Francesca Angelini in The Times:
Lawrence Osborne’s death certificate hangs above his desk. “Tuberculosis, 2009,” he says with a laugh over the phone from Bangkok. It is the legacy of an article he wrote about men who fake their deaths for insurance payouts. It’s not hard to see why Raymond Chandler’s estate approached him to write a Philip Marlowe sequel: between writing assignments in seedy, dangerous places and a career spent drinking his way around Poland, Paris, Tuscany, California, New York, Mexico, Morocco, Istanbul and Bangkok, he is a match for Marlowe when it comes to dark and thrilling encounters.
Yet his instinct was to say no. “You can never win with franchise books,” he says. “Even if you pull it off, fans are going to dump on you.” Osborne had idolised Chandler since he was young, but hadn’t forgotten how Robert B Parker was dismissed by Martin Amis in 1991 for turning Marlowe into “an affable goon”.
The story of the death certificate, though, had led Osborne to meet the model for Marlowe. “He was a retired private investigator living on the beach in a Thai village, making pizzas with a gun in his holster,” he recalls. “And I thought that if I based my Marlowe on him, and set the novel in a time and place I knew well, I could write something original, avoid pastiche.” He gave it a go. “It was like eating chocolate every day. And that’s not always the case when I’m writing, believe me. So, if people are going to piss on this, I don’t really care. I had fun with it.”