(Philip Marlowe #1)

Chandler's first novel, published in 1939, introduces Philip Marlowe, a 38-year-old P.I. moving through the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930s. This classic case includes as characters a paralyzed California millionaire, his two psychotic daughters, plus blackmail, murder, corrupt wealth, secret vices, family scandal, and more.

“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.”

It's been ages since I've read an older detective driven novel, but this one was a nice way to break the ice back into the genre. It was highly rated, but I'd never heard of it before it became a group read. Apparently there's a movie too; what rock have I been under?

Philip Marlowe is an "honest" guy - blunt and brash in the face of authority. Like many detectives, he goes by his own moral code and street system. He doesn't stick fully to the letter of the law, especially when it comes to revealing things he should, but he does right by his clients (if it fits to do so) and his conscience. The other key players aren't stereotypical exactly - we do get an ice-cold dame who wants to twist men around her fingers, but the older and ailing client who hires Marlowe has some uniqueness twisted in him. There's some crazy characters in here too that give it that bizarre touch. Characters suit the plot well but not really in cookie-cutter molds. If they are rather typical, I try to remember that since this is an older book, it was probably fresher then.

“I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter evenings.”

The mystery part isn't shocking, but it is well thought out and it takes creative, patient paths to get there. Marlowe does have to actually investigate - he seldom sits back and thinks about the case - he's constantly moving on his feet and interrogating, witnessing messes, avoiding sticky violence himself, and pushing all the right buttons. So, pacing isn't bad, somethings always going on so the book flies by.

Raymond Chandler writes well and it's easy to suck into the written world he conjured up. It's definitely not politically correct, especially when it comes to comments on homosexuals and a little bit with Jews, but this was common of the time period it was written. I just find it kind of funny now, but then again I rarely choose to get offended much anything.

A good hardboiled detective type, complete with mafia type thugs, rich clients, questionable police associations and femme fatales.

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