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The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

The Long Goodbye (1953)

by Raymond Chandler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Philip Marlowe (6)

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3,993861,893 (4.17)1 / 178

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English (82)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (86)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
Raymond Chandler is awesome. On one level, he's writing your basic hard-boiled, noire detective fiction. But on another level, he provides well-drawn character development as well as intelligent commentary on the problems of society. His protagonist, Philip Marlowe is a smart ass, but somehow he's not so annoying in that role because it's clear that he's also basically a fundamentally decent human being.

In this book, Marlowe befriends a drunk. The drunk gets involved in some way with the murder of his rich-heiress spouse, who is also notoriously promiscuous, and flees to Mexico, where he apparently commits suicide. Marlowe isn't convinced the guy murdered his spouse, nor that he committed suicide. He becomes even more suspicious when fancy mobsters and rich tycoons make the effort to warn him off the case. Marlowe inadvertently becomes involved with several other people who seem also to be peripherally involved with the drunk and his dead spouse. Some of those people end up dead as well. It's all rather a convoluted tale, but quite interesting. Along the way, we are treated to some very wise commentary on the human condition. Little has changed in the past 60 years. Of course, if one has read Dickens or the Bible, one realizes that little has changed in the past 150 years or past five millenia. ( )
  lgpiper | Jun 21, 2019 |
It makes perfect sense that some readers consider this to be Chandler's greatest Marlowe book, and some consider it to be not on par with the others. This book takes the time to explore fully the themes of loss and corruption and the all-around grime of the human condition, as well as the way a single person can stumble into one's life and change it forever. Marlowe is a man who cares too much and hates himself for caring (maybe all great literary cops/detectives are), and we've never seen him so personally affected as he is in this book. He tries to do the right thing by helping a drunk guy who needs a ride, and he finds himself liking the guy despite his best efforts. The rest is of course one devastation after another, and the book itself truly is one long goodbye. But "long" is in the title on purpose, I'm guessing. Chandler knows this book's pacing isn't as crisp; it's mournful instead, and there's a great difference in the layering and the resonance he is capable of when, instead of 250 pages, he gives himself almost 400.

As you probably guessed, I'm in the camp that calls this the greatest Marlowe book. Not because of the mystery (the reveal isn't altogether shocking) or the plotting but because of the carefully spun mood of sadness and the characters that will stick with me longer than some others Chandler has written (Roger Wade in particular).

Marlowe, I'm sorry. For every goodbye you've said in six books. ( )
  AmandaGStevens | Mar 2, 2019 |

Again, 5. My thoughts remain about the same concerning its quality and the special attention paid to the lonely details of Marlowe's life. The parallel between Marlowe and Mrs. Wade concerning their relationships with Lennox was nicely done.


The Private Dick, or Detective, is a common archetype as familiar to us as "It was a dark and stormy night," and potentially as tired. I've seen plenty of the movies and read plenty of the short stories and parodies that have descended from the genre...but I'd never read the real thing.

I'm more familiar with the British Detective, a different breed of creature entirely, from Sherlock Holmes to Miss Marple to Lord Peter Wimsey, there's always an aloof distance between the reader and the detective, which sticks despite efforts by P.D. James and Colin Dexter to modernize the genre.

Philip Marlowe is anything but aloof. His motives are directed more from personal relationships with the people involved in the cases rather than JUSTICE or LAW. Clever, and a smart man, Marlowe is more likely to be a smart-alec than a wit and relies less on deduction and more on perseverance and luck. Marlowe takes a lot of kicks and slaps in getting his answers, but he always strikes back when it matters most. And fuck, the guy is smooth.

The success of The Long Goodbye is hands down due to Chandler's rich writing. The plot is solid, but it is the arresting imagery and jaw-dropping simile and dialogue that sounds so tossed off and, while forever verging on the ridiculous, dead-perfect. I'm not going to bother quoting passages, 'cause there's plenty of that here already, just know that there are hundreds and hundreds more where they came from. If you can't find the book, the bulk of the thing is in the quotes section.

The book was apparently written at a dark time in Chandler's life, his wife dying of cancer and all, which comes through in the contemplative scenes of Marlowe sitting alone in a bar or at home over a chess puzzle. Having been published in the early 1950s, there's plenty of things that wouldn't exactly fly these days, from frails to knife-fondling Latinos, but it all adds to the reality of his setting. Chandler writes about a stylized post-war Los Angeles that both romanticizes and tears down our preconceived notions about the era. He wasn't about to leave his and his character's opinions to subtext and allusion.

I can't believe I stayed away from the genre for so long. Reading this was like rediscovering classics films all over again: style, class and just the right amount of shadows. I may reconsider those five stars after I've read a few more of these, but I don't think so.

See Also:

Later Novels and Other Writings ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
This is a mystery with the P.I. Phllip Marlowe and it is set in California. A pretty good mystery with lots of twists and turns. A woman dies, her husband disappears and commits suicide. Marlowe can't let it lie. He gets threatened by the woman's father, the police and the mob. This is considered "hard boil" but it is a lot easier reading than some of the other crime novels on the 1001 Books ..... list. You can at least laugh reading this one. It was written in 1953 but it doesn't read as that dated. ( )
  Kristelh | Feb 1, 2019 |
I thought I had already read this so when I got my dad's paperback copy, I didn't read it right away. Well, it turns out I hadn't read it & now I am sorry I let it sit on the shelf so long! Chandler managed to surprise me with twists right up to the end. And unlike some of his earlier works, there was very little objectionable language (i.e. little to no racial slurs, etc.). ( )
  leslie.98 | Dec 14, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chandler, Raymondprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bakema, BenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Costa, Flávio Moreira daTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deaver, JefferyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fischer, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gould, ElliottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grandfield, GeoffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hérisson, JanineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kanerva, TimoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lara, José AntonioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
López Muñoz, José LuisTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oddera, BrunoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Papp, ZoltánTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Robillot, HenriTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wollschläger, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394757688, Paperback)

Marlowe befriends a down on his luck war veteran with the scars to prove it. Then he finds out that Terry Lennox has a very wealthy nymphomaniac wife, who he's divorced and re-married and who ends up dead. and now Lennox is on the lam and the cops and a crazy gangster are after Marlowe.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Trouble is Philip Marlowe's business. A young drunk slides from under the driving-wheel of a silver wraith, into his arms. His hair's white, his face scared, and he's called Terry Lennox. Soon, Marlowe's thigh-high in a murder case, cooling his heels in the felony tank.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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