5.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Usual Philip Marlowe Mystery -- Interesting!
This is a novel mostly written by Robert Parker, drawing on four chapters started by Raymond Chandler at the end of his life. If you are looking for a great Marlowe story done just like the early ones, you will be disappointed. If you are glad to have one more chance to be with Marlowe, I think you will be pleased with the experience.
The story is a natural for...
Published on May 28 2000 by Donald Mitchell
3.0 out of 5 stars marlowe, is it you?
Robert B. Parker does an admirable job of capturing Marlowe's character, in this somewhat dissappointing (as expected) attempt to bring him back to life. Marlowe is married to a millionaire in a desert oasis, yet feels compelled to continue to eek out his own nickel, playing the hard boiled detective in LA by day. Predictably, the marriage is put under stress as...
Published on March 9 2003 by Paul Skinner
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best Philip Marlowe, but a treat for Marlowe fans,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Hardcover)Poodle Springs is a Philip Marlowe mystery that starts with four chapters Raymond Chandler wrote before his death in 1959. Thirty years later Robert B. Parker finishes the work left by Chandler. Parker is an accomplished mystery author himself and breathes life back into Philip Marlowe so we can follow one more case.
Yet Parker is not Chandler and there are places in the book where I kept feeling that he wasn't getting Marlowe just right. Probably I was looking for these non-Chandleresque moments and they are actually intriguing. Marlowe fans can read the book with this additional level of interest: did Parker capture the essence of Philip Marlowe in this scene or not?
All that aside this is a well-paced and entertaining mystery. There is a side plot as the book opens right after Marlowe's marriage to an heiress. The tension is between the independent and honest detective and his pampered wife who can't understand each other. He gets along better with her house boy, and she can't understand why he won't sit back and let her daddy take care of them.
The main plot is pure Marlowe with a sleazy pornographer/blackmailer leading a double life and mixed up in a murder. Marlowe keeps discovering bodies which puts him in trouble with the cops. Yet he can't quite figure out who is the murderer until it is almost too late.
If you haven't read Raymond Chandler this is not the place to start. Although this is a minor addition to the Marlowe corpus, it will be a welcome addition to those who have read the other works and desire more Marlowe. It reads quickly and never lets you down.
3.0 out of 5 stars marlowe, is it you?,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)Robert B. Parker does an admirable job of capturing Marlowe's character, in this somewhat dissappointing (as expected) attempt to bring him back to life. Marlowe is married to a millionaire in a desert oasis, yet feels compelled to continue to eek out his own nickel, playing the hard boiled detective in LA by day. Predictably, the marriage is put under stress as Marlowe's job makes it difficult to get home for dinner. The mystery is a little strange. Marlowe immerses himself into a pair of murders, going beyond the instructions of his client. In the end, the murderer goes out in a way that I found difficult to believe. Nice try, but there will never be another Chandler.
3.0 out of 5 stars Marlowe's Last Case,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)Raymond Chandler's death in 1959 left the beginnings of this novel; thirty years later it was finished by Robert B. Parker. It does not seem to match Chandler's earlier work. Perhaps because it echoes these and other stories?
Some anachronisms jarred my reading. I can believe Linda driving a Fleetwood convertible in 1959 or 1969, but they were long obsolete by 1989. While scandals from nude photos were believable then, the weekly magazines and newspapers have inured us since the 1970s. Unless it involved an elected official, and maybe not even then. Marlowe seems to drive around without ever getting caught in traffic, too. Is LA like that? At 42, does his attitudes reflect other baby boomers? The story involves a gambling establishment outside the city limits. Would either the FBI or Calif pass up a chance to raid it since the 1960s? Wouldn't a casino in Nevada be more likely? The sun-drenched streets of pre-war Los Angeles ("the best trolley system in the country") have been long replaced by the smog and gloom of Big Oil's Freeways. "Roger Rabbit" treated this as background for a cartoon.
The square miles of land around LA were worthless because there was no trolley system there. Destroying the trolley system put people into cars. Now these distant lands became commercially valuable. Newspaper owners benefitted when they were developed. Even bigger forces were at work to bring in Government contracts, and factories from out or state. The northeast was drained to irrigate southern California. And all perfectly legal!
