All reviews copyright 1984-2015 Evelyn C. Leeper.
THE LITTLE SISTER by Raymond Chandler:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 12/01/2006]
I read THE LITTLE SISTER by Raymond Chandler (ISBN 0-394-75767-X) because I had listened to the BBC adaptation. It turns out the BBC kept a lot of Chandler's distinctive writing, but simplified the end. (Of course, with Chandler many people would say the attraction is the writing, not the plot.) It is ironic that Chandler is so well known and influential, since he wrote only seven novels and less than two dozen short stories. But they are all classics.
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THE LONG GOODYE by Raymond Chandler:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 07/20/2012]
THE LONG GOODBYE by Raymond Chandler (ISBN 978-0-394-75768-1) is a classic hard-boiled detective story to be read slowly so as to savor Chandler's use of language: "I went out to the kitchen to make coffee--yards of coffee. Rich, strong, bitter, boiling hot, ruthless, depraved. The lifeblood of tired men."
Or, "Off to my left was an empty swimming pool, and nothing ever looks emptier than an empty swimming pool."
One character talks about what the public wants from books: "I've got five hundred pages of typescript here, well over a hundred thousand words. My books run long. The public likes long books. The damn fool public thinks if there's a lot of pages there must be a lot of gold."
And there is Chandler's take on law enforcement:
I got up slowly and went over to the bookshelves. I took down the bound copy of the California Code. I held it out to Dayton.
"Would you kindly find me the section that says I have to answer the questions?"
He said: "Every citizen has to co-operate with the police. In all ways, even by physical action, and especially by answering any questions of a non-incriminating nature the police think it necessary to ask." His voice saying this was hard and bright and smooth.
"It works out that way." I said. "Mostly by a process of direct or indirect intimidation. In law no such obligation exists. Nobody has to tell the police anything, any time, anywhere."
[Of course, Marlowe ends up in the holding cells for three days, which neatly sums up what was--and still is--the difference between the law in theory and the law in practice.]
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PLAYBACK by Raymond Chandler:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 09/26/2008]
PLAYBACK by Raymond Chandler (ISBN-13 978-0-394-75766-7, ISBN-10 0-394-75766-1) is the seventh and last Philip Marlowe novel. Written in 1958, well after the other six (THE BIG SLEEP, FAREWELL MY LOVELY, THE HIGH WINDOW, THE LADY OF THE LAKE, THE LITTLE SISTER, and THE LONG GOODBYE--and, yes, he wrote them all in alphabetical order!), it is, alas, a pale shadow of Chandler's peak. It is remarkable to realize that Chandler's reputation is based on such a small number of novels, but then Jane Austen only wrote six novels and Oscar Wilde's reputation as a dramatist is based on nine plays, of which only five have achieved classic status.
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POODLE SPRINGS by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker:
[From "This Week's Reading", MT VOID, 08/09/2013]
POODLE SPRINGS by Raymond Chandler and Robert B. Parker (ISBN 978-0-425-12343-0) was Chandler's last novel, finished after his death by Parker. It has the somewhat convoluted plot that one expects from Chandler, but frankly, having Marlowe married to Linda Loring (from THE LONG GOODBYE) is a misstep on someone's part. It may give Marlowe additional connections to the people involved in his latest case, but that just emphasizes the artificiality of it all. The writing is Chandleresque, but it lacks that spark that Chandler's best works have.
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