I’d have enjoyed it more if it weren’t trying to be Marlowe…
Even though they are not my typical thing (my personal preferences tend to lean more towards historical mysteries and police procedurals), I’ve really enjoyed Joe Ide’s IQ books. So I was excited to receive a review copy of Ide’s new book, The Goodbye Coast, which has been marketed as a “reinvention of a classic”. The classic being, of course, Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series. Unfortunately, it can be really hard to update a classic, and I think I’d have enjoyed this book more without the Chandler/Marlowe ties.
First off, Ide gets a number of things right. His Philip Marlowe is a credible descendant of Chandler’s Marlowe, with a certain “apartness” that feels right for the role. And Ide’s Los Angeles is just as much a character in The Goodbye Coast as it is in any Chandler book – with the same fabulous, but often shallow, wealth found cheek-by-jowl with grifters and gangs. Beyond that, though, it felt to me as if the effort to re-imagine Chandler had led Ide down a path that he didn’t quite manage to own. The plot was a little too hard to follow (not that Chandler’s are easy), and a little too long, and I’d have preferred a cleaner, sparer book. And I wasn’t fond of the shifting viewpoints either – first we are in Marlowe’s head, then in the client’s, then in Marlowe’s dad’s… Even with its issues, though, somehow The Goodbye Coast grabbed me and kept me reading late into the night. So, it’s worth reading, IMO – I just think Ide could have done a better job with these characters and this Los Angeles if he weren’t trying to write a modern Chandler.
Oh, and FWIW, I loved the title and the covers – both US and UK.
Finally, my thanks to the publisher, Mulholland Books, and to NetGalley for the review copy.