The theme of The Long Goodbye, the sixth of Chandler’s seven novels, is again the corruption of American society, especially its rich. It is also about alienation and the need for love and friendship.
Marlowe befriends a charming drunk, Terry Lennox, in the parking lot of a swank Beverly Hills restaurant. Terry comes to him a few months later, and Marlowe drives him down across the U.S. border into Tijuana. It seems that Terry’s wealthy wife, Sylvia, the daughter of Harlan Potter, a newspaper magnate, has been murdered, and the police suspect Terry. The police arrest Marlowe as an accessory when he pulls into the driveway of his Hollywood Hills home after the long trip back from the Mexican border town.
The police release Marlowe after they receive a written murder confession from Terry, as well as the news that he has died in Mexico. The police warn Marlowe off the case, as do several others, including Linda Loring. Linda, the disenchanted wife of a physician, is the sister of the murdered Sylvia. Later, she becomes Marlowe’s lover for a single night.
Meanwhile, Eileen Wade, the beautiful wife of a successful writer, Roger Wade, hires Marlowe to rescue her husband from a disreputable clinic for wealthy alcoholics. After Marlowe does so, Eileen begs him to stay with her husband to keep him sober long enough to finish another novel. Marlowe remains for a while but then leaves, disgusted with Roger’s drunken confessions of adultery with Sylvia Lennox and with Eileen’s seductive behavior. Marlowe returns to the Wade house a week later to have lunch with Roger. Roger gets drunk and passes out, and Marlowe stays near the house to watch over him. When Eileen returns from shopping that afternoon,...
(The entire section is 714 words.)