Philip Marlowe returns to the Sternwood mansion in the hills of Los Angeles, having been called by Norris, the butler. Marlow finds the older daughter, Vivian, still resides there and still dating gangster Eddie Mars but her younger sister Carmen, still tormented by the events of the original story, has been sent off to live at Resthaven, a psychiatric rehabilitation facility. When Carmen disappears from there, Marlowe is hired to find her.
As most people will know, I’m a huge Raymond Chandler fan, and I think Philip Marlowe is such a great character. I was a little concerned to see that Robert B. Parker was authorised to write a sequel to The Big Sleep. As far as I can see, he butchered the character, the series and it just was torture to read. Parker is something of an expert with all things to do with Chandler, having been hired to complete the 1958 unfinished Chandler novel; Poodle Springs. But being an expert doesn’t mean he can write like Chandler nor do any justice to Marlowe.
Parker’s take on Philip Marlowe is a disaster; I found none of the wit remained and as a Private investigator, he was a bit of a lightweight. The attempt at nostalgia turns into an unequivocally puerile attempt at Chandler’s coolly sardonic narrative. Chandler’s plots are like a shadowy figure in the background, making it difficult for the reader to predict just what will happen but Parker’s plot is thrown at the reader and nothing is surprising.
Hugely unnecessary, Perchance to Dream adds no significance to the series and is just pointless. While I want to read more of Marlowe’s adventures, if they are anything like this, it’s not worth it. I’m sure I can find fan-fic with better character development and plotting than this attempt at another Philip Marlowe novel. This is the only Robert B. Parker novel I’ve read and with the damage he’s done to my beloved Marlowe, I don’t think I would want to read anything by him again.