Playback by Raymond Chandler (1958)

He stuck a pill in his kisser and lit it with a Ronson. After purging himself by writing at great length about alcoholics with a grudge against the modern world in The Long Goodbye, Chandler’s final novel is his shortest and most focused. I’d read that it was his weakest and nearly didn’t bother to read […]

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (1953)

‘I need a drink,’ Spencer said. ‘I need a drink badly.’ (The Long Goodbye Chapter 42) This is a long book about alcohol and alcoholics. At 464 pages in the current Penguin edition, The Long Goodbye is by some margin the longest of Chandler’s novels. There is the same tough guy attitude as in the earlier novels, […]

The Lady in The Lake by Raymond Chandler (1944)

Fictions offer escape. Through figures in the story, through their actions and thoughts, we readers live vicariously, acting out lives and experiences we’ll never have in our ordinary safe existences. In the crudest genres male readers identify with triumphant heroes, with James Bond or Jason Bourne, while women maybe project themselves into attractive heroines or […]

The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler (1949)

1. The artificial world of films and acting Previous Chandler novels referred to their characters putting on acts, behaving like they’re in a B-movie, copying mannerisms from mobsters in the movies and so on. The Little Sister takes this theme to a new level. This was the first novel Chandler wrote after a spell working […]

Eye imagery in ‘The High Window’ and ‘The Little Sister’ by Raymond Chandler

Chandler’s characters are all acting All Raymond Chandler’s novels dwell on the way the cops, crooks and dames in his mythical noir Los Angeles landscape are more or less consciously acting a part. The texts regularly describe almost all the characters as playing up to roles they’ve set themselves, or modelling their behaviour on the actors they’ve […]

The High Window by Raymond Chandler (1942)

A lot of smart conversation, full of worldliness and sly wit. (Chapter 7) Being a hard-boiled tough guy in these books seems to involve an awful lot of posing, a lot of acting the part, a lot of knowing that you’re acting the part, and a lot of judging how other people are acting their […]

Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (1940)

‘For a private dick you certainly have a wandering kind of mind.’ (Chapter 24) Chandler’s second novel is significantly longer than the first – 41 chapters agaist 32, 200 pages of dense type compared to 160. More happens and a lot of that more is Marlowe getting beaten up: he is knocked unconscious twice, strangled, […]

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

Haven’t read Chandler since school. I’d forgotten how very literary he is, how artful and contrived the prose is – from the era between the wars which, after all, saw an explosion of Modernist experimentation with prose. And that these books are essentially comedies. The way the plot serves up contrived scenes made of confrontations […]

Basket Case by Carl Hiaasen (2002)

The pros and cons of a first person narrator Well, this is an oddity, a Carl Hiaasen novel told in the first person. His previous eight comedy crime novels were all told in the voice of a gung-ho, whip-smart, third-person narrator. This one is a departure and an experiment and I didn’t like it nearly […]

Skin Tight by Carl Hiaasen (1989)

‘This is the worst year of my life, and it’s only the seventeenth of January.’ (Private investigator Mick Stranahan, Skin Tight, page 134) Skin Tight is the third of Carl Hiaasen’s scathing and savagely satirical depictions of the corruption, greed and environmental destruction infesting his home state of Florida. If its predecessor, Double Whammy‘s central […]