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review 2017-09-10 19:59
Farewell, My Lovely
Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler,Colin Dexter

I bet this is one door Marlowe is regretting to put his head through. Getting involved with Moose Malloy, who is searching for his girlfriend Velma after having spent the last 8 years in jail, Marlowe gets involved with the mob, jewel-robbers, dangerous thugs and the police and he has to deal with all the problems that these aquantiances carry with them.

 

This was such a compelling read from beginning to end with an intricate plot that left me in awe of Chandlers writing skills. Told from the first person perspective of Philip Marlowe, you follow him trough all his hardships and perils. And Marlowe is such a great character, who is always having a snarky reply on his lips and who doesn´t shy away from dangerous situations, either because he has a job to do or because someone has wronged him personally (occasionally he experiences an anxiety attack, which makes him even more likeable).

 

The only thing I have to say is that the dialogues sometimes are hard to read, because some characters use word or slang words that I´m not familiar with. But this doesn´t take much away from my overall enjoyment of Raymond Chandlers novels.

 

I´ve read this book for the Classic Noir square and Farewell, My Lovely oozes noir atmosphere.

 

 

 

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text 2017-09-10 14:19
Reading progress update: I've read 104 out of 306 pages.
Farewell, My Lovely - Raymond Chandler,Colin Dexter

I slit one down the middle. The mouthpiece part was pretty tough to slit. Okey, I was a tough guy, I slit it anyway. See, can you stop me?

 

Raymond Chandlers writing is brilliant and it gets even better, when Marlowe talks to other characters:

 

"Philip Marlowe, Private Investigator. One of those guys, huh? Jesus, you look tough enough. What was you doing all the that time?"

"All what time?"

"All the time this Malloy was twisting the neck of this smoke."

"Oh, that happened in another room," I said. "Malloy hadn´t promised me he was to break anybody´s neck."

"Ride me," Nulty said bitterly. "Okey, go ahead and ride me. Everybody else does. What´s another one matter? Poor old Nulty. Let´s go on up and throw a couple of nifties at him. Always good for a laugh, Nulty is."

"I´m not trying to ride anybody," I said. "That´s the way it happened - in another room."

"Oh, sure," Nulty said through a fan of rank cigar smoke. "I was down there and saw it, didn´t I? Don´t you pack no rod?"

"Not on that kind of job."

"What kind of a job?"

"I was looking for a barber who had run away from his wife. She tought he could be persuaded to come home."

"You mean a dinge?"

"No, a Greek."

"Okey," Nulty said and spit into his waste basket. "Okey. You met the big guy how?"

"I told you already. I just happened to be there. He threw a negro out of the doors of Florian´s and I unwisely poked my head in to see what was happening. So he took me upstairs."

"You mean he stuck you up?"

"No, he didn´t have the gun then. At least, he didn´t show one. He took the gun away from Montgomery, probably. He just picked me up. I´m kind of cute sometimes."

 

 

Hats off to Nulty for keeping up with Marlowe´s explanations.

 

 

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review 2017-08-25 09:23
Morse bows out...
The Remorseful Day (Inspector Morse, #13) - Colin Dexter

The final book (13/13), in the series of crime novels featuring Chief Inspector Morse and a bravura performance from the great detective (and his creator), on which to bring down the curtain. For all his foibles and personality flaws, the irascible Morse stands tall among the pantheon of fictional sleuths and in spite of deteriorating health, he remains the best that Thames Valley CID can put in the field. And, in this tale, a particular focus is shone on the respective relationships between Morse, DS Lewis and Chief Superintendent Strange, which only adds to the feeling of a finale.


The unsolved murder of nurse, Yvonne Harrison, the previous year is a source of bitter regret for Strange and with his retirement looming, he would dearly like to leave a clean slate. However, notwithstanding the determined coercion of his superior officer, Morse is reluctant to take the case, to the point of outright insubordination. Lewis, suspecting that Morse perhaps had an historic entanglement with the victim, gets the re-opened investigation underway, but finds Morse popping up ‘unofficially’, usually ahead of his own inquiries.


Between the family members (husband, daughter, son), a series of lovers and the closed ranks of the local village, the list of suspects is lengthy. However, it is gratifying to see Lewis, unaccustomed to leading proceedings, take up the mantle, as the continued deterioration in Morse’s health hampers his involvement.


Reflections from each of the policemen are also poignant. For example, Lewis observes that “his own service in the CID had been enriched immeasurably because of his close association, over so many years now, with his curmudgeonly, miserly, oddly vulnerable chief”. In his turn, Morse takes to writing down his latest thoughts on the case, almost as a premonition or at least an insurance against his unpredictable health concerns. In the event, the case is chased to an elaborate conclusion, with the author twisting and turning to the last, but the loss of Morse, by comparison, overshadows a rather mundane and tawdry outcome.


For a brief moment, even Lewis has cause to consider the ethics of his hero’s apparent actions, but happily Morse’s reputation for authentic leadership emerges untainted. Moreover, it may speak volumes that as a reader, I also mourn his passing. Still, while television indulges in imagined sequels and prequels, the series of books crafted by Colin Dexter remains the undisputed origin of a truly exceptional literary character. May they both rest in peace.

