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The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler Review

Title: The Long Goodbye

Author: Raymond Chandler

First published January 1, 1953

379 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780394757681 (ISBN10: 0394757688)

Rating: 4.19


Philip Marlowe is back, and this time he’s got his hands full. His friend Terry Lennox is in a bind, and Marlowe is the only one he can turn to.

With a dead millionaire wife and the heat of the LA police department hot on his heels, Lennox needs to get out of town quick. Marlowe is ready to help, but when Lennox commits suicide in Mexico, everything takes a turn for the worse.

In a seedy underworld of adultery and alcoholism, Marlowe is determined to clear his friend’s name. But with the bodies piling up and the truth seemingly out of reach, can Marlowe solve the case before it’s too late?

About the Author

Raymond Thornton Chandler was an accomplished American novelist and screenwriter who made a career change at the age of 44 during the Great Depression. After being laid off from his job as an oil company executive, Chandler decided to pursue writing detective fiction.

His debut short story, “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot,” was published in 1933 in the renowned pulp magazine Black Mask. In 1939, Chandler published his first novel, The Big Sleep, followed by seven more during his lifetime.

One of his unfinished manuscripts was completed by Robert B. Parker.

Most of Chandler’s works were adapted into movies, some more than once. He was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America and passed away in 1959 in La Jolla, California.

Chandler’s writing style had a significant impact on American popular literature and is often credited as one of the founders of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, and other Black Mask writers.

Chandler’s character Philip Marlowe, and Hammett’s Sam Spade, are synonymous with the term “private detective” and were both portrayed on screen by Humphrey Bogart, who many believe embodied the quintessential Marlowe.

Chandler’s novels are not just popular genre fiction, but also considered important literary works. Three of them, namely The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and The Long Goodbye, are often regarded as masterpieces in the genre.

In an anthology of American crime stories, Farewell, My Lovely is hailed as “arguably the first book since Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, published more than twenty years earlier, to qualify as a serious and significant mainstream novel that just happened to possess elements of mystery.”

Editoral Review

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler is a classic hardboiled detective novel first published in 1953. Chandler is considered one of the fathers of the genre, known for his sharp prose, vivid characters, and gritty settings.

The Long Goodbye follows his iconic private detective Philip Marlowe as he investigates a case that starts with a simple request to help a down-on-his-luck war veteran and evolves into a complex web of treachery, corruption, and murder. Set in 1950s Los Angeles, The Long Goodbye is a portrait of a city in transition, wrestling with the aftermath of World War II, the rise of organized crime, and the changing social norms of postwar America.

Chandler captures the atmosphere of the city with his keen eye for detail, from its neon-lit streets to its smoky bars and luxurious mansions. He populates it with a cast of memorable characters, from the cynical Marlowe to the enigmatic writer Roger Wade to the seductive gangster’s moll Velma.

The plot of The Long Goodbye is twisty and unpredictable, with many false leads, red herrings, and surprises. Chandler’s prose is sharp and witty, full of clever wordplay and memorable one-liners.

He weaves together multiple storylines and themes, including loyalty, betrayal, honor, and love, into a seamless whole that keeps the reader engaged from start to finish. However, The Long Goodbye also has its flaws.

Some reviewers have criticized the novel for being too convoluted and hard to follow, with too many characters and subplots. Others have accused Chandler of being too formulaic and not innovating enough within the genre.

Furthermore, some readers might find the book’s portrayal of women and minorities problematic, as they are often relegated to passive or stereotypical roles. Despite these criticisms, The Long Goodbye remains a classic of the hardboiled detective genre and a must-read for fans of noir fiction.

It stands out for its vivid setting, colorful characters, and sharp prose. It also has cultural and historical significance, as it reflects the anxieties and contradictions of postwar America and the emergence of the Cold War.

Its themes of moral ambiguity, corruption, and disillusionment are still relevant today. Overall, I would highly recommend The Long Goodbye to anyone who enjoys a good detective story or a slice of gritty urban life.

It is a masterful work of crime fiction that has stood the test of time and continues to influence contemporary writers. I would rate it 4.5 out of 5 stars for its skillful storytelling, vivid characters, and evocative setting.