In general, FAREWELL, MY LOVELY once more finds street-smart and super-savvy California P.I. Philip Marlowe sticking his nose where it has no business being--and when curiosity leads him to follow a massively built white man into a black nightclub he finds himself embroiled in a murder no one cares about solving... at least not until it begins to figure in what seems to be a completely different case with a high-society spin. And encounters with stolen jewels, a spiritualist racket, police corruption, and a gambling ship quickly follow.
Along the way Chandler again paints a gritty portrait of the seamy side of life. On this occasion, he takes a passing look at race, and makes the point that from a police point of view two standards apply: the authorities care nothing about the murder of a black man, but they treat a white man's murder very differently indeed. This portion of the novel is intrinsically controversial, for Chandler uses the slang and racial slurs common to the mean streets of his era--but it is worth noting that although Marlowe uses the same language, his attitude toward the blacks who appear in the novel is considerably different from that of the authorities, who could not care less about the murder of a black man who don't much care who knows it. And once again, Chandler graces his pages with dames and dandies, broads and bums--and he makes them live with remarkable vitality. The famous prose is as rich as ever, although noticeably less witty and quite a bit darker than that found in THE BIG SLEEP. We've stepped off the curb and into the gutter, Chandler seems to be saying, and we're walking in it all the way.