Reviews of Long Good-Bye, the (1953)
Review by mojosmom (2009-03-18)
One of the noir-est of the noir. Philip Marlowe, private detective. Lone wolf, paladin, man of honor. The usual philosophical drunks and women with "mink[s] that almost made the Rolls-Royce look like just another automobile". Crooked cops and crooks with a conscience.
Terry Lennox's very rich, very nymphomaniac wife is found dead, her head bashed in. Lennox takes it on the lam to Mexico, and then is found dead with a bullet in his brain and a confession in front of him. But did he really do it? A lot of people want Marlowe to think so, and not to look into the case. But then he gets dragged into trying to save an alcoholic, best-selling novelist, and, as with any good noir novel, there's a connection.
Also as in any good noir novel, nobody is what they seem or means what they say. Mysteries are "solved", but there are no tidy endings, no real heroes or villains. The atmosphere is all. And there is plenty of that here.
Review by branko (2003-06-03)
This was the first 'Philip Marlowe' I read, and led me to buying others. The second was 'Playback' and only so-so. The third was 'The Lady in the Lake' and at times down-right irritating: if I had bought that one first, I would probably not have bought another.
The funny thing is, Chandler recycles. He is very much a word-smith, and if he stumbles upon a phrase he can use again, he will (or at least remodel it). Also, his writing is very formulaic: his books consist of chapters. His chapters start descriptive ('It was so quiet in Victor's that you almost heard the temparature drop as you came in at the door', move on to action ('I sat down two stools away'), peak at a dramatic high-point ('a man about seven feet high and four feet wide jumped out of it, took one look at Agostino, then one long stride and grabbed him by the throat with one hand') and end with reflection ('In Hollywood anything can happen, anything at all'). You could probably write a computer program to write new Marlowes.
The upshot of this method-writing is that if it works, it works well. In The Long Good-Bye, it worked very well.