Thursday, March 03, 2011

Raymond Chandler obsession

Who knew that I would develop such a Raymond Chandler obsession through my reading for the Vintage Mystery Challenge? I tend to read British mysteries more often and I almost never read anything set in LA but here I am, still going. And I'll probably add extras on to my list, since I have the Library of America collection of his later novels checked out from the library right now.

Anyway, I enjoyed The Lady in the Lake because it took Marlowe out of the city a bit and had a more appealing member of law enforcement--Sheriff Jim Patton. He put up with Marlowe breaking into a suspect's house very well and didn't seem so bitter against private eyes. Maybe it had something to do with his age and his rural location. He even had a card on his car that said, "Voters, Attention! Keep Jim Patton Constable. He is too old to go to work." But he still proved to be a surprisingly good shot. Add to this the twisted plot that I thought I had an early insight into and then it seemed to be wrong but then turned out to be true but twisted way worse than I imagined--great stuff.

The Little Sister was a little tougher. Marlowe seems to have reached his low point in this novel--several times he says to himself, "You're not human tonight, Marlowe." He appears to be done with LA--he describes how he used to like it, before it became a "neon-lighted slum." Also, "Real cities have something else, some individual bony structure under the muck. Los Angeles has Hollywood--and hates it. It ought to consider itself damn lucky. Without Hollywood it would be a mail-order city. Everything in the catalogue you could get better somewhere else." I wonder what he would think of it today--is it just more of the same?

I found it interesting that the female character he seemed closest to in this novel wasn't the girl next door type this time but the hard, desperate, blonde movie star. One character even hinted that he was in love with her but it's so hard to tell with Marlowe--maybe that's why I keep reading more!


1. Sweet Danger by Margery Allingham
2. Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
3. The Chinese Parrot by Earl Derr Biggers
4. Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer
5. The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
6. something by Ellery Queen
7. Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
8. Singing in the Shrouds by Ngaio Marsh
9. Black Orchids by Rex Stout
10. The Silent Speaker by Rex Stout
11. The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor
12. The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing
13. The Old Man in the Corner by Baroness Orczy
14. The High Window by Raymond Chandler
15. The Lady in the Lake by Chandler
16. The Little Sister by Chandler
17. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (won't count for challenge because written in 1953)

4 comments:

Bev Hankins said...

Thanks for the reviews! I've got your updates posted on the progress site.

Marcia said...

Elena - Dan and I like to listen to old time radio on Sunday evenings and there's a detective show that comes on there frequently that features Marlowe. The name escapes me. I may have to look into reading some of the stories.

Sergio said...

I'm mad about Chandler and his novels and have been since I was a teenager - I hope you do get to blog on Chandler's two later novels as well - I thought the challenge was open to works published before 1960? That's why I chose Playback (1958) for my second choice
(http://bloodymurder.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/playback-1958-by-raymond-chandler/)

Elena said...

Thanks, Sergio! I hadn't realized that. Now I can count The Long Goodbye. I just finished Playback and I'm now in the middle of his screenplay for Double Indemnity.