Farewell, My Lovely (Raymond Chandler)
Pub. Date: 1940
Read again? Yes
I've been a fan of Chandler's style since I first read "The Big Sleep" back in 2002. His writing is tight, economical, and about as sharp and subtle as a knife in the ribs.
Philip Marlowe is the smart-ass I've always wished I could be. It's one thing to be sarcastic; anyone can be sarcastic, but unlike me, Marlowe isn't afraid of getting his ass whipped when he cracks wise to a 6-foot-five-inch, 280-pound crowd-pleaser named Moose.
This isn't a book for the easily-offended. If you're one of those folks who tiptoes around racial issues and wants "Huckleberry Finn" banned because of a certain word, you'd best tiptoe along, because Marlowe's world isn't rose-colored, and you might get your feelings hurt. This book will slap you--and if you're gonna read it, you'll take the slap and like it.
Marlowe starts out looking for a barber who's gone missing. Somehow he ends up in front of a club, looking at Moose Malloy--and then he's in the club (Blacks-only) pretty much against his will (Moose was very persuasive). Moose wants to know where his girl is. Hasn't seen her in 8 years. Used to work in this club. He doesn't like the answer the bouncer gives. He doesn't like the answer the bartender gives. He really doesn't like the answer the club owner gives, so now it's murder.
The cops drag their feet going after Moose--it's only a "shine killing," as they put it. The press doesn't make a fuss, either--just a shine killing. Marlowe himself isn't overwrought about a dead black man, but that could just be Marlowe being Marlowe.
This being a detective story, the killing doesn’t end with one black man. Pretty soon there’s a rich guy who hired Marlowe to help him recover a stolen necklace, only to get his head ventilated. Then there’s a dead old lady who knew a few things and had to be silenced.
There’s the rich dame who has it all and wants more, the feisty redhead who doesn’t have much and wants Marlowe, the clean cops who have some leads and want Marlowe to stay out of the way, and the crooked cops who have some lead and want to give Marlowe a share.