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The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

 Assignment Guide

Portrait of Raymond ChandlerRaymond Chandler, together with Dashiell Hammett, were two of the founders of the style of detective known as hard-boiled. The hard-boiled detective novel was the first truly American novel.  Its sources come directly from the streets of the big cities of the 1920s and 1930s.  This is one of the reasons these books have stayed popular for nearly 100 years.

Raymond Chandler published the essay "The Simple Art of Murder" prior to writing The Long Goodbye. The essay is a literary criticism about the mastery of writing a mystery. The Long Goodbye is Chandler's sixth Philip Marlowe novel, published in 1953. Raymond Chandler's writing style evolves in this novel to highlight the corruption embedded in the fabric of American society. Critics suggest that  The Long Goodbye is an autobiographical portrait of Chandler. In 1955, Chandler won  the second annual Edgar Award for best mystery novel, for The Long Goodbye.

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles is a 30 minute streaming video that highlights how Chandler used life in Los Angeles as a backdrop for his work. If you are off campus or using wifi, you will be asked to input your library card number to watch the video in the Films on Demand database.


Adventures of Philip Marlowe have been reenacted in Oldtime Radio Crime Drama and Television series.


“Crime isn't a disease, it's a symptom. Cops are like a doctor that gives you aspirin for a brain tumour.” 

-Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (1953) ch. 47


Librarian talk . . . About Getting Started!

As you begin, narrow your topic to a size that you can manage. Consider keywords that will help you find the information you need. These can be names of people, literary works, events, or broader identifying terms. Use these keywords for locating information in the library catalog, electronic databases, and on the internet.

Keywords to consider: code of conduct; friendship and values; chivalry;suicide; alcoholism; corruption; deception; morality; Los Angeles, California; noir; hard-boiled; Philip Marlowe; detective; private eye; private investigator 

More about Choosing Keywords (30 sec.)

Main Characters

  • Philip Marlowe - private investigator
  • Terry Lennox - friend of detextive Philip marlow
  • Sylvia Lennox - wealthy and spoiled Los Angerles socialite; wife of Terry Lennox
  • Roger Wade - alcoholic writer
  • Eileen Wade - wife of Roger Wade and previously married to Terry Lennox

In the background

  • Bernie Ohls - Sheriff's deputy
  • Mendy Menendez - racketeer friend of Terry Lennox
  • Harlan Potter - newspaper publisher and father of Sylvia Lennoz and Linda Loring
  • Linda Loring - sister of Sylvia Lennox and Philip Marlowe's loverFilm noir image of a PI

Themes and topics to consider in your research

These suggestions will help you find information and begin the process of forming a thesis.  Use keywords as you search for articles in the databases.  This process will help you as you focus your ideas and firm up the thesis statement.  The articles you find will be useful resources to support the thesis in your paper.

  • Code of conduct
  • Law vs justice
  • The ability of the PI to enter different social worlds
  • Crime and corruption
  • Romanticism: modern-day knight, chivalry
  • Realism: location, Los Angeles, California 
  • Friendship and values
  • Role of women in the story: femme fatale, doll 
  • Point of view: how does Marlowe narration influence the story?
  • Noir novels and films: how do mystery writers influence mystery TV and films?
  • Hard-boiled crime novels (think about the type of language used) 

Books Fingerprints; Why

Librarian Talk . . .About Books!

Apply online for a library card. Search for books in the online catalog. Use the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to:
1) Place a Hold on a book and have it sent to the library closest to you
2) Access journal and reference databases from home, and
3) Access e-Books from Ebscohost.Use the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to log in from off-campus.

  More about...Finding Books (31 sec.)


Revolver These reference books will help you decide which topic you want to select as the focus of your paper.  Once you have a topic in mind, you will find the research process is easier.  They contain information on the background, setting, history and characters in the novel. This context will help you through the process of research.

