Farewell, My Lovely

Farewell, My Lovely

by Raymond Chandler

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780394758275
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/28/1988
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 73,462
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.97(h) x 0.61(d)

About the Author

Raymond Thornton Chandler (1888 - 1959) was the master practitioner of American hard-boiled crime fiction. Although he was born in Chicago, Chandler spent most of his boyhood and youth in England where he attended Dulwich College and later worked as a freelance journalist for The Westminster Gazette and The Spectator. During World War I, Chandler served in France with the First Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, transferring later to the Royal Flying Corps (R. A. F.). In 1919 he returned to the United States, settling in California, where he eventually became director of a number of independent oil companies. The Depression put an end to his career, and in 1933, at the age of forty-five, he turned to writing fiction, publishing his first stories in Black Mask. Chandler’s detective stories often starred the brash but honorable Philip Marlowe (introduced in 1939 in his first novel, The Big Sleep) and were noted for their literate presentation and dead-on critical eye. Never a prolific writer, Chandler published only one collection of stories and seven novels in his lifetime. Some of Chandler’s novels, like The Big Sleep, were made into classic movies which helped define the film noir style. In the last year of his life he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died in La Jolla, California on March 26, 1959.

Date of Birth:

July 23, 1888

Date of Death:

March 26, 1959

Place of Birth:

Chicago Illinois

Place of Death:

La Jolla, California

Education:

Educated in England, France, and Germany

Read an Excerpt

ONE

It was one of the mixed blocks over on Central Avenue, the blocks that are not yet all Negro. I had just come out of a three-chair barber shop where an agency thought a relief barber named Dimitrios Aleidis might be working. It was a small matter. His wife said she was willing to spend a little money to have him come home.

I never found him, but Mrs. Aleidis never paid me any money either.

It was a warm day, almost the end of March, and I stood outside the barber shop looking up at the jutting neon sign of a second floor dine and dice emporium called Florian's. A man was looking up at the sign too. He was looking up at the dusty windows with a sort of ecstatic fixity of expression, like a hunky immigrant catching his first sight of the Statue of Liberty. He was a big man but not more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck. He was about ten feet away from me. His arms hung loose at his sides and a forgotten cigar smoked behind his enormous fingers.

Slim quiet Negroes passed up and down the street and stared at him with darting side glances. He was worth looking at. He wore a shaggy borsalino hat, a rough gray sports coat with white golf balls on it for buttons, a brown shirt, a yellow tie, pleated gray flannel slacks and alligator shoes with white explosions on the toes. From his outer breast pocket cascaded a show handkerchief of the same brilliant yellow as his tie. There were a couple of colored feathers tucked into the band of his hat, but he didn't really need them. Even on Central Avenue, not the quietest dressed street in the world, he looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.

His skin was pale and he needed a shave. He would always need a shave. He had curly black hair and heavy eyebrows that almost met over his thick nose. His ears were small and neat for a man of that size and his eyes had a shine close to tears that gray eyes often seem to have. He stood like a statue, and after a long time he smiled.

He moved slowly across the sidewalk to the double swinging doors which shut off the stairs to the second floor. He pushed them open, cast a cool expressionless glance up and down the street, and moved inside. If he had been a smaller man and more quietly dressed, I might have thought he was going to pull a stick-up. But not in those clothes, and not with that hat, and that frame.

The doors swung back outwards and almost settled to a stop. Before they had entirely stopped moving they opened again, violently, outwards. Something sailed across the sidewalk and landed in the gutter between two parked cars. It landed on its hands and knees and made a high keening noise like a cornered rat. It got up slowly, retrieved a hat and stepped back onto the sidewalk. It was a thin, narrow-shouldered brown youth in a lilac colored suit and a carnation. It had slick black hair. It kept its mouth open and whined for a moment. People stared at it vaguely. Then it settled its hat jauntily, sidled over to the wall and walked silently splay-footed off along the block.

Silence. Traffic resumed. I walked along to the double doors and stood in front of them. They were motionless now. It wasn't any of my business. So I pushed them open and looked in.

