvement on the first Philip Marlowe book, The Big Sleep. That previous book compensated for its style-over-substance approach by ramping the style up to eleven; for Farewell, My Lovely that dial is still on eleven, but author Raymond Chandler has turned the substance up to match.

The prose and the dialogue are as gorgeous as ever. Some of the conversations bristle with energy, and there's scarcely a collection of words that can set a scene so succinctly as the following: "There was just enough fog to make everything seem unreal. The wet air was as cold as the ashes of love." (pg. 268). That's just one of many, many examples I could give, and I find it telling that many reviews of Chandler's books – particularly this one – seem to consist of a list of the reviewer's favourite passages. Chandler is the master of evocative and original similes – it's intoxicating to read.

Furthermore, in Farewell, My Lovely, Chandler has not just provided flair but, in contrast to The Big Sleep, the plot has considerable steel to it. The various threads all link together nicely, and the deaths at the end carry emotional impact. It's sometimes hard to follow why Marlowe is investigating a certain person or place but there is an underlying coherence about it (even if it sometimes eludes you), and the rhythm of the prose is smooth enough to keep things moving.

The characters are larger-than-life, but have an underlying tragedy about them so that they never seem cartoonish. Moose Malloy is an imposing figure and Randall has a good few meeting-of-minds with Marlowe. The main women – Mrs Grayle and Anne Riordan – are engaging, and Red is a good one-scene wonder. But above all, this is Marlowe's stage. The character really comes into his own in this book; he was carried along by the tide of events a bit in The Big Sleep, but here he's the one making waves. And usually getting cracked on the back of the head with a blackjack for his trouble. He's a refreshingly reckless character: his detective skills need a bit of work, but in fairness he does spend the best part of the novel either concussed or drunk. It's hard not to feel fondness for the underdog with a bit of swagger; the scrappy with a core of nobility. As characters repeatedly tell Marlowe when he's doing something reckless, "you take some awful chances, mister." But I'm glad I took a chance on Chandler.

"I got up on my feet and went over to the bowl in the corner and threw cold water on my face. After a little while I felt a little better, but very little. I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun. I put them on and went out of the room." (pg. 248) ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
1940 ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
Not my normal type of book choice, this was my first Raymond Chandler novel. Private Detective Philip Marlowe witnesses the murder of a Negro at the hands of an enormous white man just released from prison. He's not the murdering type - just doesn't appear to know his own strength and he's looking for his girlfriend, last seen as this now-"colorored" establishment. His desire to know more leads him into all sorts of trouble, from which he emerges, if not unscathed, at least free to fight to fight another day. At first I wasn't sure I'd like this book because there were so much slang that was particular to the day (dinge, smokes, and shine for example, which turned out to be slightly less offensive terms for people of color than the "N" word) and the casual way racism is accepted as the norm. It's not a book about racism however, and If you can get past the language, it is a very witty book. He is a master of the one liners. Some of my favorites:

"Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food."

ÛÏHe had a battered face that looked as if it had been hit by everything but the bucket of a dragline. It was scarred, flattened, thickened, checkered, and welted. It was a face that had nothing to fear. Everything had been done to it that anybody could think of.‰Û

‰ÛÏWe sneered at each other across the desk for a moment. He sneered better than I did.‰Û

"The house itself was not so much. It was smaller than Buckingham Palace, rather gray for California, and probably had fewer windows than the Chrysler Building. I sneaked over to the side entrance and pressed a bell and somewhere a set of chimes made a deep mellow sound like church bells. A man in a striped vest and gilt buttons opened the door, bowed, took my hat and was through for the day."

"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun."

And...this discussion between the cop Nulty telling Philip Marlowe about the capture of the man they thought was their perpetrator: "All we had to go up against him was two county cops with guns and blackjacks...So he done exercises with the cops and when they was tired enough to go to sleep, he pulled one side off their car, threw the radio into the ditch, opened a fresh bottle of hooch, and went to sleep hisself. After a while the boys snapped out of it and bounced blackjacks off his head for about 10 minutes before he noticed it."

And...this: "...I was looking at a tall blond man in a white flannel suit with a violet satin scarf around his neck. There was a cornflower in the lapel of his white coat and his pale blue eyes looked faded out by comparison. The violet scarf was loose enough to show that he wore no tie and that he had a thick, soft brown neck, like the neck of a strong woman. His features were a
little on the heavy side, but handsome, he had an inch more of height than I had, which made him six feet one. His blond hair was arranged, by art or nature, in three precise blond ledges which reminded me of steps, so that I didn't like them. I wouldn't have liked them anyway. Apart from all this he had the general appearance of a lad who would wear a white flannel suit with a violet scarf around his neck and a cornflower in his lapel."
( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
Like it says in a review in the back cover, "Raymond Chandler is a master!" And it shows again in this novel! The character of Moose Malloy is a classic! And as Marlowe chases him, he runs into a jewel heist, murder, quack psychic, an offshore gambling boat, and dames! My only beef is that it's hard to read the racist comments Marlowe thinks/says, even if that is just how it was when it was written. Still, it's Chandler, it's Marlowe, and it's a good, fun read! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Jan 23, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (30 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chandler, Raymondprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dexter, ColinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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It was one of the mixed blocks over on Central Avenue, the blocks that are not yet all Negro.
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Book description
Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394758277, Paperback)

Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:21 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Moose Malloy, a six-foot-five giant just out of prison, gets detective Philip Marlowe involved in his seemingly hopeless search for Velma, his missing girlfriend.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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