Re: RARA-AVIS: "Red Harvest" and characterization

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 30 Oct 2001

Juri wrote:

"But as for puzzles or mysteries, couldn't care less. There are some exceptions: Westlake's first, "The Mercenaries", and Ellroy's L.A. Quartet books. Maybe Chandler's "The Long Goodbye", since it's so tightly woven."

Juri, do you really think Long Goodbye was much of a mystery (in the whodunnit sense)? Not even Chandler thought that:

"Anyhow I wrote this as I wanted to because I can do that now. I didn't care whether the mystery was fairly obvious, but I cared about the people, about this strange corrupt world we live in, and how any man who tried to be honest looks in the end either sentimental or plain foolish."

And that's just what I like about the book, still my favorite Chandler. It was also my first Chandler and probably my first hardboiled novel. Even then I had noe trouble figuring out whodunnit and that's something I don't even try to do, happy just to go along for a ride with some interesting (but not bloated ) characters. And Long Goodbye does just that. It was thoroughly satisfying even when there was no mystery to be solved, fulfilling Chandler's dictum that a mystery novel should satisfy even if the last page is missing.


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