Farewell, My Lovely
It's 1940. Europe is at war, but the United States hasn't joined in yet. Pearl Harbor doesn't happen until the end of 1940.
Philip Marlowe is a private detective trying to make a living in Los Angeles. Marlowe is looking for a missing man in a racially mixed neighborhood in the city. Instead, he sees a huge man dressed in flashy clothing. He follows the large man instead. The man's name is Moose Malloy. He has just been released from prison and he's looking for his girlfriend from 8 years earlier. The night club where Velma worked years earlier has gone from a white club to a Negro club. No one knows Velma there. Malloy starts searching the neighborhood. Marlowe's interest is caught, so he stays with Malloy a while.
This curiosity leads Marlowe into a twisty, turny mystery that is an example of the noir mystery writing of the time period. Raymond Chandler captured that feel and brought it to life in his novels. That feel was then transferred to movies as well. Mystery readers and movie buffs alike know the classic, shadowy feel of the 1930's to 1940's noir mystery. Many of them are set around Hollywood, bringing in the shady side of that glamor.
Farewell, My Lovely is a fairly short novel, but Chandler captures the feeling exactly. There is a scene that caught me in:
Those four sentences evoke an atmosphere that is throughout the book. Chandler is able to set the background with sentences like this as Marlowe tries to solve the different cases that fall in his lap in Farewell, My Lovely.
At the same time, this book is dated. It needs to be read and an anthropological viewpoint. There are racial and cultural references throughout the book that were in common use in the area in 1940. The language is not politically correct for the 21st century. That makes it a bit hard to read.
Farewell, My Lovely is a classic for its genre. Enjoy.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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