A hand I could have sat in came out of the dimness and took hold of my shoulder and squashed it to a pulp. Then the hand moved me through the doors and casually lifted me up a step. The large face looked at me. A deep soft voice said to me, quietly:

"Smokes in here, huh? Tie that for me, pal."

It was dark in there. It was quiet. From up above came vague sounds of humanity, but we were alone on the stairs. The big man stared at me solemnly and went on wrecking my shoulder with his hand.

"A dinge," he said. "I just thrown him out. You seen me throw him out?"

He let go of my shoulder. The bone didn't seem to be broken, but the arm was numb.

"It's that kind of a place," I said, rubbing my shoulder. "What did you expect?"

"Don't say that, pal," the big man purred softly, like four tigers after dinner. "Velma used to work here. Little Velma."

He reached for my shoulder again. I tried to dodge him but he was as fast as a cat. He began to chew my muscles up some more with his iron fingers.

"Yeah," he said. "Little Velma. I ain't seen her in eight years. You say this here is a dinge joint?"

I croaked that it was.

He lifted me up two more steps. I wrenched myself loose and tried for a little elbow room. I wasn't wearing a gun. Looking for Dimitrios Aleidis hadn't seemed to require it. I doubted if it would do me any good. The big man would probably take it away from me and eat it.

"Go on up and see for yourself," I said, trying to keep the agony out of my voice.

He let go of me again. He looked at me with a sort of sadness in his gray eyes. "I'm feelin' good," he said. "I wouldn't want anybody to fuss with me. Let's you and me go on up and maybe nibble a couple."

"They won't serve you. I told you it's a colored joint."

"I ain't seen Velma in eight years," he said in his deep sad voice. "Eight long years since I said good-by. She ain't wrote to me in six. But she'll have a reason. She used to work here. Cute she was. Let's you and me go on up, huh?"

"All right," I yelled. "I'll go up with you. Just lay off carrying me. Let me walk. I'm fine. I'm all grown up. I go to the bathroom alone and everything. Just don't carry me."

"Little Velma used to work here," he said gently. He wasn't listening to me.

We went on up the stairs. He let me walk. My shoulder ached. The back of my neck was wet.

TWO

Two more swing doors closed off the head of the stairs from whatever was beyond. The big man pushed them open lightly with his thumbs and we went into the room. It was a long narrow room, not very clean, not very bright, not very cheerful. In the corner a group of Negroes chanted and chattered in the cone of light over a crap table. There was a bar against the right hand wall. The rest of the room was mostly small round tables. There were a few customers, men and women, all Negroes.

The chanting at the crap table stopped dead and the light over it jerked out. There was a sudden silence as heavy as a water-logged boat. Eyes looked at us, chestnut colored eyes, set in faces that ranged from gray to deep black. Heads turned slowly and the eyes in them glistened and stared in the dead alien silence of another race.

A large, thick-necked Negro was leaning against the end of the bar with pink garters on his shirt sleeves and pink and white suspenders crossing his broad back. He had bouncer written all over him. He put his lifted foot down slowly and turned slowly and stared at us, spreading his feet gently and moving a broad tongue along his lips. He had a battered face that looked as if it had been hit by everything but the bucket of a dragline. It was scarred, flattened, thickened, checkered, and welted. It was a face that had nothing to fear. Everything had been done to it that anybody could think of.

The short crinkled hair had a touch of gray. One ear had lost the lobe.

The Negro was heavy and wide. He had big heavy legs and they looked a little bowed, which is unusual in a Negro. He moved his tongue some more and smiled and moved his body. He came towards us in a loose fighter's crouch. The big man waited for him silently.

The Negro with the pink garters on his arms put a massive brown hand against the big man's chest. Large as it was, the hand looked like a stud. The big man didn't move. The bouncer smiled gently.

"No white folks, brother. Jes' fo' the colored people. I'se sorry."

