I filled ink in my pen and found it fascinating to watch the shine as it dried. Therefore, I wrote the entire review by hand (including these first two sentences) before typing them out on the blog!
I picked these books out of order. On one trip to the library, I found the second book when on the lookout for any English Language detective book written in the 1950s range. The ratings seemed pretty good, so I decided to give it a shot. As with most things, I started to see the author mentioned everywhere after I had picked it up. There were obscure references in other books, online articles, places I am sure I would not register either the author or the name of the book unless I have prior knowledge of them. You make a new acquaintance and then start seeing them everywhere you look. This happens a lot to me, does this happen to you too?
Anyway, long story short, I read the second before the first, but I am reviewing it in the sane order of the first followed by the second.
I liked the introduction that came with the Penguin paperback version. Had I read this first, I might have exhibited more patience when reading the author’s books. I would not have gotten distracted as easily when things started to get weird.
Philip Marlowe is a Private Investigator, he has his own dark shadows, but he tries to do a good job. He is conscientious in his own way and has his own moral codes. He is grey enough to take kisses offered to him but stops things going too far (again, not exactly a likeable man but not a despicable one)
In the first book, he ends up in a crazy situation when he answers a rich man’s summons. The rich old man wants him to investigate something amounting to petty blackmail. His arrival in the house brings the crazy daughters of the house out of the woodwork. Each is kooky in their own way and involved in salacious issues of their own. This further spirals into a non-stop chaotic line up of bodies, bullets and more revelations than the original request called for.
Hidden beneath the veneer of the people introduced to us, people who swear without actual swearing in the text (something I liked), had more vices than can be counted on one hand, is a good plot.
People are not held up to any high standards of morality, the cynicism of the author seems to bleed into the pages. (This is where the intro helped me make sense of why that might be so).
I found it a surprisingly good, quick read and felt invested in Philip’s exploits throughout.
The second case that we meet Philip Marlowe in is when he is looking for a missing person. He finds himself in a mixed neighbourhood (which leads to a pretty good look at how things must have been for ‘coloured’ business owners at the time). While he wanders, he meets a BIG man. This man is looking for someone he knew from before he went to prison. He is also deaf to reason and ends up leaving a lot of chaos in his wake.
Marlowe is but a witness, although the events get him involved in a very convoluted plot. A lot of individual circumstances all tie back to the start point without being too convenient. There is also obviously a dangerous, beautiful woman involved (actually, two).
Fast drinking, driving and killing soon make its way into the tale and are strewn across the narrative. When the train of thought is described at the end, it is hard to disagree with the way things turned out. I had trouble getting into it when I first started it because of how the story was being presented. I almost gave up after a chapter or so, but slowly with time, I got the hang of the storytelling style and liked the end result!