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Poodle Springs (1989)
My apologies in advance, but this is an "on the one hand/on the other hand" review. On the one hand, for anyone who loves Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe, as I do, it is great to have a new story featuring the "Galahad of the Gutter", even if Chandler only wrote the first three chapters. And Robert B. Parker ( of Spenser fame) does a competent job of completing the story.
On the other hand, despite the exception of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, I think that the modern trend of giving private eyes buddies and girlfriends has been a catastrophic development for the hard boiled novel. The very essence of these novels, epitomized in The Maltese Falcon, Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer series and the other Philip Marlowe stories, is the independence and accompanying vulnerability of the detectives. So this Marlowe story, which finds him married to a wealthy heiress and comfortably ensconced in Poodle Springs (a thinly veiled Pal Springs), is disappointing evidence that even a master of the genre was drifting in this direction when he died.
The mystery here is vintage Chandler, with blackmail, pornography, polygamy and the like and when the focus turns to Marlowe working on the case it is quite good. But the scenes between him and his wife, particularly the tensions between them as a result of his insistence on a return to detecting, bring the story to a screeching halt every time it builds up a head of steam.
The result is a very mixed bag and an extremely tentative recommendation--an airplane book.
-ESSAY: Why Marlowe is still the chief of detectives: Fifty years after Raymond Chandler died, we need his ‘shop-soiled’ Galahad Philip Marlowe as much as ever to put our mixed-up world to rights. (Mick Hume, 12/30/09, Spiked Review of Books)
Book-related and General Links:
-DISCUSSION GROUP: Re: RARA-AVIS: Hard-Boiled vs Noir & Poodle Springs
-ESSAY: Stalking Raymond Chandler's Spirit By TOM STOPPARD
-Crime Writers (David King)
-Philip Marlowe Created by Raymond Chandler (Thrilling Detective)
-Shamus: A Tribute to Philip Marlowe
-Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler (from Shamus)
-BIBLIO: Robert B. Parker
-Robert B. Parker (Mostly Fiction)
-ROBERT B. PARKER (Stop, You're Killing Me!)
-Robert B. Parker's Complete Bookshelf With Reviews and Reader Comments (Oxford Books)