  • REF PN3448.D4 H37 - Oxford Companion to Crime and Mystery Writing - information on authors, characters, time periods and themes of many of the detective novels in this genre of literature.
  • REF PR 830 .D4 C36 - The Cambridge Companion to Crime Fiction ed. By Martin Priestman - the history and criticism of mystery stories. How does The Long Goodbye fit in?
  • REF PR 830 .D4 M97 VI Mystery and Suspense Writers
  • REF PR830.D4 M97 - Mystery and suspense writers: the literature of crime, detection, and espionage
  • Ref PS 129 .A55 SUPP. 4 PT.1 American Writers
  • REF PS 221 .T834 V2 - The Chelsea House Library of Literary Criticism: Twentieth Century American Literature 
  • REF PS 374 .C43 M35 – Major Characters in American Fiction – provides information about Philip Marlowe and how Chandler’s character influenced American literature.
  • REF PS 374 .P63 S45 - Encyclopedia of Pulp Fiction - provides a history of the genre. How did this become mass produced, affordable, popular fiction develop?

These circulating books about detective fiction, hard-boiled crime novels and mysteries will help you know more about Chandler, Marlowe, and the noir novels.

  • PS 374 .D4 D48 - The Detective in American Fiction, Film, and Television

  • PS 374 .D4 H375 - Hardboiled Mystery Writers: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett , Ross MacDonald eds. Matthew J. Bruccolli and Richard Layman - More on Raymond Chandler's influence on the detective genre. Who was Raymond Chandler?

  • PS 374 .D4 M38 - Gumshoe America - Sean McCann discusses Chandler's influence on detective fiction.

  • PR 830 .D4 T53 - Detective Fiction and the Rise of Forensic Science - Ronald R. Thomas examines advances in science and technology which changed how crimes were solved. How did Philip's methods of observation compare? Marlowe?

Finding Scholarly articles in Databases

Librarian Talk . . . About Finding Journal and Newspaper Articles!

Electronic databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. To find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more, use your updated library card barcode number to login to the following databases. If you find an interesting article that is not full-text, please give the correct bibliographic information to our Reference Librarians and they will see that you get the article. They will need full bibliographic information - and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if they need to. There is some overlap of articles in the following databases. However, we encourage you to use more than one. All are excellent sources for this topic. 

HINT: For a full list of article databases, go to and use the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to login from off-campus.
More about searching databases (25 sec.)

Project Muse  This scholarly database is completely full text (whole articles) and will provide many articles on Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, noir novels, and hard-boiled fiction.  Begin your search by entering the title of the novel in the search box in quotation marks.  Use the limiters on the left side of the screen to focus your search to Journals, full access (complete articles), or research areas. You can modify a search to add keywords from your thesis - click on the + mark to add search boxes.  This database is also entirely scholarly, so all articles will be of the appropriate academic level for your research.

JSTOR  A very large scholarly database with many full text articles.  Use the Advanced Search page for the best results. Limit your search to articles, and choose the discipline Language and Literature to focus the results.

Literature Resource Center   The literary database contains overviews of The Long Goodbye, and Chandler's entire body of work, as well as information on noir novels and hard-boiled crime fiction.  Be aware that there are some sources in this database which are not complete or full text scholarly criticism.

Academic Search Complete   This multi-subject database contains scholarly journals and other sources on Chandler and his work.  Use the Advanced Search screen for the best results, and limit you search to scholarly, full text articles to find the best sources.

History Study Center  For more information on the history of crime in the United States, try this database.  An excellent sample search uses the keywords crime United States. The first three of the study units are: Organised Crime in the US; American society and culture from 1918-1945; and crime and criminal justice in the US from 1865 to 1999. These units will give you great background.  This database offers many types of resources within the units - original documents, images, video if it is available, journal articles and more.

Literature Resource Center  Search for journal articles, critical essays, work overviews & summaries, and biographies on Raymond Chandler.

Reference Databases
Biography Reference Bank Search for biographical history about Raymond Chandler. 

Bloom's Literary Reference Online  This database contains essays and criticism examining the lives of great authors, like Raymond Chandler and his works.

Gale Literary Databases Search Raymond Chandler in the Contemporary Literary Criticism Select and Dictionary of Literary Biography simultaneously.

