Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

1st ed. Hardcover featuring LA private detective, Philip Marlowe.

1st ed. Hardcover featuring LA private detective, Philip Marlowe.

So, I guess third time’s the charm? because I picked up “Farewell, My Lovely” (1940) by Raymond Chandler after work last week and couldn’t put the book down.

“Farewell, My Lovely” by Raymond Chandler (1888 to 1959) is the 2nd book to feature private detective, Philip Marlowe. Marlowe was at the end of another case when he gets dragged along on a missing person search by ex-con, Moose Malloy, looking for his lady-love, Velma, in a” colored joint” on Central Avenue in Los Angeles.

Velma Valento was an entertainer, a Pierrot girl, eight years ago in what was once a white joint called Florians. The place has changed hands and no one knows who she is. Malloy says she quit writing to him six years ago while he was locked up in the Oregon State Pen for a bank robbery. He was caught because someone tipped off the police so he wants to find that person, too. Malloy’s brute force causes complications like murdering the manager. This is in the early pages of the story and not apart of the main plot. The police come after him but don’t know where to find him. Marlowe is asked to help find him but he gets hired to be a bodyguard for a rather tight-lipped gentleman trying to recover some stolen jewels. That takes him down a rabbit hole.

Marlowe goes into action, doing what he does best, asking questions, spitting out wisecracks while providing a little whisky to help loosen lips in his investigation. He has his work cut out for him when he’s confronted with corruption that points straight to Bay City, a town where people with enough money can buy elections. While working solo, Marlowe makes waves and turns the place upside down.

I enjoyed the story and the writing this time. Sometimes all it takes is the right book to get you in the door. What I enjoyed about the story was the mood and the atmosphere. I love Marlowe’s wisecracks and the people he exchanges them with. The criminals in here aren’t always just hiding out in the alleys. They are working at the police department or possibly in city government.  These are “business men.” They are people with power who can crush Marlowe to smithereens but Marlowe is too well known. The police know him and assist him in his cases sometimes so that usually gives him a thin shield of protection.

The parts I love are when the story is winding down and the connections are pointed out. Marlowe shares his theories but the reader doesn’t always have the information to fill in the gaps. There comes a point in the story where Marlowe has it all figured out and he sets his plan into motion. He goes through with his plan or trap that may leave the reader in the dark somewhat but it ultimately leads to the big reveal. Usually that big reveal is a big surprise twist. In this story, well, it was a surprise but I kind of had my suspicions.

I know this post is already too long but I have to mention Miss Anne Riordan. She’s a cop’s daughter who has an interest in “local crime” and likes Marlowe. She won me over when Marlowe asked for her name: “What’s your first name?” “Anne. And don’t call me Annie.” Chandler includes a little romance in his books when he finds an opportunity. Although Riordan and Marlowe kind of play it close to the sleeve, there is some chemistry between them. Needless to say I liked their scenes together because it added a light romantic, humorous touch to the story:

“Cops are just people,” she said irrelevantly. “They start out that way, I’ve heard.” “Oh—cynical this morning.” She looked around the office with an idle but raking glance. “Do you do pretty well in here? I mean financially? I mean, do you make a lot of money—with this kind of furniture?”

“Farewell, My Lovely” gets a 4 out of 5 from me. The story was wonderful, as well as the dialogue, characters, setting and atmosphere. The thing I like about Chandler is that he always tries to add some humor to an otherwise dark story. Violence is rarely graphic but there are violent crimes. He just doesn’t linger over the details. He has a hero you like and want to root for. Overall, this was a quick read that ran about 292 pages and I enjoyed it all told from Marlowe’s POV. I still want to read “High Window” and “The Little Sister” before the year is out.

Attribution: “ Raymond Chandler Farewell My Lovely” by Source.

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17 Responses to Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

  1. So glad you enjoyed this one, Keishon. I think Chandler was one of the real talents of that era, so it’s good to hear you found something of his to like. Admittedly, not all of his work is equally well-regarded. This one, I think, is one of his best.

    • Keishon says:

      Thanks Margot, as ever for your comments/thoughts. I learned after reading this story that this one was his best and I have to agree that it is. If anybody asked me about where to start with Chandler, I’d say start with Farewell, My Lovely and go from there.

  2. Rebecca says:

    So I just bought a Chandler collection to broaden my crime-reading horizons, and then your post appeared. After the busyness of the last two weeks, I’m looking for a brisk read like this.

    • Keishon says:

      Oh I hope you’ll enjoy this one, Rebecca and I think it’s the best one to start with, too.

  3. Casey Dorman says:

    I’ve always enjoyed Raymond Chandler, especially his Philip Marlowe novels. Little Sister and Lady in the Lake are my favorites. Marlowe and Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer are the best of the wise-cracking P.I.s and a lot of people consider their novels real literature.

    • Keishon says:

      Thanks Casey! I actually do have Lady in the Lake in my library so I will add it to my list. I wasn’t a big fan of The Big Sleep so I was happy to find that his second book was a much better read. I love wise-cracking PI’s and was only reading Robert B. Parker’s Spencer for awhile. I must-read the Lew Archer series. Thank you again!

  4. tracybham says:

    I loved The Big Sleep so I wonder if I will like this one as well. I do want to read it soon because I recently bought one of the film adaptations. Too much that I want to read and not enough time.

    • Keishon says:

      I hear about you about not having enough time. The Big Sleep wasn’t bad but the book didn’t grab me like this one did.

  5. FictionTimes.com says:
  6. Col says:

    I think I read one years ago, can’t remember which and I haven’t rushed back to him. I expect I’ll find a few in the attic! Glad you enjoyed it and you have opened my eyes to giving him a second go.

  7. Keishon, I have never read Raymond Chandler and I’m the poorer for it, just as I’m for not reading Dashiell Hammett yet. The two are often written about together.

    • Keishon says:

      Well, I still prefer Hammett over Chandler but read them when you’re ready, Prashant. Their books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  8. Ken Caines says:

    Thanks for the review! I’ve read all of Chandler’s novels. Same with Hammett, James Lee Burke, Elmore Leonard, Ross MacDonald, Deighton, Le Carre, Connely, Grafton… so many great authors out there!! All that said, imo, John D MacDonald’s Travis McGee series is still tops on my list when it comes to recurring character novels. Though not necessary, it’s best to read that series in order. Start with The Deep Blue Goodbye, and finish with The Lonely Silver Rain. 21 novels in total. Some better than others, of course….

    • Keishon says:

      Hi Ken, I’m currently on the Lew Archer series with The Drowning Pool. I have Travis McGee series coming up as well. I own at least the first five books in that series and I do plan to read those in order.

      • Ken Caines says:

        Excellent. Will be sure to keep an eye out for your upcoming reviews. Happy Reading!

  9. westwoodrich says:

    We definitely agree on Farewell being better than The Big Sleep. The first one felt like he was throwing everything at it, this one is a bit more measured. I’m really hoping things work out with Anne…

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