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review 2017-08-18 12:13
Colin Dexter still at his peak!
Death Is Now My Neighbour (Inspector Morse, #12) - Colin Dexter

Book 12/13 and the penultimate novel in the series of murder mysteries confronted by Chief Inspector Morse of Thames Valley Police. And after the sombre tone of “The Daughters of Cain”, a more emollient and less emburdened Morse takes to the fray, centred on the race to succeed Sir Clixby Bream, retiring Master of Lonsdale College, Oxford.


There is something immediately intriguing about peering behind the dense curtain surrounding such elites and for the reader it is unsurprising to learn that superficial impressions will prove as important as academic substance. Indeed, for the only two candidates (Julian Storrs and Denis Cornford) the stakes could scarcely be higher, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for elevation and preferment expected to culminate in a knighthood. But, for such a prize, ambition and even ruthlessness may be required, to burnish reputations, curry favour with the electorate and suppress unhelpful information.
Both contenders also have the dedicated support of a wife, but a crude ‘SWOT’ analysis might conclude that the ‘strengths’ and ‘opportunities’ conferred by their respective partners are at least balanced by the attendant ‘weaknesses’ and ‘threats’. Certainly the vulnerability to be exploited from past mistakes/experiences looms large in this tale, extending even to Morse. However, notwithstanding the opprobrium directed at ‘blackmailers’, as abusers of power, there is also a dearth of sympathy for the disempowered ‘victim’, or the manipulated.


What endears Morse to the reader is his candid, but paradoxical unwillingness to defer to authority figures and yet clinging to his own superior status. Only DS Lewis, intermittently coveted as a friend, is thus protected, in spite of outbursts of insubordination and frank observations, intolerable from any other quarter. In this book, Morse also continues to experience deteriorating health and the two detectives are inexorably drawn closer together and in the ultimate, touching confirmation of Lewis’ favoured status, the enigmatic Morse shares his Christian name (via correspondence, of course).


Along the way there is the customary flawed hypothesizing, analysis, building and rejigging of the facts, before the final puzzle is expertly revealed. My favourite analogy of Morse’s thought process was of a train passing through a station, too fast to read the nameplate, but as the carriage slows the location may hove into view.
Again, Dexter has deftly juxtaposed the traditional façade of high academic establishment with base human behaviour. That the privileged miscreant can be humbled before the law is reassuring, even satisfying. Still, even Morse has limitations to his moral authority and contemptible characters slip through the net, but at least he makes a positive difference.


Notwithstanding the CWA daggers liberally awarded throughout this series of books, I think this may yet be my most enjoyable read. Perhaps, not the most complex or devious puzzle, but more for the development of the main characters and the masterful set up for the final book. Bring it on!

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review 2017-07-30 13:08
Hell hath no fury....

Book 11/13 of the crime novels involving Chief Inspector Morse and as the great detective contemplates retirement with his boss (Superintendent Strange), we are faced with the prospect of an illustrious career running into the buffers. Certainly this investigation, which starts with the murder of Dr Felix McClure, has a familiar level of complexity, but it also seems to lack the dynamism of earlier challenges. The case passes belatedly to Morse and Lewis, when the wife of the incumbent detective, Inspector Phillotson, falls ill. Typically cynical, an underwhelmed Morse wonders whether the withdrawal of his colleague has more to do with Phillotson's competence than the health of his partner. Still, the subsequent death of Mrs Phillotson pricks Morse's conscience and perhaps connecting with a sense of his own mortality, he discreetly contacts the bereaved in an unusual demonstration of empathy. Indeed, the book is tinged with a sombre tone throughout, as Morse simultaneously navigates the murder inquiry and his own dip in health, even provoking unlikely, though short-lived, attempts to curtail smoking and drinking!

 

As always, the loyal and diligent DS Lewis anchors Morse in mundane reality.

"Lewis said nothing. He knew well where his duties lay in circumstances such as these: to do the donkey-work; to look through everything, without much purpose, and often without much hope." 

Yet, when Morse shares his intention to retire the following autumn, the sadness experienced by Lewis is magnified by an impending sense of loss and the realization that a dimming of his brightest days must also follow. Lewis is conscious that his function is largely a supporting role, to undertake the 'heavy lifting' that enables the divaesque Morse to give vent to his exceptional powers of deduction, but Lewis is also a dedicated cheerleader and his undoubted optimism in his hero's capacity is endearing.

 

Given Morse's lustful tendencies towards the fairer sex, it is perhaps poignant that this latest case should centre on three female suspects. Amid the bewildering convergence of murder, drugs, prostitution and theft, Lewis echoes the thoughts of the reader when he observes, "Morse nearly always got things hopelessly, ridiculously wrong at the start of every case", but we can also share Lewis's expectation that the ability of Morse to unlock the presenting puzzle, will culminate in the similarly predictable resolution.

 

I have commented previously on the implausibility of Morse's dalliance with beautiful protagonists (sometimes suspects) and again in this book his Achilles heel is exposed. Still, as the character ages and becomes more physically frail, there is something mildly pathetic and sad, as Morse succumbs to his own vulnerability, as well as dicing with that of another bruised soul. However, there is something intriguing about flawed genius and this book is as absorbing as those which have gone before, but perhaps I share a touch of Lewis's foreboding and disappointment at the inexorable dimming of such brilliance. Just two book left in the series...

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