Farewell My Lovely Summary

Raymond Chandler

Farewell My Lovely

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Farewell My Lovely Summary

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Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler is a detective novel featuring private investigator, Philip Marlowe. This was Chandler’s second novel to feature the iconic Los Angeles private eye. Along with the violence, murder, jewel thieves, and corruption, the novel also includes a love story.

The literary genre of Farewell, My Lovely is hard-boiled fiction. This genre features a detective as a protagonist. The detective witnesses the organized crime that takes place during the Prohibition from 1920-1933. In addition to the expected organized crime, murder and violence, this genre also features a corrupt legal system.

Philip Marlowe, private eye, is the narrator of the novel. He is a man with an intense sense of curiosity about people and situations, which helps him to be successful in his work. He is an honorable man, and a modern romantic hero with a sense of humor.

Farewell, My Lovely is set in Los Angeles and the fictional town of Bay City. Chandler created Bay City to stand in for Santa Monica, known for its corrupt city government during the Great Depression.

The novel begins at a nightclub named Florian’s in Los Angeles. Moose Malloy is an ex-convict who has just served eight years behind bars. Malloy is a huge man who is not intelligent. He barges in looking for Velma Valento, his ex-girlfriend. The club has changed ownership since Velma was a regular so no one there knows Velma or her whereabouts. In a state of rage, Malloy murders the owner of the club, a black man, and injures the bouncer. Private Eye Phillip Marlowe happens to be at the club. He reports the crime to the police. The uninterested Los Angeles Police detective, Lt. Nulty, gets assigned the case.

Marlowe believes the key to finding Malloy is to find Velma. Marlowe’s curiosity compels him to go looking for Velma. First, he goes to the home of the former bar owner and meets his widow, Mrs. Jessie Florian. After getting her to open up by offering her bourbon, Marlowe learns that Velma worked as a singer at the bar. Jessie gives him a photo of Velma.

Meanwhile, Marlowe is hired to investigate another case by Mr. Lindsay Marriott. Marriott’s friend has had a jade necklace stolen from him. Marlowe is hired to help deliver the ransom money for the stolen necklace. At the meeting location, a remote canyon in Malibu, Marriott is murdered and Marlowe gets hit on the head from behind and knocked unconscious. When Marlowe awakens, he discovers that Marriott is dead.

When he comes to, he meets Anne Riordan. She is a lovely, intelligent woman with spunk. She is also the daughter of the former police of chief of Bay City. She offers to take Marlowe home.

Using her police connections, Anne tries to help Marlowe solve Marriot’s case. She learns from Lt. Randall that the stolen necklace belongs to Helen Grayle. Helen is the wife of Lewin Lockridge Grayle, a wealthy and important Bay City resident. Mrs. Grayle, who used to work as a singer, met Mr. Grayle at his radio station. She keeps her past life a secret.

Marlowe discovers on a hunch that Lindsay Marriott holds a trust deed on Mrs. Florian’s house. This means he can foreclose on the home. It also provides an indirect connection between Moose Malloy and Helen Grayle. Marlowe learns from Mrs. Florian that she once worked as a servant for the Marriott family. Marlowe has reason to believe that Mrs. Florian was blackmailing Marriott in some way.

Anne suggests that Mrs. Grayle hire Marlowe to find her jewelry. The beautiful, blonde Mrs. Grayle invites Marlowe to her home. The two have a mutual attraction. But the honorable Marlowe will not get involved with a married woman. Mrs. Grayle hires him which allows Marlowe to continue his investigations into the murders of both Marriott and the club owner.

On Marriot’s body, Marlowe found the card of Jules Amthor, a psychic. Marlowe makes an appointment to see the psychic. Amthor, who feels threatened by Marlowe’s questioning, calls the Bay City police to arrest Marlowe. The corrupt Bay City police knock Marlowe unconscious and keep him drugged in a private hospital run by a drug dealer named Dr. Sonderborg. As Marlowe escapes, he spies Malloy in a different room.

Marlowe meets Lt. Randall, who acts bothered that Marlowe is still investigating the case. The two men suspect that Marriott was working with Amthor to blackmail wealthy women. When they go to talk to Mrs. Florian again, they discover that she has been murdered. Marlowe and Randall suspect Moose Malloy shook her to death.

The plot continues to take twists and turns. Mrs. Grayle turns out to be Velma. Velma worked together with Marriott, a former radio colleague, to keep Mrs. Florian silent about her true identity. Velma also had Marriott killed to protect her identity. She had even told the police about Malloy’s theft, which sent him to prison. Velma flees but when she is finally caught in Baltimore she commits suicide.

Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) was an American novelist best known for his detective fiction and his famous private eye, Philip Marlowe. His novels include The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell, My Lovely (1940), and The Long Goodbye (1953). These novels were all made into films.  Chandler also worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He received Academy Award nominations for Double Indemnity and The Blue Dahlia.