The History of the Mystery - How does The Long Goodbye fit in?

Book cover of the Long GoodbyeSir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) was the first to use science to track down criminals. Before this time, critical thinking and deductive reasoning alone solved crimes in mystery books. Knowing about poisons, blood splatters, ballistics, trace evidence and other forensic scientific methods added a new dimension to this genre. Edward Ricciuti states in Forensics: Science 101, "The popularity of forensics today reflects the reality that science has truly become integral to successful police work." Two interesting points should be made about the mystery novel. First, the accurate use of forensics, technology and inventions is important to the writing. Readers today want accuracy in their writing. Ready access to the Internet and other research resources make it easy to check facts and statistics. If an author today writes a mystery novel set at an earlier time, they better be sure the forensics they use were invented at that time. Using a lie detector before 1950 would elicit mounds of email to the publisher and author. The second point, is that what is happening in the world or the country deeply effects what people read. For example, books with spies as protagonists were popular during the fifties and sixties - in response to the red scare and organized crime. In today's fast moving - global economy, mysteries with international settings and ones actually written and translated from other languages are popular.

The English classic mystery made popular in England during the 1920s reflects the nostalgia people felt for the past. Times were changing too quickly; WWI ended, women were working in large numbers for the first time, and automobiles were largely responsible for ending the fortnight trips to country homes. So, Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, and others became hugely popular setting their mysteries in country estate mysteries where all suspects were gathered together and a 'little' (almost bloodless) murder happened. Red herrings, clues, and alibis were introduced to these puzzle mysteries. The elements included: fool the reader, yet play fair, amateur detective (Miss Marple), little murder often happening before the story began, enclosed setting, mystery always solved, and a morality play.

At the same time in America, prohibition, gangsters, growth in population from the industrial age, immigration, and other factors were changing the demographics large cities. Writers like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, John MacDonald, and Erle Stanley Garner created the detective mystery, using the Private Investigator as hero. The elements of these stories included: realism (all set in large cities), social issues, PI is the modern day knight, code of conduct: PI not afraid of committing crimes (even murder) to right the wrong he sees, jaundiced view of government, law vs. justice, generate the smell of fear, and they were routed in the vernacular - living language of the streets.

Take a look at the chart below, and discover for yourself whether it proves my point about readers, genre, and the times.




 Social History


Introduced in court




Foundations built - elements established by Edgar A. Poe, Wilkie Collins, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Civil War in America

Class Struggle

Monopolies | Robber Barons| Westward Movement| Immigration | Wild West

1776 Dental ID (Rev. War)

1804 Medico-legal Institute (U of Vienna)

1840-1870 mug shots, crime scene, post mortem photos

1837 Typewriter in use

1850 Pinkerton Agency

1882 first book on fingerprinting

1888 Machine gun

1870 document authenticity - handwriting

1845 New York Police Force

1860 Collins’ Woman in White
1860 Dime Novel – Escapist Novels
1872 Fireside Companion – Detective Novel Series in pulp magazines

Sherlock Holmes - side kick, arch rival, outwitting the police

Western pulp fiction - short stories, detective stories of 20s developed from these.


1900-20  Early Romantic Suspense

(Had I But Known genre)

Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote the earliest Romantic Suspense, following the 'bodice rippers' of the late 19th century.

Progressive / Populist Movements
Ocean Liners- Recreation - Titanic
Immigration | Industrial age had brought many to the city for jobs


1920 18th Amendment- prevent alcohol

Child labor Labor Unions

Religious tent meetings - and - Vaudeville

FBI  Special Agents 
Britain – Scotland Yard
Wireless telegraph
Scientific Crime lab at Berkeley
Firearm ID
Widespread use of Fingerprinting  
1910 Pulp Magazines – Escapist Short Stories,
1915 Pulp Magazine – Detective Stories
1903 The Great Train Robbery - first full length film
1920-39 England Golden Age of Mystery ENGLAND: Puzzle Classic