The big man moved his small sad gray eyes and looked around the room. His cheeks flushed a little. "Shine box," he said angrily, under his breath. He raised his voice. "Where's Velma at?" he asked the bouncer.

The bouncer didn't quite laugh. He studied the big man's clothes, his brown shirt and yellow tie, his rough gray coat and the white golf balls on it. He moved his thick head around delicately and studied all this from various angles. He looked down at the alligator shoes. He chuckled lightly. He seemed amused. I felt a little sorry for him. He spoke softly again.

"Velma, you says? No Velma heah, brother. No hooch, no gals, no nothing. Jes' the scram, white boy, jes' the scram."

"Velma used to work here," the big man said. He spoke almost dreamily, as if he was all by himself, out in the woods, picking johnny-jump-ups. I got my handkerchief out and wiped the back of my neck again.

The bouncer laughed suddenly. "Shuah," he said, throwing a quick look back over his shoulder at his public. "Velma used to work heah. But Velma don't work heah no mo'. She done reti'ed. Haw, haw."

"Kind of take your goddamned mitt off my shirt," the big man said.

The bouncer frowned. He was not used to being talked to like that. He took his hand off the shirt and doubled it into a fist about the size and color of a large eggplant. He had his job, his reputation for toughness, his public esteem to consider. He considered them for a second and made a mistake. He swung the fist very hard and short with a sudden outward jerk of the elbow and hit the big man on the side of the jaw. A soft sigh went around the room.

It was a good punch. The shoulder dropped and the body swung behind it. There was a lot of weight in that punch and the man who landed it had had plenty of practice. The big man didn't move his head more than an inch. He didn't try to block the punch. He took it, shook himself lightly, made a quiet sound in his throat and took hold of the bouncer by the throat.

The bouncer tried to knee him in the groin. The big man turned him in the air and slid his gaudy shoes apart on the scaly linoleum that covered the floor. He bent the bouncer backwards and shifted his right hand to the bouncer's belt. The belt broke like a piece of butcher's string. The big man put his enormous hands flat against the bouncer's spine and heaved. He threw him clear across the room, spinning and staggering and flailing with his arms. Three men jumped out of the way. The bouncer went over with a table and smacked into the baseboard with a crash that must have been heard in Denver. His legs twitched. Then he lay still.

"Some guys," the big man said, "has got wrong ideas about when to get tough." He turned to me. "Yeah," he said. "Let's you and me nibble one."

We went over to the bar. The customers, by ones and twos and threes, became quiet shadows that drifted soundless across the floor, soundless through the doors at the head of the stairs. Soundless as shadows on the grass. They didn't even let the doors swing.

We leaned against the bar. "Whiskey sour," the big man said. "Call yours."

"Whiskey sour," I said.

We had whiskey sours.

The big man licked his whiskey sour impassively down the side of the thick squat glass. He stared solemnly at the barman, a thin, worried-looking Negro in a white coat who moved as if his feet hurt him.

"You know where Velma is?"

"Velma, you says?" the barman whined. "I ain't seen her 'round heah lately. Not right lately, nossuh."

"How long you been here?"

"Let's see," the barman put his towel down and wrinkled his forehead and started to count on his fingers. "'Bout ten months, I reckon. 'Bout a yeah. 'Bout—"

"Make your mind up," the big man said.

The barman goggled and his Adam's apple flopped around like a headless chicken.

"How long's this coop been a dinge joint?" the big man demanded gruffly.

"Says which?"

The big man made a fist into which his whiskey sour glass melted almost out of sight.

"Five years anyway," I said. "This fellow wouldn't know anything about a white girl named Velma. Nobody here would."

The big man looked at me as if I had just hatched out. His whiskey sour hadn't seemed to improve his temper.

"Who the hell asked you to stick your face in?" he asked me.

I smiled. I made it a big warm friendly smile. "I'm the fellow that came in with you. Remember?"

He grinned back then, a flat white grin without meaning. "Whiskey sour," he told the barman. "Shake them fleas outa your pants. Service."

