The Long Goodbye (novel)

The Long Goodbye (novel)

infobox Book |
name = The Long Good-bye
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = First edition cover
author = Raymond Chandler
cover_artist =
country =
language = English
series = Philip Marlowe
genre = Detective, Crime, Novel
publisher = Hamish Hamilton
release_date = 1953
media_type = Print (Hardback)
pages = 320 pp
isbn = NA
preceded_by = The Little Sister
followed_by = Playback

"The Long Goodbye" (ISBN 0-394-75768-8) is a 1953 novel by Raymond Chandler, centered on his famous detective Philip Marlowe. While some consider it not on the level of "The Big Sleep" or "Farewell, My Lovely", others rank it as the best of his work. [ [ April 25, 1954 review of "The Long Goodbye" in the New York Times] ] It is notable for using hard-boiled detective fiction as a vehicle for social criticism. It is also known for having autobiographical elements that relate to Chandler's life. In 1955, "The Long Goodbye" received the Edgar Award for Best Novel.

Plot summary

The novel opens outside a club called The Dancers. Marlowe, whom we presumably know from previous novels, meets a drunk named Terry Lennox, a man with scars on one side of his face. They forge an uneasy friendship over the next few months. Everything changes when Lennox shows up late one night at Marlowe's place, asking for a ride to the Tijuana airport. Marlowe agrees as long as Lennox doesn't tell him any details of why he's running.

On his return to LA, Marlowe is arrested on suspicion of murder, after having annoyed the police investigating the case with his refusal to cooperate, as an attempt to force him to reveal that he helped Lennox. It is revealed that Lennox's wife was found dead in her pool house, and that she had died before Lennox fled. After three days of antagonizing his interrogators, Marlowe is released when Lennox is (allegedly) found dead of a suicide in Otatoclan with a full written confession by his side. Marlowe gets home to find a cryptic note from Lennox containing a "portrait of Madison" (a $5000 bill).

publisher named Howard Spencer, asking him to investigate a case. One of his best writers, Roger Wade, has a drinking problem and has been missing for three days. Initially Marlowe refuses, but after Wade's wife, Eileen, also asks for Marlowe's help, he consents. Marlowe ends up finding Wade in a makeshift detox facility in a soon-to-be-abandoned ranch out in the desert. He takes his fee, but the Wades' stories don't match.

The Wades each try to convince Marlowe to stay at their house to keep Roger writing instead of drinking, and though he refuses, he ends up making further trips to the Wades' house at their behest. On one such trip, he finds Wade passed out in the grass with a cut on his head. Later, Roger tries half-heartedly to kill himself, but lets his wife take the gun from him. Mrs. Wade ends up in a sort of trance and attempts to seduce Marlowe, thinking he's a former lover of hers who died ten years earlier in World War II.

As all of this occurs, Marlowe is repeatedly threatened to lay off the Lennox case, first by a Spanish friend of Lennox's named Mendy Menendez, then by Lennox's father-in-law, the police, the Wades' servant (a Chileno named Candy), and Wade's wife. Marlowe also learns that Terry Lennox had previously lived as Paul Marston who was married previously and was probably from England.

Wade calls Marlowe again, asking him to come by to have lunch with him. Wade ends up drinking himself into a stupor, and this time succeeds in killing himself. Mrs. Wade arrives at the house shortly thereafter and accuses Marlowe of killing her husband. Candy initially tries to frame Marlowe, but his claims are undermined in an interrogation.

Marlowe gets a call from Spencer regarding Wade's death and he bullies Spencer into taking him to see Mrs. Wade. Once there, Marlowe grills her on the death of Terry Lennox's wife. Eileen first tries to blame it all on Roger, but Marlowe doesn't buy her story and argues that she killed both Mrs. Lennox and Roger Wade and that Paul Marston (Lennox) was actually her first husband, presumed killed in action off the coast of Norway or by the Gestapo. The next morning, Marlowe gets a call that Eileen Wade killed herself, leaving a confession in a note.

Marlowe still refuses to let the story lie. He's assaulted by Menendez, who ends up arrested in a setup arranged by a fellow hood (and erstwhile cop) named Randy Starr, who served with Menendez and Lennox/Marston during the war. Finally, Marlowe gets a visit from a Mexican man who claims to have been there when Lennox was killed in his hotel room. Marlowe listens to his story, and then says that he didn't buy it, because the Mexican man is none other than a post-cosmetic-surgery Terry Lennox.

Film & television adaptations

For Robert Altman's 1973 big-screen version of the book, see "The Long Goodbye (film)"

This novel was dramatized for television in 1954 on the anthology series "Climax!", with Dick Powell playing Marlowe as he had a decade earlier in the film "Murder, My Sweet". This live telecast is notorious for actor Tris Coffin, playing a character who had just been killed and thinking himself out of camera range, standing up and walking away in view of the entire home audience.

External links

* [ Writing The Long Goodbye]
* [ One Book, One Chicago: The Long Goodbye]


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