The Second Murderer

Little, Brown. Aug. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780316265645. $28. M
Scottish novelist Mina (Confidence; The Less Dead) effortlessly segues into Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles with this perfectly rendered Philip Marlowe noir. She has the world-weary, florid voice of Chandler’s P.I. down pat as he narrates the bewildering case of a missing heiress, Chrissie Montgomery, and puzzles over a previous case involving the murder of a brokedown cowboy extra named Pasco Pete. He dislikes his client, Chrissie’s cold, contemptuous father, and is mystified by the man’s secretary, who appears to be his punching bag. Marlowe is also beguiled by P.I. Anne Riordan, who once wanted to be part of his agency but now runs a sleuthing service of her own. Riordan’s been hired by Mr. Montgomery as well, so it becomes a race to find Chrissie. Their investigations, together and apart, take them to all the worst places in L.A., and to a murder in a skid-row hotel. The tropes, the mise-en-scène, the unforgettable characters, the convoluted, Chandler-esque plot—they’re all here, with Mina’s creative, timely-but-not-anachronistic touches.
VERDICT Fans of the original books (and movies) starring Marlowe will appreciate his return; those who like re-creations of classics, such as the HBO Perry Mason series starring Matthew Rhys and Juliet Rylance, will enjoy this outing and hope for more Marlowe and Riordan adventures from Mina.
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