The barman scuttled around, rolling the whites of his eyes. I put my back against the bar and looked at the room. It was now empty, save for the barman, the big man and myself, and the bouncer crushed over against the wall. The bouncer was moving. He was moving slowly as if with great pain and effort. He was crawling softly along the baseboard like a fly with one wing. He was moving behind the tables, wearily, a man suddenly old, suddenly disillusioned. I watched him move. The barman put down two more whiskey sours. I turned to the bar. The big man glanced casually over at the crawling bouncer and then paid no further attention to him.

"There ain't nothing left of the joint," he complained. "They was a little stage and band and cute little rooms where a guy could have fun. Velma did some warbling. A redhead she was. Cute as lace pants. We was to of been married when they hung the frame on me."

I took my second whiskey sour. I was beginning to have enough of the adventure. "What frame?" I asked.

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Erle Stanley Gardner

Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude.

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Farewell My Lovely 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having read most of Raymond Chandler's books numerous times since I'm a huge fan of his style of writing and the way he artfully unfolds his plots. I have to say that Farewell, My Lovely is my favorite. The characters, the plot and Marlowe are at their best and it's fun going along for the twists and turns of the ride it takes you on.
Coriolana More than 1 year ago
No one wrote like Raymond Chandler. No one did it better. Even Hammett couldn't match Chandler's elegant turns of phrase and his ability to weave plot points together and somehow create a hard-boiled journey of the soul without ever descending into bathos. This should be required reading for American Literature along with The Big Sleep. Alas, there are a lot of pseudo-scholars who turn their noses up at Chandler, Hammett and the rest of the hard-boiled genre, which only makes them look like the class clowns. This is a classic.
McCarthy92 More than 1 year ago
I'm kind of new to Raymond Chandler, this being the second book of his that I read (I plan to read all of his works in order, he's an excellent writer). And I have to say, I liked Farewell, My Lovely more than The Big Sleep. Not that The Big Sleep was bad, but having known Marlowe, I really enjoyed it the second time through. I always loved the hard-boiled dialogue and prose of the early 20th century and Chandler doesn't hold back at any time. Great characters, great mystery, and so much humor.
adithyajones on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An excellent hardboiled,whodunit stuff, but what stands apart is Chandler's sharp descriptions of the characters and the environment.
krbrancolini on LibraryThing 8 months ago
"Farewell, My Lovely" is the second book in Raymond Chander's Philip Marlowe series. Published just a year after "The Big Sleep," this book features a more complex plot, which Chandler handles well for the most part. Unfortunately, the book abounds with red herrings and irrelevant subplots. Oddly, the 1976 movie with Robert Mitchum eliminated some of the subplots and minor characters, but added others -- while adding nothing to the clarity of the plot. True confession: I love books set in Los Angeles in the 1930s, and besides, it's classic Raymond Chanlder! Once again Marlowe reveals his spectacularly bad judgement in women. One of my favorite lines in the book addresses this in Chapter 29:Marlowe: "She's a nice girl. Not my type."Lt. Randall: "You don't like them nice?"Marlowe: "I like smooth shiny girls, hardboiled and loaded with sin." Of course, Marlowe and Chandler had a lot in common in this regard. This becomes clear in "The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved," which is an excellent portrait of Chandler and his complicated marriage to a women 18 years older than he was. I found my attention drifting sometimes, but Chandler's writing style kept me reading. The book is filled with a cast of unsympathetic character. As the bodies piled up, no one in the book seemed to care and I confess, I felt the same way. I was just lost in the language and descriptions. In describing a house where Marlowe is imprisoned and drugged for a time -- which turned out to be a quasi clinic and hideout for "hot boys" ('30s slang for fugitives) -- Chandler exactly captures the nastiness beneath the sparkling surface (Chapter 33):"There was a bed of winter sweet peas and a bronze-green humming bird podding in them delicately. The house looked like the home of a well-to-do elderly couple who like to garden. The late afternoon sun on it had a hushed and menacing stillness." As the novel nears its denoument, Chandler sets increasingly dark and dangerous scenes. There's a long drawn out scene on a gambling boat off-shore that went on and on, but I still wanted to know what happened. Honestly, with another author I would have been frustrated, but it's Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe. It's the journey not the destination.