England – depression
Nostalgia Amid Social Chaos
End of fortnight country estate visits
Anti-Social Struggle
Communism, Nazism, Fascism
Upper/Middle Class Books
Lending (Two-Penny) Libraries
Missing ‘the good old days’


"No one named Lefty has EVER appeared in an English classic mystery." ~Raymond Chandler

1910-1930 Automobiles became more affordable for all.
Paperbacks available for everyone - more readers

1922 Mary Roberts Rinehart – Best Seller 1935 Paperback   

Colliers & Others add Mystery Stories

1928  Detection Club (puzzle)

1929  S.S. Van Dine – Best Seller List number 1 Rebecca 

Films – Agatha Christie and others

1920-39 America

AMERICA: Detective Novel Hard-Boiled Detective

Economic Depression
Prohibition / Speakeasies
Jazz Age
Violent period of lawlessness
Harlem Renaissance
Gangsters as heroes - Al Capone and others
Language of gangsters in cities "Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid... He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man ... He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world." ~Raymond Chandler

Ballistics  |  Tommy Gun  |  Wireless Photo
Human Blood Groups
Aircraft Detecting Radar
Paraffin tests – gun residue
1920 Firearms ID acceptance in trials
Dental ID accepted in court
Accident Reconstruction

Pulp Monthly “The Black Mask"
1915-1950 over 200 Mystery Detective pulps
Circulation in 1924, Half A Million

Film Noir – 40s And 50s  Maltese Falcon, Big Sleep
Radio  -  G-Men, Public Enemy – Sam Spade
Movies – 90 Million Wkly Attendance (1930)
1931  Maltese Falcon
1935 Dick Tracy
1936 The Shadow, Gang Busters
 1940 End Of Golden Age of Mysteries

WWII -. Detective novel still popular. Classic puzzle, too, but no new genre during this time. Changing world. Radio was very popular and mysteries played weekly - including Sam Spade, which was wildly popular.

Spy Trial – Alger Hiss

Holocaust awareness
Change Of World Order / Us & USSR Powers
Class system changing after wars
Women in workplace

Communication revolution - radio, typewriter, travel, speed, planes,etc

Simplified Microscope
Atomic Bomb
DNA accepted as basic genetic material
Jet Plane

Chester Himes – Black Mystery Author
1945 Mystery Writers of America (Edgar, Grand Master)

Radio Thriller / Drama / Mystery The Thin Man, Stella Dallas, Sam Spade


My name is Bond, James Bond!

Red Scare – McCarthyism | Blacklisting | Communism
Organized Crime grows
Korean War |  Cold War  |  Conservative Politics


FBI Loyalty Checks
H Bomb
Poloroid Camera
Communist Develop A-Bomb
DNA – Double Helix Model
Boeing 707 Jet
First Atomic-Powered Submarine
USSR Launches Sputnik
NASA Organized
Photofit  ID – London
BAC – Blood Concentration in Alcohol
Voice Comparisons
Lie Detector

1953 Crime Writers Assn  (Gold and Silver Daggers)
1953 – 1967  Manhunt Magazine – Hard Boiled
Pocket Books
1952 FBI Publishes Public Enemy List

Bond!– James Bond! by Ian Fleming

Death Of The Pulp Magazines

Perry Mason, Dragnet - Television

 1960 Romantic Suspense

Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote the earliest romantic suspense novel. They followed the 'gothic bodice rippers' of the latter 19th century.

Feminism, Hippies, Youth Power
Peace / Student Movement
Racism / Integration
Kennedy/King Assassinations
Drug Use Increased

Berlin Wall built

Space Program
Laser, Digital Display (Calculators)
Airplane Hi-Jacking (?)
Telstar – Transatlantic TV
Nuclear Reactor – Jersey Power Plant
Microchips – Word Processors – no longer able to document type
Man On Moon
Interpol seminar on scientific aspects of police work
Blood splatters  (predict events from splatters)
Identi-Kit (visual likeness)
  The Defenders

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.


The Avengers

I Spy



Espionage & Romantic Suspense continue - this was a very quiet time for the mystery novel.

