Book name: Farewell, My Lovely
Author: Raymond Chandler
Publisher: Alfred A Knopf
Format: Print, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Detective Crime Fiction
Publication Date: 1940
Star Rating: 5/5
Philip Marlowe is Raymond Chandler’s famous detective, but that statement doesn’t begin to encapsulate just how well loved the character is.
Marlowe is as hard-boiled a private investigator as you’ll find. The opening chapters of Farewell, My Lovely were strewn with rich, vibrant phrases to establish his tough guy persona.
When Farewell, My Lovely begins, Marlowe has been asked to find a missing husband. He has no luck on that commission, but he ends up outside a ‘dine and dice’ emporium called Florian’s.
Marlowe is struck by the intensity of another man looking up at the sign and follows him inside.
The man says he’s looking for a woman called Little Velma. He’s been in prison and is searching for her. It’s eight years since their last meeting.
The bouncer says he’s never heard of Velma. The bouncer and the visitor get into a fight, but the latter can handle himself and he knocks the bouncer unconscious.
The barman identifies the manager as Mr Montgomery. The visitor, who introduces himself to Marlowe over a whisky sour as Moose Malloy, goes into the office to ask about Velma.
Florian’s is a pretty tough joint. Marlowe doesn’t bat an eyelid, but a nasty cracking sound drifts forward from the office.
Malloy reappears, having responded to the manager’s pulling a gun on him by snapping his neck. He leaves, taking the gun with him.
Marlowe tells the police what he knows and then sets about tracking down Mike Florian’s widow Jessie. She’s an alcoholic, but a pint of bourbon does the trick.
Jessie describes Velma as a redhead and finally locates a photo of her wearing a Pierrot costume.
Marlowe then receives a call from a Mr Marriott asking him for help. Marriott is going to a meeting with jewel thieves in order to buy back some jade jewellery a married lady friend of his had stolen in a hold up when they were out together one night.
He insists that Marlowe go with him to the rendezvous. At that meeting, Marriott is murdered after Marlowe is knocked unconscious. The gang make off with the money.
A woman stops to find out what is happening and she gives Marlowe a lift. Anne Riordan is pretty hard boiled and feisty, so she and Marlowe hit it off.
Anne tracks down Marriott’s lady friend, a Mrs Grayle, and the pair visit her together. Marlowe is very taken with the beautiful Mrs Grayle, whose husband is so besotted that he turns a blind eye to her many love affairs.
The discovery that Marriott owns Mrs Florian’s home establishes a connection between Velma, Moose Malloy and Marriott. Through Marriott, the whole group is connected to Mrs Grayle.
Marlowe sets about establishing the precise nature of the link as the police search for Moose Malloy continues.
I loved this story, which had a tight and well-developed plot. And I couldn’t get enough of Marlowe’s snappy phrases and cynical approach to life.
This was a cracking book. There was a great plot twist that really worked, and the narrative stayed punchy right to the end.
Thank you for reading my review.
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