Requiem For A Gumshoe.

Sorry for the prolonged absence. Finishing a manuscript for a novel that may or may not get published depending on the fortunes of the would-be publisher’s ability to get a start-up operation off the ground and airborne in a cyber sort of way. Always best to take a run at whatever is your passion. Regardless of the outcome, regret at not having tried is never a good thing to look back on.

Most recent reading has included Poodle Springs, the last effort of Raymond Chandler, who died after only completing four chapters. The chapters were, to be sadly honest, sad. It was actually the remaining chapters, ably picked up and driven to a satisfying conclusion by well known and prolific author, Robert B. Parker, that made the page-turning worthwhile.

Great writers in the twilight of their time before the keys frequently slide into mere impersonations of what they once were. Chandler was still trying, to be sure. But it was obviously taking him longer to get to the heart of the matter than it once did. And his penchant for iconoclastic prose was greatly lacking as well. To his credit, Parker picked up the pace and the poetic essence of Chandler’s once classic approach. He delivered a novel that is not only an homage, but also an entertainment worth the investment of time and hope both for what’s on the pages themselves and for what might have been.

Poodle Springs is Chandler’s take on Palm Springs circa 1958, before it became the ultimate Rat Pack hangout and desert oasis for the fabulously wealthy that it is today. Then it was simply an oasis for the soon-to-be-fabulously-weatlthy and those whose wealth was invested in country clubs, houseboys, nightclubs, and ennui. As is the case in most of the Philip Marlowe tales, there are missing persons, murder, mayhem, and a dollop of things that might have been. If nothing else, hopefully it will whet your appetite for all the other Chandler novels you haven’t read but wished you had.

If you see Poodle Springs in an obscure bookshop or happen to run across the 1998 HBO movie that was made of it with James Caan in the Marlowe role, spend an hour or two with it. Even though it was the least and the last of Chandler’s efforts, a little of his humanity goes a very long way.

At least that’s what the Fiction Fortune Hunter thinks.

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