The Goodbye Coast
reviewed by Lou Jacobs
Marlowe is back! Rejoice fans of the iconic private investigator from the books of Raymond Chandler. In The Goodbye Coast he’s reimagined in modern day Los Angeles by highly acclaimed novelist Joe Ide ( EE-day) of the beloved and unique IQ series, featuring private investigator, Isaiah Quintabe.
Ide imbues Marlowe with a gift for observation and deduction. Marlowe notices what most people don’t and assimilates and deduces connections veiled in ambiguity. A veritable sleuthing guru. His narrative epitomizes the hard boiled crime fiction of the 1920s. Ide maintains the same “tough guy” detective, who loves his “top notch” bourbon and smokes Camel cigarettes, but, unlike the Marlowe of lore, he enjoys his vices in moderation, rather than excess. This Marlowe also is not fooled by the femme fatales, and recognizes them for their true motivations and foibles.
The present day Los Angeles provides an atmospheric backdrop, filled with scheming and sordid Hollywood people, brutal gangsters, the mentally ill and poor, the homeless, and the ubiquitous inequality.
Ide provides Marlowe with a unique back story. Highlighted by a contentious relationship with his decorated LAPD homicide detective father, Emmet. Marlowe aspired to also be a cop—a detective, like his father. But, as his father predicted, he washed-out of the police academy after three weeks, due to his attitude.He couldn’t follow orders, nor accept authority and disrespected the officer in charge.
Marlowe’s next career choice involved apprenticing as a private investigator with an ex-detective and old friend of Emmet. Thus he gained experience and ultimately his license. As his mother, Addie, was fighting Ovarian cancer, Emmet began drinking heavily and with her death this accelerated. He disregarded pleas to seek treatment.
Marlowe meets his client, movie star Kendra James, at her posh, sprawling Malibu estate on the water. Kendra is a notoriously nasty diva, that thinks nothing of destroying careers and reputations—she herself an almost washed-up actress with little in the way of new parts.Marlowe has an obvious dislike for her, and the wealthy with their power and privilege, and excess.Nonetheless, he listens to her story and accepts the case of finding her missing step-daughter Cody.Her ex-husbandand failed director, Terry was murdered, shot to death on the beach.Cody ran away two weeks ago without further contact.Kendra is “very worried” and Marlowe’s “bull-shit” meter is going crazy.Kendra describes Cody as being spoiled rotten, secretive, smart but devious.She is slender, pretty and typically dresses in Emo goth garb, and has short, dyed black hair and green eyes.Kendra comments to Marlowe, that his reputation precedes him, as being at best prickly, and somewhat of a rude, impolite boor.
Marlowe, unfazed, strikes a dapper pose in his handmade, dove-gray suit, black silk tie, brilliant white Egyptian cotton shirt and expensive, impeccable oxfords, and drives away in his three hundred and forty-nine horsepower, Mustang GT. Marlowe didn’t have much use for guns, His 9mm Sig was safely nestled in a covered frying pan, on the top of his stove at his office / home.
As Marlowe starts his investigation and following down multiple leads, everything pointed to a linkage involving the motivation for Terry’s murder. He was unfortunately known in the industry and a “one-hit” wonder, followed by a string of losers. Reportedly he was planning a “comeback” movie and had obtained funding…. possibly from the Russians or the Armenians. Nothing good can come from this scenario. While investigating he reluctantly is tasked with a second client, Ren Stewart. She was married for seven years to Fallon, and a victim of a whirlwind romance. On a regular visit, six weeks ago, he kidnapped their son, Jeremy, and their savings and fled from England to Hollywood. Fallon was an aspiring actor, who met with little success at home. ( Only Joe Ide could somehow conjure up the image of the psychotic Chihuahua, from the popular and often inappropriate cartoon: Ren and Stimpy, on the basis of Marlowe’s clients first name ) . Ide expertly intertwines the two investigations, that somehow collide in significance.
Joe Ide proves to be a masterful storyteller as he uses fantastic multidimensional characterizations and intricate plotting and prose to effortlessly fashion a twisted and complex narrative, that escalates to a powerful denouement – satisfying, and yet, having the reader yearn for more. He concocts a brew of viciousness, depravity and evil as Marlowe plows through the seamy underbelly of Los Angles, involving both the glitz, glamour and the Skid Row portions, where the impoverished, homeless, addicted, and mentally ill dwell. To complement his ingenious plotting, Ide inserts witty banter and social commentary to propel the story forward. His characters are no mere caricatures, but real life beings that will remain with the reader long after the last page is turned. I personally do not envision this Marlowe as Humphrey Bogart, ala The Big Sleep, but rather James Garner, from the 1969 movie, “Marlowe” ( which was based upon Chandler’s 1949 novel: The Little Sister ). Hopefully, Marlowe will continue to grow and struggle in further adventures penned by the amazing Joe Ide.
Thanks to NetGalley and Mulholland Books for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review.