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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improbable But Impressive Stuff
Raymond Chander's second novel is both more and less successful than his first. THE BIG SLEEP suffered from a plot that fell apart in midstream; FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, however, is much more consistent throughout. On the other hand, for all its twists and turns, THE BIG SLEEP was quite plausible; FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, however, is about as farfetched as you can get. But...
Published on July 30, 2002 by Gary F. Taylor

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Who is this Hemingway person at all?'
The tough-as-nails writing of Raymond Chandler has overtaken mysteries to so great an extent that it's easy to forget his role as a trailblazer. 'Farewell, My Lovely,' just Chandler's second novel, already burns with the rot of Los Angeles that spawned countless other imitations and had a far-reaching effect on both crime fiction and moviemaking over the next thirty-five...
Published on September 23, 2007 by Paul-John Ramos


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64 of 70 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Improbable But Impressive Stuff, July 30, 2002
This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
Raymond Chander's second novel is both more and less successful than his first. THE BIG SLEEP suffered from a plot that fell apart in midstream; FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, however, is much more consistent throughout. On the other hand, for all its twists and turns, THE BIG SLEEP was quite plausible; FAREWELL, MY LOVELY, however, is about as farfetched as you can get. But once again, such criticisms are almost beside the point: the great attraction is still Chandler's knock-you-flat prose, his tone of voice, his often imitated but seldom equaled style, and it is so powerful that it keeps you turning page after page after page.
In general, FAREWELL, MY LOVELY once more finds street-smart and super-savvy California P.I. Philip Marlowe sticking his nose where it has no business being--and when curiosity leads him to follow a massively built white man into a black nightclub he finds himself embroiled in a murder no one cares about solving... at least not until it begins to figure in what seems to be a completely different case with a high-society spin. And encounters with stolen jewels, a spiritualist racket, police corruption, and a gambling ship quickly follow.
Along the way Chandler again paints a gritty portrait of the seamy side of life. On this occasion, he takes a passing look at race, and makes the point that from a police point of view two standards apply: the authorities care nothing about the murder of a black man, but they treat a white man's murder very differently indeed. This portion of the novel is intrinsically controversial, for Chandler uses the slang and racial slurs common to the mean streets of his era--but it is worth noting that although Marlowe uses the same language, his attitude toward the blacks who appear in the novel is considerably different from that of the authorities, who could not care less about the murder of a black man who don't much care who knows it. And once again, Chandler graces his pages with dames and dandies, broads and bums--and he makes them live with remarkable vitality. The famous prose is as rich as ever, although noticeably less witty and quite a bit darker than that found in THE BIG SLEEP. We've stepped off the curb and into the gutter, Chandler seems to be saying, and we're walking in it all the way. Impressive stuff and a very entertaining read.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ...stands out like a tarantula on a slice of angel food, May 14, 2001
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This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
Farewell My Lovely, Raymond Chandler's second novel in the Philip Marlowe series, transcends the genre it helped to create, and is now (deservedly) viewed by many as literature and as social criticism.
Chandler creates moods and telegraphs emotions via the poetic ramblings and outrageous similes from the mind of Philip Marlowe, the protagonist/detective/narrator who is picked up by the collar and dragged into a murder mystery that exposes not only the hypocrisy beneath the surface in the lifestyles of the rich and beautiful, but ultimately, the depravity of the human condition. And all of this is delivered with a caustic sense of humor, a wry wit, and a hypersensitivity to the visual world and it's translation into the language of the mean streets.
Although Chandler died shortly before I was born, I grew up in L.A., and I can say that the L.A. Chandler wrote of is in many ways the city of my childhood memories, so well did he capture the ambiance and ambivalence of the 'city of angels'.
Some have criticized his plotting and plausability, but emotion, action, and detail were what interested him the most, and in these he excelled. FAREWELL MY LOVELY must be viewed within the context of it's era (published in 1940) to be fully appreciated, but the flow of action, the visual aspect of it's language, and the insights into the very human conflict of corruption verses conscience are timeless.
This book, like the first in the Marlowe series (THE BIG SLEEP) was written at the height of Chandler's creative career, and exemplifies the style that has made him a writer's writer, possibly the most imitated author of the past century.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Punching, and shooting, and boozing -- oh my!, July 14, 2003
By 
Andrew McCaffrey (Satellite of Love, Maryland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
Raymond Chandler was such a master at his style of prose that you only have to read the first two paragraphs of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY to know exactly what sort of story you're in for. Those two paragraphs perfectly set up the plot that follows: a thriller crossing in and out of the racial divisions of 1940's Los Angeles involving seedy speakeasies, and off-shore gambling, with double-crossing as far as the eye can see. Wonderfully gritty stuff.
