Farewell, My Lovely

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This was number two on my "Chandler/Marlowe" reading project. And I had a 95¢ paperback that I bought back in the early 1970s. Today, you can get a paperback version from Amazon for $14.54. I'm sure it's nice.

Marlowe falls into this case by accident. While doing a fruitless missing person investigation, he runs into Moose Malloy, a giant who's just finished up an eight-year stint in prison. And he's looking for the love of his life, Velma, who used to sing at Florian's. Which was back then, but now Florian's is an African-American establishment (or, as Moose puts it, a "dinge joint"). And nobody's heard of Velma, but the resulting ruckus sends the bar owner to the morgue, and Moose goes on the lam.

Sheer curiosity has Marlowe track down the wife of Florian's former owner, who's susceptible to booze-bribery. But nevertheless acts suspiciously when Marlowe asks about Velma. Then a new client pops up, looking for someone to accompany him on a mission to ransom a stolen bit of jade…

Which would be OK, except the client winds up dead, and Marlowe not only plays the sap, he gets sapped.

Marlowe takes a lot of physical and nightmarish mental abuse as the book proceeds. Some from dirty cops, some from a phony psychic and his retinue, some from mobsters. (But, as in The Big Sleep, the main mobster here is actually trying to minimize his violent thuggery—it's bad for his business.)

This book has unending examples of Chandleresque description; including one of the most famous: "It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained glass window."

And the book made me reflect on the current fad of bowdlerizing old books. If they can do it to Ian Fleming and Roald Dahl, why not Chandler? There's plenty for the wannabe censors to red-pencil here.

Last Modified 2024-01-13 5:02 AM EST