mcc89 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Beautifully written, perhaps the most 'well-written' of Chandler's mysteries though I still believe it pales in comparison to the giant 'The Long Goodbye'.
arttraveller on LibraryThing 8 months ago
In this book, the second novel featuring PI Philip Marlowe, we meet Marlowe as he tries to trace the whereabouts of a young woman. His search will take him on a journey through the bars and saloons of Hollywood into high society and the corridors of power.It's a simple story, well told, and even though it didn't quite match the Big Sleep, it's an enjoyable book from the master of crime ficton.
mrtall on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This story starts off with bang, as the unforgettable Moose Malloy turns a juke joint upside down and inside out looking for his lost love. Marlowe, as usual, is sucked into a sordid mess that's far bigger and nastier than even the biggest and nastiest gangster around. So is Farewell, My Lovely the pinnacle of the great Raymond Chandler's work, or is it just another exceptional noir featuring a tough-talking but good hearted private eye, a couple of dazzling femme fatales, a whole gallery of vivid bad guys, and lots of hard-hitting action? What does it matter, really? Chandler's work sits at the peak of 20th-century American fiction, jostling for the summit with Faulkner and the other biggest of the big dogs.I can't recommend Chandler highly enough.
marek2009 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I thought this was even better than 'The Big Sleep', although it perhaps deviates slightly from the classic formula, with odd excursions involving a fraudulent psychic, and a weird episode where Marlowe is 'doped' with heroin & thinks he's developed the DTs. It plot is complex but clear & ends with a fitting bang.
BruderBane on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was my second Raymond Chandler novel and although it won¿t be my last, this novel ¿Farewell, My Lovely¿ didn¿t quite catch me as his previous initial novel ¿The Big Sleep¿ had. Oh there was mystery, thrills and violence galore coupled with blowsy dames, femme-fatales, gangsters and a host truly bizarre characters. On the other hand, the plot came across a bit muddy and messy at times. Perhaps the idiomatic language was just too hip -circa 1940¿s- for me to comprehend properly. But don¿t get me wrong, it was a solid book and a pleasant read. I especially enjoyed the use of the phrase hard-boiled on a number of occasions; I haven¿t seen that phrase used in a classic hard-boiled novel until now.
Joybee on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Another great Chandler book. This one, Chandler's second novel, had a fast paced, very deep and violent story. However, I did not find this as cynical as his first novel, it's still cynical, but I liked 'The Big Sleep' more because it was over the top cynical. This book has more of a plot driven story, which is very good, but I found hard to follow in the beginning. It starts out slow and somewhat confusing but everything ties together and makes a great page turner.Marlowe is present when a negro club owner is murdered by a behemoth man who just got out of prison and is looking for his old girlfriend. The lazy cop assigned to the case wants to pawn it off on Marlowe but Marlowe doesn't want it. Then Marlowe gets a job from a mysterious man trying to recover a lady friend's jewels that were taken during a hold up. This job leaves Marlowe knocked out and another man dead. As Marlowe tries to unravel the mystery he meets, racketeers, dirty cops, murderers, lairs, and some honest people. Every thing ends up tying together and is one great story.
timeenuf on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book initially frustrated me, and I wasn¿t sure I was going to enjoy it. But after I finished it, I realized that this novel is an ideal mystery story. By that, I mean that it opens innocently enough, with Marlowe running into a hulk of a man named Moose Malloy, who happens to be searching for a former sweetheart named Little Velma. He just happens to be searching for her in the dive where she used to be a singer, however, and that¿s where the problems start. The current employees and owner of the establishment are none too happy about Moose poking around there. Moose ends up killing the owner of the bar in a back room, and thus Marlowe gets sucked into the story, even though he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.Moose vanishes and Marlowe begins to look for Velma, trying to track down the source of this mystery. Inevitably, of course, his questions lead to further questions, jewelry heists, gigolos, loose women, marijuana, a psychic who of course is not all he seems to be, more thugs than you can shake a stick at, crooked policemen, and murder. Even though it was initially