This particular Chandler novel has a lot going for it. The hero, Philip Marlowe, is as entertaining as ever. The setting is the familiar scene of other Chandler stories -- alive, heavy and oppressively Los Angeles. The plot is logical, but jumps around a lot, which is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, the more it moves around, the more room Chandler has to incorporate evil-doings; I quite lost track of exactly how many crimes are committed or alluded to during the course of the book. No matter how farfetched it is, Chandler's prose is utterly gripping and absorbing.
I think Philip Marlowe must drink his weight in cheap liquor several times over during the course of this adventure, but you can't help but like the guy. He punches, he shoots, he boozes. He even solves the case by the end. He sure takes a beating in this one, but he keeps coming back for more. He's everything a pulp detective should be - angry, arrogant, determined, and with just a hint of pathos to make him interesting enough to carry the story.
The book as a whole is just too appealing and entertaining not to be a fun experience. Chandler is pretty much the benchmark for these sorts of stories about guns, police, and corruption, so if you like the genre, you might as well read the man who invented it. Tough guys yelling, "Beat it!" at each other might not be everyone's cup of tea, but Chandler is so good as telling the story that any inadequacies in the conventions of this genre are wallpapered over with some slick dialog and snappy comebacks.
I read FAREWELL, MY LOVELY more for the great atmosphere and tone than for its overall plot. The fact that the storyline wraps up nicely at the end is merely a bonus. But the real way to enjoy this book is to just let the atmosphere, the characters and the prose just wash over you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing The World As It Really Is, December 19, 2007
This review is from: Farewell My Lovely (Paperback)
This is the second Raymond Chandler novel I have read after "The Long Goodbye". I rarely ever read fiction but I can not overemphasize how much I enjoy reading Chandler's novels. These stories are most definitely NOT "page turners" and I mean that as a compliment. A "page turner" leaves the reader in suspense about what is going to happen or what is going to be revealed, often leading me, at least, to superficially scanning much of the prose in order to move ahead more quickly. There is some of this suspense in "Farewell My Lovely" (actually more than in "Goodbye" which spends more time philosophizing) but it is in taking every sentence as it comes, rolling it around in your mouth and savoring the flavor that gives the real pleasure in these novels.
What particularly stands out in this story is the shades of gray of everything. Whereas many detective stories try to fit all the pieces together at the end and show us good guys and bad guys, Chandler's protoganist PI Philip Marlowe sees the world in shades of gray. He doesn't attempt to get to the bottom of people's motivations, and that includes himself. At the beginning of the story, he sees a big white man enter a black nightclub and then sees a black man come flying out the door. For no apparent reason, and admitting that it was none of his business, Marlowe goes in to see what is happening and gets drawn into the mystery. We see people commit murders and yet Marlowe feels that they are not "all bad". Marlowe encounters some policemen who are good, some who are bad and some who are in the middle. In the end, Marlowe figures out more or less what happened, but admits there are holes in his theory, and he can't completely explain why the characters he encountered acted the way they did. This is the way the real world operates and Chandler/Marlowe is telling us to be honest with ourselves and to admit that we often don't know why we do the things we do and whether we are being really consistent.
I find it interesting to note that although this story was written almost 70 years ago, it shows a world that is pretty indistinguishable to our own. The story does not seem "dated". We see the materialist Los Angeles society that I grew up in during the 1960's and 1970's, and the type of people who live on its fringes. The only jarring note I encountered showing the changes in technology since 1940 was when Marlowe mentions he saw an "ice truck" parked on the street. Well, I guess time does move on.
In closing, this novel has one of the most famous Chandler-quotations of them all: "I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat, and a gun."
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost Chandler's best book., July 23, 1998
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This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
Only THE LONG GOODBYE merits higher place in the shining canon of prose-poet Raymond Chandler. This violent, shabby, hilarious, and ultimately very moving novel rockets P.I. Phillips Marlowe through the darkest, seamiest side of Chandler's textured world Los Angeles. In no other novel does Chandler's razor sharp and witty prose slice so sharply, and his sense of tragic irony ("It isn't funny that a man should die, but it is funny that a man should die for so little") reaches its zenith. Hard to put down, impossible to forget.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'Who is this Hemingway person at all?', September 23, 2007
By 
Paul-John Ramos (Yonkers, New York) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
The tough-as-nails writing of Raymond Chandler has overtaken mysteries to so great an extent that it's easy to forget his role as a trailblazer. 'Farewell, My Lovely,' just Chandler's second novel, already burns with the rot of Los Angeles that spawned countless other imitations and had a far-reaching effect on both crime fiction and moviemaking over the next thirty-five years.