The ending is different from "The Big Sleep", and it seems more cynical to wrap it up with a 'deus ex machina' ending. TBS let the guilty walk because they were rich and powerful, and doesn't it still happen that way? Not just in LA? A better ending would find the suicided Larry Victor with a typed but unsigned confession, and the widow Valentine hospitalized for a nervous breakdown.
3.0 out of 5 stars A fast, easy read,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)I found this pleasant enough, enjoyable enough. I read it easily in a couple of readings. And I did enjoy it, but it didn't grab hold of me like Raymond Chandler's stories. I had no trouble lying it down around the 2/3 point, and eventually coming back to finish it. I always had a bit more trouble lying down a Raymond Chandler story.
I didn't often stop and look through earlier parts to confirm an idea in my mind, as I did with Chandler. I didn't have any "aha!"s throughout the book.
The Marlowe characterization was weak. I didn't notice that he quit smoking in the middle of the book, as one reviewer thought he noticed...in fact, he kept up pretty well with alternating between the pipe and cigarettes all the way through. Being married does obviously create problems he hadn't had before. It does inhibit him, and just the situation does keep him from being the Marlowe we're used to. He has someone else besides himself to think of now, and it's messing up his basic style.
The case he's working on and the subplot of his shaky marriage do work together well enough, because the personal challenges in his life are affecting his feelings toward the characters involved.
On it's own, this is good enough, but not great. A larger than average percentage of the characters make it to the end of the book. And Parker doesn't have quite the photographic description of people and places that Chandler did. So it will let down Chandler & Marlowe fans, but supply others with a brisk, satisfying , though likely soon forgotten, read.
3.0 out of 5 stars Philip Spenser, please stand up.,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker, Poodle Springs (Putnam, 1989)
Raymond Chandler died leaving the first four chapters of a new Philip Marlowe novel. Eventually, Robert Parker's publisher got hold of them and figured that if Parker were truly the most worthy successor to the Chandler legacy, who best to complete the book? And while the finished product is a decent piece of work, it's not Chandler, and it's not really Parker, either. It certainly isn't Marlowe.
Chandler throws a twist into the opening sentences of the book. He's married Marlowe off to a wealthy socialite who lives in Poodle Springs, a town some hours from Marlowe's usual LA haunts. Being Marlowe, he's unwilling to retire and live off his wife's fortune, so he goes about setting up shop in town. Within an hour of starting, he's already got himself a job tracking down a good-for-nothing who's welched on a hundred thousand dollar gambling debt. Problem is, the welcher happens to be the husband of one of Marlowe's wife's best friends, who also happens to be the daughter of the richest guy in a very rich neighborhood. Things aren't looking up.
That's all well and good. Where the problems come in is the reader's perceptions of Philip Marlowe, based on Chandler's novels, and where Parker takes the character. As with many of Parker's non-Spenser excursions in the last thirty years (with a few exceptions, notably All Our Yesterdays), this ends up sounding somewhat like a Spenser novel. If Spenser and Susan ever got hitched, they'd sound a lot like Marlowe and his wife. (Spenser would have a better time making fun of the houseboy, though.) Marlowe's treatment of the rich loses the edge it has in Farewell, My Lovely and becomes more Spenserian, a kind of resigned amusement instead of contempt. You get the idea.
It may have been a fine plan, and the end result is readable, but not much more than that. ** 1/2
4.0 out of 5 stars he knew the job was tough when he took it...,
By A Customer
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)The heirs of Raymond Chandler, one of the most imitated writers of all time, approached Parker, an obvious disciple of the master, to finish an incomplete manuscript the deceased author left behind. This was a tough assignment: The story was begun when Chandler was past his prime, his habitual alcohol abuse having taken it's toll on his creative powers. There was no plot to speak of, just a few initial chapters, with Chandler's writing sounding like a maudlin parody of his earlier work. Still, the talent was there, and the playfulness and wit had not died out completely, in spite of all else. And like Sherlock Holmes, Philip Marlowe is too good to let him fade away just because his initial author has passed on. So Parker had to finish someone else's novel, with someone else's style and someone else's protagonist, in another place and time that wasn't his own. And he did a remarkable job - funny, witty, and as true to the original as the first five chapters that were given him would allow. It's a period piece that re-creates the decadent world of Marlowe's California, with a nod or two to contemporary tastes for violence and sexual content. So once you understand the obstacles, you can appreciate the result even more...a fun novel that stands on it's own as a parody and as a hard-boiled romp through old L.A., and a chance to spend some time with a much-missed thick-skinned soft-hearted galahad of the golden state, after a long goodbye.
