Book Review: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe, 6)

The Long Goodbye is a classic novel by Raymond Chandler, first published in 1953. The novel features Chandler’s iconic private detective, Philip Marlowe, as he investigates the apparent suicide of his friend, Terry Lennox. The investigation takes Marlowe on a dark and twisted journey through the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, as he uncovers corruption, betrayal, and murder.

One of the strengths of The Long Goodbye is Chandler’s writing style. Chandler’s prose is hard-boiled and highly stylized, with vivid descriptions of the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. His writing style is often imitated but never duplicated, with a distinctive mix of tough-guy slang, vivid imagery, and sardonic humor. Chandler’s writing style is a key part of what makes “The Long Goodbye” such an engaging and entertaining read.

Another strength of the novel is the character of Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is the archetypal hard-boiled private detective, with a cynical worldview, a sharp wit, and a moral code that often puts him at odds with the corrupt world around him. Marlowe is a complex and fascinating character, with a rich inner life that is hinted at but never fully explored. He is a character that readers can root for and identify with, even as he navigates a dangerous and corrupt world.

The plot of The Long Goodbye is another strength of the novel. The story is complex and multi-layered, with a number of intersecting plotlines and subplots. The investigation into Terry Lennox’s death takes Marlowe from the wealthy mansions of the Hollywood elite to the seedy bars and back alleys of Los Angeles. Along the way, he encounters a cast of colorful characters, including crooked cops, corrupt politicians, and femme fatales.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Long Goodbye is the way that Chandler uses the novel to explore the theme of friendship. The novel is, at its core, a story about the friendship between Marlowe and Terry Lennox. Marlowe’s loyalty to his friend is tested throughout the novel, as he uncovers more and more evidence that suggests that Terry may not be the man he thought he was. The novel raises important questions about what it means to be a friend and how far one should go to help a friend in need.

Another strength of The Long Goodbye is the way that Chandler uses the novel to critique the corruption and hypocrisy of Los Angeles society. Chandler portrays Los Angeles as a city of glitz and glamour on the surface, but with a dark and dangerous underbelly lurking just beneath the surface. The wealthy and powerful in the city are shown to be corrupt and self-serving, with little concern for the lives of those who live on the margins of society. Chandler’s descriptions of the city are vivid and evocative, painting a picture of a city that is both seductive and menacing.

One of the weaknesses of The Long Goodbye is the pacing of the novel. While the story is complex and multi-layered, there are times when the novel feels slow and meandering. Some readers may find themselves losing interest in the story at certain points, particularly during some of the lengthier dialogues between characters.

Another weakness of the novel is the portrayal of female characters. While Marlowe is a complex and well-developed character, many of the female characters in the novel are portrayed as one-dimensional objects of desire. They are often portrayed as either seductive temptresses or helpless victims, with little agency of their own. This is a common feature of the hard-boiled detective genre, but it can be frustrating for modern readers who are used to more nuanced and complex female characters. Despite it’s flaws The Long Goodbye is a great read and you can pick up a copy from Amazon here.

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