'Farewell, My Lovely' is a typically Chandlerian novel, using first person narrative and a slew of characters. Thirtyish private investigator Philip Marlowe starts with a dull case, before he gets pulled onto the scene of a murder at one of Los Angeles's Afro-American bars. The huge, White assailant Moose Malloy has recently left prison and is searching for his lost girlfriend. Marlowe finds himself beside a dead body and a load of curiosity. Helping with police investigations, he enters a labyrinth of the Los Angeles underworld, including crooked cops, hot blondes, swindling psychics, and racketeers.

Chandler's storytelling in the first person narrative of Marlowe is hard-boiled crime before it took on cliché status. The writing style is crude by necessity; found here is the private detective's rough and cynical attitude that influenced later antiheros like Peter Gunn and the noir style that dominated Hollywood movies. Besides several adaptations of Chandler to the big screen, other directors have paid homage, such as Roman Polanski in 'Chinatown' and David Lynch in 'Blue Velvet.'

'Farewell, My Lovely' is a well-constructed novel, but not without flaw. Chandler lets none of the characters go to waste, each holding a pivotal role in Marlowe's detective work. This novel stays consistent with his first project, 'The Big Sleep,' in having Marlowe revisit the same territory of earlier chapters. There is no predictability at all and Chandler creates genuinely tense moments.

Marlowe, however, is steered by chance far too often and there are times when the action seems contrived, or without inevitability. The easy-going narration helps to smoothen over farfetched elements, such as the unlikelihood of Marlowe getting shoved into Moose Malloy's bar brawl, which is needed just to launch the story. The climax is also rather disappointing, taking place in an unimaginative location.

While dealing with the social realities of 1940s California, Chandler's novels still need to be considered as great entertainments rather than full-fledged literature. The novels make generalizations about human life but are mostly driven by plot. It is pulp fiction of the highest rank: well-written, often humorous, and highly dependable. This novel, like others of Chandler, should hold its place in the detective genre for ages to come.

The Chandler novels have been republished in an attractive collection by Black Lizard, the crime subsidiary of Vintage Books. 'Farewell, My Lovely' is 292 pages long, in a nice art deco format. Imperfect but highly entertaining, the novel is a must for crime fiction fans.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most brilliant narrative voices in the annals of literature, November 23, 2008
This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
With the exception of Charles Dickens, has any writer has more influence on narration than Raymond Chandler? Dozens and dozens of writers -- not always crime writers -- have tried to sound like Philip Marlowe. Dozens of movies have featured Philip Marlowe-like narrators, including the theatrical release of BLADE RUNNER, where Rick Deckard sound nothing so much as a 21st Century updating. And perhaps there have been even more parodies. Either way, we all know what detective narrators are supposed to sound like, and we know this because of Raymond Chandler.

Raymond Chandler did not invent hardboiled detective fiction. He essentially took Dashiell Hammett's invention and focused nearly all his attention on prose style, character, and detail. There is an almost tactile quality to many of his stories, to the extent where you feel you could almost reach out and wipe the dust off a desk with your finger. There is, also, an almost wanton disregard of plot. If you read Raymond Chandler for plot, you are misreading him. I'll admit that in several of his novels I'm still unclear what happened. But who cares? The brilliance is in the texture, the detail. Take smell. Read virtually any other detective, crime, mystery, or hardboiled novel and look at how often other writers mention smells and then look at Chandler. He is constantly telling you what places smell like, whether mesquite or sage or sandalwood or whatever. Chandler wrote with heightened senses. I frankly can't get around to caring that his plots aren't very tight because other things absorb all my attention.

