Some years after reading Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely, I thought it was about time I read his other most famous novel, The Long Goodbye. I had fond memories of the ‘reworking’ of the story in Robert Altman's 1973 film starring Elliott Gould and wondered how Chandler’s style would stack up against some of the modern crime writers I’d been reading in the last few years.
The Long Goodbye shows Philip Marlowe becoming involved in what appears to be two separate cases but which wind up being connected. The first is his growing friendship with Terry Lennox, who turns out, it seems, to be the murderer of his rich socialite wife. After the friendship ends with Marlowe driving Lennox to Mexico to escape a possible charge of murder, the second storyline picks up: Marlowe is hired by Eileen Wade, the wife of famous novelist Roger Wade, to find her husband, who is a drunk and has either gone off on a bender or is drying out somewhere in a sanatorium. These two plot-lines converge in more violence in which Marlowe is implicated but doesn’t participate.