Cold War
Gas Shortages
SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty)     Gold prices soared

Personal Computer
Microchip Age
Videotape as evidence in court 
Lie detectors - polygraph - used in court

1970 Boucheron Committee (Anthony)
Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, Frederick Forsyth, 
Robert Ludlum

Macmillan and Wife



Barnaby Jones


Police Story

Rockford Files

Police Woman



 1980 2nd Golden Age
Cozy (Classic)
Cook, book collectors, and other hobbies for detectives
Medical Thriller
Legal Thriller
Series were HUGE

Detective lives become important to readers  (Kinsey Millhone)

White Collar Crime
Drug Trafficking
Law Suits
Environment Issues

Evidence of ID – shoeware, etc.
Highly trained detectives, Educated PIs

DNA profiling tests announced

Second Golden Age of Mysteries
1981 Private Eye Writers Assn  (Shamus
1986 Sisters in Crime
1986 Int’l Association Crime Writers (Hammett)
15 books on Best Seller List – 7 are mysteries


Hill Street Blues



Thematic Cozy
Tech/ Industrial Espionage
Historical Mysteries
International  settings, translations of mysteries from foreign writers

Immigration growth
Gulf War – Iraq and Afghanistan
Nostalgia strong in US
Terrorism in the US
Computer Fraud
Corporate Espionage
Third World
Global Economy                       

Energy Crisis


Digital Cameras
Advanced DNA, accepted in court
Internet and other Technology
Forensic software analysis
College Courses in Forensics
Sophisticated murder site forensics CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)
Electronic Banking
eReaders                                                social media

Mysteries have their own best seller list in the NYTimes  & other newspapers.

Internet – author & publisher websites

Internet publishing & Marketing
Reality Programs
CSI, Espionage shows popular
Legal Shows
Police Shows





pw revised 2011



Librarian Talk . . . About the Internet!

The Internet will be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you do want to find reputable sites. Look at:

  1. Accuracy - The information should be researched and show proof that it has been.
  2. Source - Who wrote the information? Look at the domain. Most but not all .edu .gov. org .net are valid research sources.
  3. Authority - What are the author's credentials?  (Don't quote from another college freshman's paper.)
  4. Coverage - Does the page have the information you need for your research?
  5. Objectivity - If a work is biased, use it - just make sure your professor knows YOU know. And offer both sides of issues, where applicable.
More about finding internet sources (25 sec.)

The internet can be a valuable resource for your paper.  Be aware that all web pages are not suitable for scholarly research. Consider the accuracy of the information, the source of the information, the credentials of the author, and the relevance of the information to your research. If you are in doubt, ask your instructor.  

The Edgar Award  for best mystery novels is given to authors of distinguished work in various categories of the genre. The award is given to one author every year by the Mystery Writers of American association. Raymond Chandler won the Award in 1955 for The Long Goodbye.

Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization fo mystery writers, professional allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre.

Murder by the Book is a one of the nation's oldest and largest mystery specialty bookstores. Located in Rice Village: 2342 Bissonnet.

The New York Times Books, R. W. Lewis reviewed Chandler's The Long Goodbye June 22, 1997.  

The Crime Museum or the National Museum of Crime and Punishment Is a great place to see the history of forensic science and how the FBI solves cases. 

The Spy Museum Not far from the White House in Washington D.C., is a very special museum devoted to intrigue in the international and political arenas.  Spies who dug for secrets weren't far from their earlier incarnation as detectives. 

Modern mystery and thriller writers have been inspired by Chandler's books. Listen to Michael Connelly's talk from the 2009 National Book Festival.

Pocket watchSupport: getting help for your paper

Librarian Talk about getting help!

Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor; use your LSC Online in-class email to contact her.

More about getting help (25 sec.)

Citing Sources Using MLA Style | Lone Star College-Kingwood Library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.  

Avoiding Plagiarism  |   Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.

University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.

The Learning Center   |   Check the TLC hours for in-house tutoring.

MM 9/13

Original assignment guide was made for The Maltese Falcon-Dashiell Hammett. Created by Becky Bradley and Peggy Whitley,  last edited 12/2012

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