So I find that I not-infrequently read books that I just feel rather “meh” about and they don’t seem worth writing an entire post about. However, since I also use this blog as a sort of book-review diary, I like to at least say something. So I’ve started a monthly post with minireviews of all those books that just didn’t get more than a few paragraphs of feelings from me.
Recently, life has felt crazy, so I’m attempting to catch up on some reviews…!!!
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler
This book definitely felt like Chandler had his footing back. While it wasn’t quite as hilarious as the first couple of books, it was way better than The Little Sister, which was downright depressing. In this book, a lot of Marlowe’s snarky narration is back, and there was a nice trick to the mystery. It did at times feel like everyone was a bit too casual with the body count, but you’ll have that.
Kiss the Bride by Melissa McClone, Robin Lee Hatcher, and Kathryn Springer
These three novellas were basically all very average. Each one had some niggling thing that really aggravated me, but overall worked alright. On the whole they were just pretty forgettable.
Playback by Raymond Chandler
This is the final Phillip Marlowe book that Chandler wrote (although he left another incomplete at the time of his death – more on that to come), and fell more along the lines of the earlier couple of books, with a lot of snark and dry humor. The mystery had a good tempo to start and I was completely engaged as Marlowe is hired to follow a mysterious woman. However, this story had 100% more sex than the other books – in other books it’s either been bypassed (woman always seem to want Marlowe more than he wants them) or glossed over, but in this one it felt like Marlowe was having sex every couple of chapters, and it happened with at least three different women. So that felt really weird, and through it all he keeps quietly pining for this woman he met in The Long Goodbye. In the end, the mystery sort of fizzled out, and Marlowe suddenly gets back together with The Long Goodbye woman. All in all, another 3/5 for an interesting read, but not one I’d visit again.
An Unlikely Duet by Lelia M. Silver
This one is a DNF at around halfway, just because it’s become so boring. I really liked the idea of just a straightforward sequel to Pride & Prejudice that focuses on Georgiana. The story starts well, with her meeting a charming young man while visiting Charles and Jane Bingley. However, despite the fact that they talk all the time, the two never really seem to talk. At one point, it seemed to me that he had stated his intentions to court Georgiana pretty clearly to her brother, but then there are misunderstandings and everyone is spirited away and they never get to talk……. the book just never really engaged me and since I haven’t picked it up in a least three weeks, I don’t think it is ever going to.
Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker
When Chandler died, he left four chapters written of his next Marlowe book. In 1989, thirty years after Chandler’s death, Poodle Springs was finished by Robert Parker. Overall, I thought that Parker did a decent job with this book, capturing the essence of Marlowe’s narrative voice and keeping the mystery nice and twisty. The biggest difference to me was that in Chandler’s books, Marlowe is always one step ahead. He may get caught and beaten up, but he still knows what’s what – he may appear to be wandering aimlessly, but in the end we find out exactly what he was up to. But in Poodle Springs, it kind of felt Marlowe really was wandering aimlessly, always a few steps behind what’s going on. In multiple places he says things like, ‘I wish I knew what was going on; none of this makes any sense.’ So Marlowe felt a lot more like a stooge than an intelligent investigator.
I enjoyed the book, even if I felt like the conclusion to Marlowe’s romance was quite weird and, frankly, illogical (‘We love each other too much to get married’???), and it ranked a solid 3/5 for me.
All in all, I’ve enjoyed my foray into the gritty detective world, but if I ever come back to these books, it will only be to the first four. They were funnier and more engaging than the second half of the series.