Saturday, December 22, 2012

Book Review: The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Reviewer: Alan Chin
Publisher: Vintage Books
Pages: 377

Iconic private detective Philip Marlowe befriends a down-on-his-luck war veteran who seems to struggle with alcoholism. Marlowe soon finds that Terry Lennox struggles with more than booze, he has a very wealthy nymphomaniac wife who ends up murdered. Terry Lennox goes on the lam, but not before involving Marlowe in the whole confusing mess. The harder Marlowe fights to extricate himself from the quicksand of mystery, the deeper he sinks.

For many years I’ve been hearing from writers I respect that Chandler is a must read. The Long Goodbye was my introduction to this famous mystery writer and I was pleasantly impressed. The story introduces an ensemble of interesting characters and weaves an impressively complex plot that keeps the reader turning pages long into the night.

Each scene swings back and forth between danger and humor, between suspense and reward. He constantly uncovers character traits, and also truths about the human condition. The reader can’t help but fall in love with Marlowe, who blends a tough brashness with steadfast integrity.

The prose rises to superlative eloquence, and the reader soon discovers they are in the hands of a master craftsman, who hypnotizes with words while weaving his web. Chandler is not merely a gifted storyteller, he is a stylist, and artist with vision.

Chandler is, as so many fellow writers have proclaimed, a must read.

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