frustrating because of the disjointed way things seemed to be developing, I think this story is the best kind of mystery story: the reader encounters a series of events that seem totally unconnected and don¿t make very much (or any) sense, and the author manages to keep his audience off balance for a very long time until things start to be pieced together.Even though Chandler finally pieces the puzzle together in a highly satisfactory way, one doesn¿t read him merely for the story itself. His method of storytelling, along with his turns of phrase and imagery are as equally compelling as the plot itself. Bu keep in mind a caveat: this novel was published in 1940, and what was socially acceptable then makes the reader of today cringe at least a little bit (and sometimes a lot). I won¿t go into all of the references that Chandler throws in ¿ and yes, I know that this is not a story about a Sunday School picnic on the fourth of July ¿ but the undercurrent of racism in this story is a sad reminder of where this country once was ¿ and by some accounts, is headed again. There¿s also quite a bit of rough language, but it¿s not that much by our modern-day standards (you can hear just as rough language watching prime-time TV these days), although I am sure it was eye-opening and risky in Chandler¿s day.All in all, this was a rewarding read, and whetted my appetite to read more Chandler.
comfypants on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Philip Marlowe, wise-crackin' like nobody's business - even when there's nobody around to hear him. The plot's a lot sloppier than I expect from a mystery; mostly it's just there for the sake of giving Marlowe a hard time.
Quickpint on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I'm a massive, enormous, gigantic Chandler fan, but after many re-reads of his book, I think this may be my least favourite. Oddly, it was the author's favourite, at least according to one interview. Terrific plot resolution at the end, but I don't know, something missing here for me... I just don't think the prose is as consistently good as in the other Marlowe novels. Sometimes, only once or twice, I think Chandler even tries a wisecrack and misses completely. Also the Shakespeare references, together with the Hemingway take-down, make him look a little insecure as a writer. Difficult second novel? Maybe. I'm not totally convinced by Marlowe's apparent reluctance to begin a happy relationship with Anne Riordan either. Still a better book than most crime writers have ever written.
alexrichman on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A far more cartoony tale when compared with The Big Sleep, most characters aren't very convincing and the action drags in parts. Nevertheless, Marlowe remains eminently readable.
reading_fox on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Not really standing the test of time, the interest, like the first in the series, is more about the insights to 1940s US then anything in the story itself.Segregation in society is still rife. Marlowe finds himself helping a white giant of a man look for a waitress he was sweet on before he spent some time in jail. Meanwhile Marlow goes looking for paying work, and finds a rich client who's involved in a clever blackmail scheme involving bored housewive's jewellery. Somehow a flirty young thing also gets involved. I've no idea how or why some girl would be driving about on her own in the 40s, but there you go. The whole plot ends up depending on the chance timing of someone visiting Marlowe at the same time as another caller - this rather tedious plot device spoils any interest there may have been in the "mystery".Marlowe certainly retains his various gritty edges, and drinking issues. His one-liners consistently fail to be funny, and for no reason other than maybe insecurity he is persistently rude to all the women he comes across. Despite this he also has the required basic sense of honesty and decentness that enables any detective to function within society.Certainly readable, but more for historical interest in the society of the times, and the areas from which current detetctive literature grew, there is nothing particularly special about it otherwise.
JustAGirl on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Raymond Chandler is the greatest of all crime writers and this is one of his best books. The plots don't always make sense and his women are all two-dimensional harpies, but you just can't beat the writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is amazing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Phillip Marlowe at His Best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pod49 More than 1 year ago
Tough guy, hot woman that might leave you with a bullet lodged in your back, lies and double dealing all served up on a corrupt California landscape. Nasty guys and girls always get it in the end in a pulp fiction novel. Usually it is when you think they will get away with it. R Hemingway
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