FAREWELL, MY LOVELY is one of my favorite Chandler novels, perhaps only behind THE BIG SLEEP and his flawed masterpiece THE LONG GOODBYE. It featured many of his most memorable characters, especially the doomed Moose Malloy, and many of his most unforgettable scenes. Because of Chandler's ability to sketch a scene in such astonishing detail, there are scenes in his books that are as easy to visualize as it is a scene in a movie. He is that vivid and precise in his depiction. A great example is Marlowe's visit to Mrs. Florian in his search for Velma. It would be a person of very poor imagination who didn't get a strong sense of what her house looked like, smelled like, felt like.

This is also one of his best books because it is one of the most tragic. The end of the novel feels almost like the end of Hamlet, with nearly all of the major characters either dead or at least shattered. And like with most of Chandler, there isn't an overly nice resolution of the mystery, whereby the detective magically makes everything nice and tidy and correct. Marlowe gets to the bottom of things, but often what he finds when he gets there is an abyss. And speaking of Chandler's influence, can one imagine the end of Raymond Polanski's CHINATOWN without Marlowe?

As a side note, there have been two very good film versions of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY. The first was made by RKO while Chandler was still alive and was originally released with that title. It tanked at the box office, mainly because it starred former Warner Brothers boy crooner Dick Powell. His style of musical had gone out of style and no one wanted to see what they assumed was a musical. So RKO renamed it MURDER, MY SWEET, which obviously could not be a musical, and re-released it. It was a box office success and was crucial in launching the second half of Dick Powell's career, this time as a serious dramatic actor. Chandler himself was horrified at the casting of Powell as Marlowe, but later proclaimed that he thought Powell was outstanding in the role. By the way, the person that Chandler himself thought would have made the ideal Marlowe was Cary Grant. The second version of FAREWELL, MY LOVELY was released in 1975 with Robert Mitchum as Marlowe. With apologies to Humphrey Bogart, Mitchum is my favorite Marlowe. He was a tad too old for the role, but apart from that he absolutely nailed the cynicism and latent nobility of Marlowe. My only regret is that Mitchum didn't begin making a string of Marlowe films when he was 35. As it was he was too old in his second appearance as Marlowe in a bizarre version of THE BIG SLEEP set, of all places, in London.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reading Chandler for the First Time, August 13, 2014
By 
This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
I have read David Goodis, James Cain, and the two Library of America volumes of American noir from the 1930s -- 1950s, but I have only now read this book, "Farewell, My Lovely" (1940), my first by Raymond Chandler (1888 -- 1959). As do Goodis and Cain, for example, Chandler takes what is often regarded as the formulaic, stereotyped genre of American crime writing and transforms it into literature.

"Farewell, My Lovely" is Chandler's second novel featuring the private investigator Philip Marlowe, who became the model for many similar characters. The book is told in the first person and is set in Los Angeles and its environs. The plot of the novel is coincidence-ridden and somewhat patched together. It moves from a murder in an African American gambling establishment called Florian's to a jewel heist, a psychic, gambling ships, several more murders, and femme fatales. It takes time to get into the plotting and some of the elements appear not to add up.

The plotting is the least important element of this book, but at times it stands in the way. Much of the story gets tied together well at the end and it builds. "Farewell, My Lovely" has many other qualities that make it rewarding. These include Chandler's language, characterizations, sense of place, and view of the human condition, as I describe a little more below.

Marlowe speaks in the tough, hard-boiled style of a crime novel, but he has the poet's eye for detail as much as the gimlet eye of the detective. In particular, he shows a gift for the strikingly appropriate and imaginative metaphor or simile that leaps off almost every page.

Although a detective easily becomes a stock figure, Chandler's Marlowe is a complex person with vulnerabilities and flaws beneath a hard exterior. He is thoughtful as well as hard-drinking. Similarly, virtually every character in this book is well-defined. Chandler finds both good and bad in unlikely places and is attuned to the difficulties of understanding and categorizing any person.

