The seductive and relentless figure of Raymond Chandler’s detective, Philip Marlowe, is vividly re-imagined in present-day Los Angeles. Here is a city of scheming Malibu actresses, ruthless gang members, virulent inequality, and washed-out police. Acclaimed and award-winning novelist Joe Ide imagines a Marlowe very much of our time: he’s a quiet, lonely, and remarkably capable and confident private detective, though he lives beneath the shadow of his father, a once-decorated LAPD homicide detective, famous throughout the city, who’s given in to drink after the death of Marlowe’s mother.
Marlowe, against his better judgement, accepts two missing person cases, the first a daughter of a faded, tyrannical Hollywood starlet, and the second, a British child stolen from his mother by his father. At the center of COAST is Marlowe’s troubled and confounding relationship with his father, a son who despises yet respects his dad, and a dad who’s unable to hide his bitter disappointment with his grown boy. Together, they will realize that one of their clients may be responsible for murder of her own husband, a washed-up director in debt to Albanian and Russian gangsters, and that the client’s trouble-making daughter may not be what she seems.
Now, I must confess that whilst I’m familiar with Chandler’s iconic hardboiled private eye Philip Marlowe, it’s been a long time since I read any. So I was intrigued when I was offered the chance to read Joe Ide’s reimagined version, bringing the detective into today’s City of Angels.
And what a story it is.
The Goodbye Coast sees Marlowe following a couple of missing persons cases – the daughter of a Hollywood star who disappeared after her father was murdered, and the son of a British woman who has been taken by his own father. Then there’s gangsters, a bit of double-crossing, you get the idea. Basically all the good stuff you want in a detective novel.
I loved The Goodbye Coast, and Ide’s interpretation of Marlowe as a modern-day PI. Los Angeles is brought to shimmering life by Ide’s superb writing and you can feel the gritty streets, the faded glamour of Hollywood stars past their heyday, the urban sprawl of the city under Marlowe’s feet.
Ide clearly loves these characters and this city. I loved the sharp dialogue, especially between Marlowe and his father Emmet, a grumpy cop on leave because of his drinking. Then there’s the relationship between Emmet and Cody, the young runaway looking for a new start.
This is the first of Joe Ide’s books that I’ve read, but on the strength of this I’ll be checking out his others.
The Goodbye Coast by Joe Ide is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 17th February 2022.
Many thanks to the publisher for the advance copy of Joe’s book to review, and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the tour.