2.0 out of 5 stars Marlowe Becomes Spenser,
By A Customer
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)After reading this book, I had to re-read the editorial hype in disbelief. Anyone who can't tell where Chandler left off and Parker took over is blind. Philip Marlowe was certainly an inspiration for Parker's Spenser character, so you'd expect some similarities, even if they were written by two different authors. But in this book, Marlowe does both a time-warp and a personality transformation right around Chapter Four, so that by the end of the story he walks and talks and acts like a wisecracking private eye from modern Boston - the only character that Parker seems able to write well. As if that's not bad enough, Marlowe appears to quit smoking somewhere in the middle, and he and his wife end with the same can't-live-with-you, can't-live-without-you relationship (we can still be lovers! she cheerfully declares after asking for a divorce) that is at the heart of the Spenser and Susan novels. Susan Silverman has a lot of complicated reasons to settle for less than a traditional marriage, but Mrs. Marlowe doesn't. The mystery isn't too bad if you like lots of lurid sex and murder, but it doesn't justify the sloppy writing. The end is unsatisfying because the baddest guy of all not only gets away, but gets Marlowe's assistance because, again like Spenser, he's a sucker for a nice woman in love with her man - even if the man is a scumbag. All in all, unless you're a serious fan and HAVE to read everything Parker has written (in other words, unless you're doomed like me), I'd recommend reading Chandler if you like Chandler, and Parker if you like Parker. Mixing them produced a foul smell.
3.0 out of 5 stars extremely tentative recommendation,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good on its own merit,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)This is Parker's book, as first four chapters, credited to Chandler, are a very small part of it. Thus this book can be evaluated on several tiers: (1) Is it a seamless continuation of the style and character development of Chandler's work? (2) Is it a valid representation of Chandler's characters, perhaps in the style of Parker? (3) Is it a good book on its own?
I haven't read Chandler, so I'll stick with (3). This book is a good read. The story, characters, and plot are sufficiently engaging that I found it hard to put down, which is rare for me. Parker really excels at detective fiction, and this ranks with his best.
One issue is that Marlowe as represented here is like Spenser's twin brother, so if you're tired of Spenser, you'll be only moderately refreshed by the new protagonist.
Another is that Parker's love for Boston and New England doesn't extend to LA, Hollywood, and "Poodle Springs" (Newberry Springs?). There's a shallowness in his description, which is perhaps partially justified. But Michael Connelly, for example, does a much better job of capturing a feel for life in the Los Angeles region.
But still I recommend this book. On it's own, it's a good, engaging detective novel.
5.0 out of 5 stars Not Your Usual Philip Marlowe Mystery -- Interesting!,
This review is from: Poodle Springs (Mass Market Paperback)This is a novel mostly written by Robert Parker, drawing on four chapters started by Raymond Chandler at the end of his life. If you are looking for a great Marlowe story done just like the early ones, you will be disappointed. If you are glad to have one more chance to be with Marlowe, I think you will be pleased with the experience.
The story is a natural for Parker, because it involves Marlowe getting married to a rich society woman on the spur of the moment. Having gotten together, they both realize that not all is right in this relationship. 'Can't live with him, can't live without him' could have been the title. The relationship raises a lot of the kinds of issues that Parker handles well in the Spenser stories between he and Susan.
Marlowe keeps at his detective work, and we get to meet a whole cast of hard characters with wonderfully terse dialogue and understatement. Although not as tough as a Chandler, it is certainly tough in an appealing Parkerish way.
Having grown up in Southern California in the 1950s, I could relate to the tale that Chandler/Parker have woven. It seemed to fit my memory of those times, and had a sort of smoky, boozy nostalgia attached to it.
Give it a try. The first five chapters are only about 26 pages. You'll have a good sense whether or not you want to read more. I know I could not have possibly put it down at that point. I was hooked. Maybe you will be, too. I hope it will be irresistible for you as well.
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Poodle Springs by Raymond Chandler (Mass Market Paperback - May 2 2002)
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