Only bold souls tread on the graves of noir icons like Raymond Chandler, but Joe Ide is one such adventurer. Ide is one of my favorite crime fiction authors, his five-book-strong Isaiah Quintable (aka IQ) series being full of gems. Now, in “The Goodbye Coast,” he transplants Chandler’s flinty, wise-cracking PI, Philip Marlowe, into the Los Angeles of today. In this reincarnation of sorts, Marlowe is a redoubtable PI, full of inner strength, operating as a hugely busy investigator alongside his alcoholic cop father. The novel’s detective puzzle involves a success-addled starlet, whose producer husband was recently murdered, seeking their runaway daughter. Joe Ide loves writing freakish scumbag crooks and soon the roster of suspects is a tornado of violence around Marlowe, who battles on according to his own code of practice, one that is not, unsurprisingly, unlike that of Chandler’s Marlowe.
Not everything in The Goodbye Coast worked for me. Marlowe Mark II struck me as nothing like the original, just a pale shadow really, and the byzantine plot is often dull. And the denouement, while Chandlerish, feels forced. The author’s writing style is nothing like Chandler’s nor indeed like his own regular style, and the prose can feel clunky. That said, the action scenes are unfurled with typical Ide aplomb and the L.A. atmospherics are wonderful. Overall, a mixed bag that nonetheless entertains.