Crime Fiction: The Goodbye Coast by Joe Ide

Let’s get one thing straight first: This is not “a Philip Marlowe novel.” Yes, that claim is made on the cover; and yes, there is a Los Angeles private eye in these pages bearing said moniker. But Joe Ide’s The Goodbye Coast (Mulholland) isn’t a Marlowe yarn in the same way as some other previous works of note. There is no intimate, first-person narration in these pages, and no indelible metaphors.

Instead, this book imagines what Raymond Chandler’s cigarette-smoking, chess-playing, and infinitely lonely, mid-20th-century gumshoe might be like were he catapulted forward into our own distracted and divided era, and asked to solve crimes committed by folks more debased and self-possessed than anyone about whom Chandler ever wrote. The results are uneven and overly complicated at times, yet laudable for the way author Ide (who writes the Isaiah “IQ” Quintabe detective series) sifts in incidental humor and evocative descriptions of L.A.

Marlowe’s principal client here is Kendra James, a movie star in whirlwind decline, whose spoiled teenage stepdaughter, Cody, vanished in the wake of her moviemaker father’s shooting death. Aided by his own reproving pater, Emmet, a wiry, alcoholic ex-cop hollowed out by the loss of his wife, Marlowe finds and then protects Cody, who refuses to return home, blaming Kendra for her dad’s demise. Meanwhile, the P.I. also takes on the case of a boy kidnapped amid a child-custody battle. Eventually, these investigations intersect in madcap antics and hair-triggered bloodshed.

Readers new to Marlowe will relish Ide’s piquant dialogue and conflicted character relationships. Chandler purists should try to forget this is supposed to be “a Philip Marlowe novel,” and just appreciate it as proof that classic-style shamus stories need not be a thing of the past. ◊

1 Comment

  1. This isn’t Marlowe. If it’s updated and set in the present day, it isn’t Marlowe. You can’t just slap a character’s name on a completely different character and claim that it’s the same character. I’ve held this book in my hand and examined it closely – just today, as a matter of fact – and it isn’t Marlowe. It’s an abomination.

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