To kick off my CBR 9 reviews, a few opening remarks:
- This is my third year participating in CBR. I love it and the community around it. I’m glad to help raise money for ACS to fight cancer, and I strongly encourage everyone to visit this site and click through to Amazon from the links.
- My ratings system is pretty simple. Five stars means I love the book and give copies to people to evangelize how good it is. Three stars means I liked it (I like most books). One star means it is just awful.
Back in November, I reviewed Raymond Chandler’s first detective novel, The Big Sleep. You might be familiar with that story because of the Bogey/Bacall movie. I enjoyed that first book because “I loved the clinking drinks and the rainy stakeouts and the enigmatic women and the lyricism.”
Chandler’s second detective novel, Farewell, My Lovely, was published in 1940, right on the heels of The Big Sleep. It is nearly as fun as the original. Like The Big Sleep, this story centers around a private eye working out of Los Angeles in the 1940s. Philip Marlowe is a hard-boiled former cop with a nose for danger. He is caught in the middle of a statewide conflict between a silver tongued con-man, a saucy enigma of a trophy wife, and some coppers who toe the line between effective and corrupt. The plot is jazzy in nature. Don’t worry about that. It’s not about the plot – it’s about the mood and the language. That’s what Raymond Chandler is best at. His writing is so good that I missed my bus stop in 30 degree weather.
Chandler’s little asides often made me smile or laugh out loud (“I filled a pipe and reached for the packet of paper matches. I lit the pipe carefully. She watched that with approval. Pipe smokers were solid men. She was going to be disappointed in me.”). As in Chandler’s first book, I loved the mood he sets of a sweaty, whiskey-soaked, seedy Los Angeles. In my opinion. the author’s descriptions of settings improved in his second novel. I could see the seedy places he was talking about instead of just feeling them. However, that could be just because I’m more used to his writing.
One note – this book was written in 1940 and contains some terms referring to people from all over the world that aren’t acceptable today. Those can be a bit shocking to a reader in 2017.