BBC Radio 4 broadcast a radio play adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye as part of its rerun of the series Classic Chandler.

For those who missed the broadcasts last time round, there is now a further opportunity to catch eight of Chandler’s novels either on the radio or through iPlayer. The series stars actor Toby Stephens (pictured) playing the super-hard-boiled private detective Philip Marlowe.

The Long Goodbye is a story about how Marlowe has to compromise his ethical duties as a ‘private dick’, by upholding the rule of law while trying to help a friend in need and solving mysterious killings.

He has to decide whether or not to assist a charismatic friend of his (Lennox) to escape over the border to Mexico. When deciding whether or not to help Lennox, he does not know the reason why Lennox is required to flee and nor does he want to.

Once Marlowe has helped Lennox, he discovers that Lennox is wanted for the murder of his wife. Marlowe finds himself arrested for helping Lennox flee the country. Lennox is later reported to have committed suicide and had confessed to his wife’s murder. Despite this, Marlowe continues to investigate the death of Lennox and his wife.

Meanwhile, Marlowe returns to his business as a gumshoe and is hired to investigate the disappearance of Roger Wade, a genius author with a drink problem. After Marlowe finds Wade and helps him with his rehabilitation, Wade is found murdered. Marlowe is accused of being the protagonist – and is again in peril with the law.

Somehow, over the course of the plot, a number of seemingly unconnected murders and suicides become inextricably linked. As with any Chandler novel, there are twists, turns and chicanes which mean that nothing (and nobody) is quite as straightforward as they seem.

Aside from the plot, what really makes this work as a slick and engaging radio play is the narration by Toby Stephens. His voice is Marlowe.

Nicholas Dent is an associate at Kingsley Napley