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The Long Goodbyeby Raymond Chandler
Synopses & Reviews
The sixth in the Philip Marlowe series, The Long Goodbye is significant not only as the last book Raymond Chandler wrote but as a personal consummation of craft that brought his detective novels into the realm of distinguished fiction.
"The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers," Marlowe explains in an extraordinary opening line that establishes wealth, trouble, and the central figure of conflict in the story. Taking pity on Lennox, Marlowe brings him home to sober up. They begin a casual friendship, meeting for gimlets at Victor's; Marlowe learns that the scars on his face are mortar wounds and that he is married to the promiscuous daughter of multimillionaire Harlan Potter. Something in Lennox's character interests Marlowe, enough that he doesn't question why Lennox is asking for help getting to Mexico right after his wife has been brutally murdered. Marlowe does help, and is arrested and jailed. When Lennox turns up a suicide with a signed confession in Otatoclán, it gets Marlowe out of jail, but it does not get Lennox out of his life.
Gangsters, writers, publishers, quacks, and, of course, beautiful women enter Marlowe's life after Lennox's suicide, but not all meet on a trail readily connected to the solution of Sylvia Lennox's murder. Nor is it so apparent that Marlowe seeks to vindicate his dead friend, either. All we know is that Marlowe does not believe the Terry Lennox he knew was capable of such a vicious crime. The brief friendship has struck a sympathetic chord in him. In the hard-boiled world, no detective would ever give voice to feelings like these, and Marlowe doesn't. But such is the power and subtlety of Raymond Chandler's writing that we are always conscious of his central character's deep well of loyalty at work, driving this longest of goodbyes.
"Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner....An original....A great artist." The Boston Book Review
"Chandler is not only the best writer of hardboiled P.I. stories, he's one of the 20th century's top scribes, period." Library Journal
"Raymond Chandler is a master." The New York Times
"[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered." The New Yorker
"Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious." Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review
"Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye." Los Angeles Times
"[T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision." Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
"Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence." Ross Macdonald
"Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude." Erle Stanley Gardner
"Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since." Paul Auster
"[Chandler]'s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that's like ours, but isn't." Carolyn See
"His finest, most mature writing achievement." William F. Nolan
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. Now Lennox is on the lam and the cops and a crazy gangster are after Marlowe.
About the Author
Raymond Thornton Chandler (1888 1959) was the master practitioner of American hard-boiled crime fiction. Although he was born in Chicago, Chandler spent most of his boyhood and youth in England where he attended Dulwich College and later worked as a freelance journalist for The Westminster Gazette and The Spectator. During World War I, Chandler served in France with the First Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, transferring later to the Royal Flying Corps (R. A. F.). In 1919 he returned to the United States, settling in California, where he eventually became director of a number of independent oil companies. The Depression put an end to his career, and in 1933, at the age of forty-five, he turned to writing fiction, publishing his first stories in Black Mask. Chandler's detective stories often starred the brash but honorable Philip Marlowe (introduced in 1939 in his first novel, The Big Sleep) and were noted for their literate presentation and dead-on critical eye. Never a prolific writer, Chandler published only one collection of stories and seven novels in his lifetime. Some of Chandler's novels, like The Big Sleep, were made into classic movies which helped define the film noir style. In the last year of his life he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died in La Jolla, California on March 26, 1959.
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