Then, there is the portrayal of Los Angeles. Chandler concentrates of the poor seedy sections but also describes more economically comfortable areas together with suburbs and the water. He offers a sense of place and an eye for detail. He is one of a select group of writers, including Cain, Nathanael West, John Fante, and Charles Bukowski who make Los Angeles come to life.

Finally, Chandler offers a view of the human condition that includes each of these three elements and more and that turn "Farewell, My Lovely" into literature. The novel is sad and pessimistic in its view of life but shows as well understanding. "He's a sinner -- but he's human", one of the characters says to Marlowe late in the book in an observation that applies to the entire story. Individuals try to make their ways among corruption, sleaze, frustration, and sadness; but with toughness and a suggestion of the importance of fighting for the good. There are few heroes and few villains.

Here is a passage from late in the novel that captures the features I have tried to describe. Marlowe is lying in bed in a cheap waterfront hotel and thinks about some of the events and people that have figured in the story up to that point.

"It got darker. I thought; and thought in my mind moved with a kind of sluggish stealthiness, as if it was being watched by bitter and sadistic eyes, I thought of dead eyes looking at a moonless sky, with black blood at the corners of the mouths beneath them. I thought of nasty old women beaten to death against the posts of their dirty beds. I thought of a man with bright blond hair who was afraid and didn't quite know what he was afraid of, who was sensitive enough to know that something was wrong and too vain or too dull to guess what it was that was wrong. I thought of beautiful rich women who could be had. I thought of nice slim curious girls who lived alone and could be had too, in a different way. I thought of cops, tough cops that could be greased and yet were not by any means all bad... Fat prosperous cops with Chamber of Commerce voices.... Slim, smart and deadly cops... who for all their smartness and deadliness were not free to do a clean job in a clean way. I thought of sour old goats ... who had given up trying. I thought of Indians and psychotics and dope doctors." [Names of characters have been deleted from the quote.]

I was glad to get to know Chandler and Philip Marlowe at last through "Farewell, My Lovely". I also learned a great deal from some of the many thoughtful reader reviews of this book here on Amazon.

Robin Friedman
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Amazing Adventures of Philip Marlowe, April 21, 2002
By 
Erin Hubbard (Charlottesville, VA) - See all my reviews
In Raymond Chandler's "Farewell My Lovely" we see the stereotypical detective, sitting in his detective agency, at his desk, looking out of a rain-streaked window, pondering something, something we will probably never figure out. The detective here is Philip Marlowe, Private Investigator, and he is presented with what seems like a simple jewelry theft case. Marlowe, with his wit and charm, instead confronts crooked cops, fraudulent psychiatric hospitals, blackmailers, con men, and beautiful and deadly women. Marlowe jumps, almost literally from situation to situation. Each scenario is highly entertaining, but a little difficult to believe. Either Philip Marlowe manages to fit thirty-four action-packed hours in one day or I don't know what. It's interesting how witty the character of Marlowe is and how unaffected he seems to be by all the events going on around him. Even when he is beat up, drugged, and almost killed, he gets up, and carries on. It is difficult to determine whether or not he does this solely for the money, or if he feels he has a personal investment, or perhaps desires the glorification. Chandler incorporates wonderful descriptions of sunny Los Angeles into his novel as we follow Marlowe around the city chasing after people, details, and a solution. He also uses a great amount of similes and metaphors, comparing everything to some strange seemingly unrelated object. Yet, when it comes down to it, this quintessential detective mystery fulfills all my requirements for a good book and left me guessing up until the end.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting!, October 28, 1998
This review is from: Farewell, My Lovely (Paperback)
From the first paragraph to the last, I was held hostage by Chandler's writing. The action comes at you faster than a bouncer's fist and is just as relentless. This was the first Chandler book I'd read and though I'd heard a lot about his stature as a noir writer, I have to say he did not disappoint in the least. Marlowe is a man's man. He doesn't back down from a challenge, he enjoys the women he likes, dismisses those he dislikes, fights the good fight, and he always tells it like it is!
I worked my way through Hammett, Thompson, Mosley, and others, and now it looks like I'm going to work my way through Chandler.
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Farewell, My Lovely
Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (Paperback - Aug. 1992)
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