Only to Sleep by Lawrence Osborne

Only to Sleep

Lawrence Osborne

Set between the border and badlands of Mexico and California, Lawrence Osborne's resurrection of the iconic Marlowe is an unforgettable addition to the Raymond Chandler canon.

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Lawrence Osborne brings one of literature's most enduring detectives back to life – as Private Investigator Philip Marlowe returns for one last adventure.

The year is 1988. The place, Baja California. And Philip Marlowe – now in his seventy-second year – is living out his retirement in the terrace bar of the La Fonda hotel. Sipping margaritas, playing cards, his silver-tipped cane at the ready. When in saunter two men dressed like undertakers, with a case that has his name written all over it.   

For Marlowe, this is his last roll of the dice, his swan song. His mission is to investigate the death of Donald Zinn – supposedly drowned off his yacht, and leaving behind a much younger and now very rich wife. But is Zinn actually alive? Are the pair living off the spoils?

Set between the border and badlands of Mexico and California, Lawrence Osborne’s resurrection of the iconic Marlowe is an unforgettable addition to the Raymond Chandler canon.

Advance Galley Reviews

It's been decades since I have read a Marlowe novel. This one has a slower pace than I recall of the originals. I felt the plot, while possible, just took a long time to get to the important points. Marlowe seemed to have lost his edge. He went some places and entered some dangerous situations that did not seem very smart to me. Marlowe is a dark character sloshing in alcohol. I had hoped he would at least be a moral character, doing the right thing when called upon. He was not. With the slow pace and unlikable Marlowe, had this been my first novel about Marlowe, I would not have read another. Going into Mexico was interesting. Osborne did a good job of taking readers into the scenes with good descriptions. Ultimately this novel seemed to be more about Mexico in the 1980s than it did about Marlowe. I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

This was a great story, a winding detective plot through Mexico, around corner after corner. And as we round each corner, another old gringo awaits us. Lots and lots of old men, old rakes, old criminals, charming and dangerous. This is the country for old men. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, but I can't answer to whether it's true to the Marlowe tradition -- I haven't read the Marlowe books, but I'm interested to look into them now. It certainly has an air of a previous generation, a previous pattern of thought -- the casual sexism, the central young, beautiful woman (somehow no old women live among these old men) and other young women, maids, along the way. But if we can brush that aside, it's a good meandering story. No chase scenes, little action, but lots of intrigue. And all the references to his age of music and culture were charming. The story is geography-heavy. He wanders all over Mexico, and it would help to have a little familiarity with that country. The locales, why he keeps hearing Nahuatl, a little Spanish, all help to enjoy the richness. I really only got lost once -- his visit to San Diego was so full of neighborhoods and insider info that I was a bit bewildered. And of course there were several references to old cases that flew over my head but that fans of Philip Marlowe might enjoy. All in all, a good, fun read. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

Well, I guess you have to say that the author held true to Chandler's style. That means that this reads more like a rumination on retiring, getting old, and losing one's place in the world than it does like a murder mystery -- or even like a story. There are characters that come and go, there is a vague reference to a plot line, but mostly it's about Marlowe thinking about what it means to be old and retired. Not uninteresting, but if you are looking for an old-fashioned murder-mystery, this isn't it.

Book Description In this brilliant new novel, commissioned by the Raymond Chandler estate, the acclaimed author Lawrence Osborne gives us a piercing psychological study of one of literature's most beloved and enduring detectives, told with a contemporary twist. It is an unforgettable addition to the Raymond Chandler canon. My Thoughts I am always intrigued when a new author attempts to continue writing about a legacy character. In this case, it is Philip Marlowe who is now retired, elderly and rather bored with his life. He isn't forgotten by all though since he is asked to investigate the apparent drowning of Donald Zinn in Mexico. Donald's widow will receive a large insurance payment if her husband is indeed deceased. A Mexican cremation and the man's financial issues have raised a red flag at his insurance company and Marlowe is hired for what will most likely be his last case. It is a Marlowe that I am both familiar with and didn't recognize at all. The author did a great job as far as the tone, dialogue, and setting but I am just not sure I wanted to think of Marlowe being possibly close to death and not the man he was in his prime. It isn't that this wasn't well written and engaging, because it was. For me, I just wish it wasn't the rather sad twilight years of Philip Marlowe. Thank you, Lawrence Osborne, and First to Read for the digital advanced readers' copy.

"Carnivals were where old man could shine a little behind their masks and pretend that their vital spirits still worked." In 1989, Philip Marlowe is now 72, retired, living in Baja and contemplating the ways things have changed, not for the better, from the 1950s. He has a bad leg and is not particularly robust, but when he is approached by a couple of insurance investigators he agrees to take on one last case. Donald Zinn drowned in Mexico, making his much younger widow, Dolores Araya, very wealthy. The investigators think that the details of Zinn's death may have been falsified and they want to know the truth. Marlowe may not have been their best choice for this mission. I've read several of the author's books and he is very good at both setting an atmosphere and creating morally ambiguous plots and characters, and he has accomplished that in this book. Marlowe winds up traveling through the out of the way places in Mexico that lure Americans who want to play and/or lose themselves. This book is a continuation of the Philip Marlowe series, acommissioned by the estate of Raymond Chandler. It's not necessary to have read any of the prior books. I wasn't looking forward to reading about old Marlowe. Mostly I just blocked out my memories of his younger self and treated this protagonist as a new character. That worked for me. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Philip Marlowe in his dotage is not a pretty picture. Then again, he's still snooping about in a world that isn't so pretty itself. That he maintains any sly wit is impressive. However, without his penchant for, and selfless skill at, falling for the femme fatale, there would be no story. He maintains that dream-like progression through the events of the case, a clue here and there pushing the narrative forward despite Marlowe's every effort to hold still and revel unimpressed in his own memories. The ending was foretold and spare and sad, satisfying only for its expected disappointment, or perhaps disappointing for its expected satisfaction. In that, this is indeed a good addition to the Marlowe legend.

This book is a cute mystery starring an aging detective who comes out of retirement to investigate a mysterious death for an insurance company that has already paid the claim. The action takes place primarily in different Mexican towns in the 1980s. The detective spends a lot of the novel reminiscing about his past glories and contemplating his own death. He is acutely aware of his own limitations and makes the audience aware as well. His physical limitations are not, however, accompanied by mental limitations as he is as sharp as ever. Over all, I enjoyed this book with one exception--the detective at hand is supposed to be the esteemed Philip Marlowe created by Raymond Chandler. I have mixed feelings about authors putting their own pens to the works and characters of other authors. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. In this case, it does not. Osborne's style and pacing are no match for Chandler. While the dialogue occasionally mirrors the witty clip of Chandler, for the most part the novel moves at a slower, almost bumbling pace. Perhaps Osborne has chosen this pace to match the pace of an aged detective. Perhaps he aged Marlowe so that the detective would match his writing style. Either way, experiencing the great Philip Marlowe in such a state of decline is a bit depressing. It is similar to seeing a band that you loved in your youth perform only to find that the lead singer no longer possesses the vocal skills that once drew you to the band in the beginning. I rated this book 4 out of 5 stars because it is still an enjoyable read, particularly if you can forget that the detective is supposed to be Marlowe. If you are looking for a fun read where an old man chases down a potential insurance fraud, you will find this one great. If you are looking for a Phillip Marlowe book that mirrors Chandler's style, read Robert B. Parker's takes on the sleuth.

Very descriptive book. I'm not sure I would go as far as saying he's brought back Marlowe but it was a good read. I felt it was a little short and I found a typo or two but still bit invoked memories of what used to be one of my favorite reads so I recommend it


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