I might be alone here, or I might be the victim of a weird physical ailment (I’ll explain in a bit), but I don’t think I liked this one very much. This is Raymond Chandler’s next to last novel, and it’s somewhere around 100 pages longer than any of his previous works. It’s famous among other things for giving the world a solid recipe for a gimlet (2 oz of gin, 2 oz of Rose’s Lime juice, sometimes bitters). It’s also the basis for a weirdo Robert Altman version from the 1970s with Elliot Gould as Marlowe. I think I’ve that one or maybe watched chunks of it on TBS or something.
Anyway, the story involves Marlowe first meeting a man named Terry Lennox years previous to the main story, a drunk who Marlowe helps and befriends. Years later, Terry Lennox’s wife is murdered and either Lennox murdered her and then killed himself, or murdered and ran off, or didn’t murder her and died, or didn’t murder her and ran off. Marlowe is trying to investigate that case as he gets pulled into another case involving a drunk writer who misses deadlines. Marlowe’s job is to help keep him on task. Turns out the cases are linked, obviously.
So for me, two things are happening here that I feel like I was less sold on this one. I think that it feels bloated as a novel. There’s probably too much going on, and there’s a few scenes as things are getting hashed out where there’s just too many moving parts and it feels like an unbalanced flywheel jerking the machine left and right. The writing is the second issue here. I think there’s many times where there’s too much “Marlowe” in the writing, and not enough writing in the writing. What this has the effect of is sentences feeling too handled. It’s heard to explain and I don’t quite feel like finding the few examples I held in my head as I read.
But like I said, I might have been cursed on this one. I grabbed a copy of this one from the Little Free Library and whoever read it marked it up throughout with unfortunately inane comments. It’s fine for anyone to do this and I have plenty of books I’ve marked up, but it made it impossible to read and was very distracting. For example, we don’t need “Lol” all the time in marginalia….and I certainly didn’t need them to tell when “Sarcasm” was happening.