I seem to be a sucker for "Philip Marlowe" novels authorized by the Raymond Chandler estate. This started a long time ago with Poodle Springs and Perchance to Dream from Robert B. Parker. (The first being a sorta-collaboration between Chandler and Parker, the second being entirely Parker.) Since then, I've bought and read The Black-Eyed Blonde by John Banville; Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne; The Goodbye Coast by Joe Ide. And now this.
I'd read a couple books by Denise Mina in past years, and I thought they were OK. But a Marlowe novel written by a Scottish lady? Would that work, or would that be like (I dunno…) Mickey Spillane writing a sequel to Pride and Prejudice?
Reader, I thought it worked great. Ms. Mina has a feel for Chandler's prose, her take on Marlowe's character is spot on, her descriptions of late-1930s Los Angeles are evocative. If anything, she turns the Chandlerisms up to 11, starting on page one, where Marlowe is mulling the too-tidy solution to the last case he worked: "There was something wrong, something bad in it, like a mouthful of soup with a stray hair that brushes your lip on the way in and then disappears."
But soon enough Marlowe gets a new job, via a mysterious phone call from a husky-voiced woman summoning him to the Montgomery Mansion. ("She left a small pause that might have meant yes, or no, or come over here and kiss me right now.") Chrissie Montgomery, the only heir to the vast Montgomery fortune, has gone missing, walking voluntarily into the mean streets of LA. Could Marlowe track her down?
Well, of course he can. But nothing is ever simple. Along the way, everyone consumes copious amounts of alcohol and nicotine. Some sexual practices ranging from the unconventional to the perverse. There are, of course, murders that need to be solved, cops to be avoided, dames to be rescued.
Fun stuff: Marlowe visits the famed Bradbury Building and the Angels Flight funicular. And a character from Farewell, My Lovely, Ann Riordan, re-enters Marlowe's life and plays an important role here.