RARA-AVIS: Endings of Parker and Marlowe

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 21 Dec 2004

Hmmm... don't read this if you're SPOILER-phobic.

The ending of NOBODY RUNS FOREVER, as Mark pointed out, seems to leave several things up in the air. Is this Stark's swansong for Parker, perhaps? Or a suggestion a big change ("a crisis point") is coming, possibly to do with Claire? The title is ominous enough.

I agree that the book might mark an "interesting turning point in the series....where Parker's attachments bring him to a crisis point" Perhaps the next book will tell... if there is one.

But really, that brings us back to Chandler and the ending of PLAYBACK (the novel) and the first few chapters of POODLE SPRINGS. Those snippets of a Marlowe in love aren't completely out of character, if you view them as the logical extension of the view of Marlowe as knight, which goes right back to the beginning, in THE BIG SLEEP.

Marlowe's always been one of the more romantic figures in detective fiction, after all. Certainly, there's something of the Arthurian romance or the chivalric tradition or whatever you want to call it in the Marlowe books (LADY IN THE LAKE, anyone?), so it does make at least a little sense that eventually Marlowe would find his lady fair. PLAYBACK and POODLE SPRINGS may have marked a change from the other books (and perhaps Chandler didn't pull it off as well as he could), but all that lovey-dovey stuff isn't completely inconsistent with Marlowe's world view. Maybe Chandler just wanted Marlowe to be happy for once, especially since the author's own life was circling the drain by then.

Interesting to note that Ross Macdonald's last published book, THE BLUE HAMMER, suggests Archer may have finally found someone too. And McDonald's McGee met the love of his life near the end of the series, as well (although she got bumped off in THE GREEN RIPPER, he did pick up a daughter in the last book, THE LONELY SILVER RAIN). And Marlowe and Loring's relationship in many ways paved the way for Spenser and Susan, a point Parker himself has made (Jim, put that in your paradigm).

I mean, marrying off or otherwise pairing off your formerly lone wolf detective has been done a zillion times before and since, but in many ways it would have been interesting to see where Chandler would have taken it. Would he have let Marlowe and Linda crash and burn, or would he have figured out a way to pull it off? Certainly, Parker suggested one way, a sort of separate-but-together scenario, but what would Chandler have done?


Kevin Burton Smith
The Thrilling Detective Web Site Holiday Issue New stories and the 2004 Thrillies. http://www.thrillingdetective.com

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