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Chandler is not only the best writer of hardboiled PI stories, he's one of the 20th century's top scribes, period. His full canon of novels and short stories is reprinted in trade paper featuring uniform covers in Black Lizard's signature style. A handsome set for a reasonable price. Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
'Anything Chandler writes about grips the mind from the first sentence' Daily Telegraph 'One of the greatest crime writers, who set the standards others still try to attain' Sunday Times 'Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence' - Ross Macdonald
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Postwar L.A. -- and especially Hollywood -- is the setting for Chandler's fifth Marlowe novel which, like the time and place (and the author himself), is a little "off." Marlowe's beginning to tire, his loneliness is a bit more apparent, and the disillusionment has started to etch permanent lines on him. None of which stops him. Neither does it make "The Little Sister" a bad work. In fact, it holds up remarkably well alongside Chandler's first four novels. Chandler draws upon contemporary events and personages for much of his inspiration here (something he did in several earlier stories and novels, to a lesser degree); the photo which triggers the action in "Sister," for example, is based on an incident involving gangster Bugsy Siegel . . . but then the character of Steelgrave, himself, bears a more than passing resemblance to the then-recently deceased hood. It's equally evident that Chandler relied upon his recent screenwriting experience (and exposure to Paramount and Universal studios) for material and characters. There's an element of gleeful revenge, I suspect, for example, in the character of agent Sheridan Ballou: certain characteristics, such as his tendency to strut up and down his office twirling a mallaca cane, can only have been inspired by director/screenwriter Billy Wilder (with whom Chandler, collaborating on the screenplay for "Double Indemnity," shared an entirely mutual loathing). Other characters, primarily a pair of mismatched thugs sent to intimidate Marlowe, are pure burlesque; Chandler appears to be simply indulging himself here (while he simultaneously manages yet another dig at the movie industry).Read more ›
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The latest in a long series of visits to LA had me refreshing my memory of one of my favourite novelists. As a young man I knew the Philip Marlowe books nearly by heart before I ever set foot in the city they put on the literary map. I have always thought that Chandler counts as literature not just as crime fiction. He was a professed admirer of the ultra-craftsman Flaubert, and it shows in the way he works at every sentence, indeed every word. He was English and as far as I know unrelated to the 'real' LA Chandlers (he attended the same school as P G Wodehouse, if you can believe it). He maintained that 'the American language' can say anything and in The Simple Art of Murder he took a brilliant potshot at the Agatha Christie school of English crime fiction , all tight-lipped butlers polishing the georgian silver and respectful upper-middles gathered to hear the amateur master-sleuth analyse over 5 or 6 pages which of them dunnit. His power of creating atmosphere is phenomenal, his dialogue is legendary, and for me The Little Sister is the best of the 7 Marlowes. It's at the crest of the hill, before he started to lose concentration in The Long Goodbye and lost just about everything in the sad Playback. I can still feel the heavy heat at the start of the book, and the dialogue is the best he ever did. Is there any other instance of anyone silencing Marlowe with an answer the way the beat-up hotel dick does when Marlowe tells him he is going up to room such-and-such and the hotel dick says 'Am I stopping you?'. And I cherish the bit about the same character tucking his gun into his waistband 'in an emergency he could probably have got it out in less than a minute'.Read more ›
Phillip Marlowe receives a visit from Orfamay Quest. She came from Kansas to track down her brother Orrin; he moved to Los Angeles a year earlier and has stopped writing home. Marlowe visits Orrin's last address, a rooming house in the seedy part of town. The room now contains G. W. Hicks, who is moving out, and knows nothing. When Marlowe leaves, he notices the manager is now dead! Later Marlowe receives a phone call, hiring him for a job. When Marlowe shows up at the hotel room, he finds a dead G. W. Hicks, killed with an ice pick like the rooming house manager. Somebody searched the room, but Marlowe found what they missed. The Police are called again. Marlowe uses the claim check to retrieve photographic prints. The hotel detective noticed a woman visitor, and gives Marlowe her license plate number. Now the investigation continues into new territory.
The story echoes "Farewell, My Lovely" and other stories. A private detective is hired to find somebody. The client doesn't tell the Whole Truth. Coincidences and complications pop up to carry the story forward. The Whole Truth isn't revealed until the last pages, and the final deaths which tie up the story without loose ends. Again, the scandals and crimes that created the murders aren't revealed until the end. There are only shades of gray, no blacks and white. All the characters have something to hide. A recurring theme in Chandler's stories is that crime leads to blackmail, and blackmail leads to murder. Can a snapshot of a couple at a restaurant result in six dead bodies? Chandler makes it believable.
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