Genre: Private Eye, Hard-boiled Detective
Narrative Style: First person, chronological
Synopsis: Moose Malloy is looking for his old love Velma and Marlowe starts to investigate when he is contacted for what seems like a routine case. There would seem to be no link between the two cases but quickly Marlowe finds hostility on all sides and things become a lot more complicated then they seemed.
Reading Challenges: Eclectic Reader Challenge – Genre: PI Crime
I had intentions of reading more Chandler. I read The Big Sleep and really enjoyed it and was thinking it was about time I read the next one so when I saw that one of the genres for this year’s Eclectic Reader Challenge was PI crime, I didn’t hesitate.
There is no easing into the story here. You are dropped straight into Marlowe’s seedy little world. Every detail counts as the story quickly gets quite convoluted and no one is quite who they seem. The pace is lively and it was difficult to put down.
Marlowe really suffers in this story. He is bashed on the head a large number of times as well as being pumped full of all sorts of horrible drugs. He spends a lot of his time with his head spinning and stomach churning. Not that this stops him, you understand. Marlowe is not the sort of man to be laid low by anything. He just has another whisky and carries on. I like the toughness of the characters – not just Marlowe but all the other men and some of the women too. There is no sentimentality here – this is a hard world and it takes hard people to survive. There is no time for feeling sorry for yourself.
What really makes Chandler’s novel sing is the prose. Marlowe is all bruised one liners and smart retorts. I kept imagining Humphrey Bogart growling out some of the lines. Some of the descriptions are just fabulous – ‘The voice of the hot dog merchant split the dusk like an axe’ for example or ‘She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket’. It’s all so sharp and the prose never wavers for one second. There is very little breathing space for the reader who is always fully immersed in the horror of Marlowe’s world.
I didn’t see the ending coming at all. Maybe a sharper reader could have put it together but to be honest, I’m always quite pleased if I haven’t managed to work it out. It was a good ending, one that tied everything together successfully and was completely satisfying. I will certainly be reading the next one.
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