I added this book to my reading list some time after reading a ranking of Chandler's Marlowe books in order of "good," and this one wasn't first, but it is the first book of the series.
After checking this book out from the library, I found a nicely bound hardcover in a bookstore. Instead of reading the library version, I've been reading the paper version. Turns out, I've seen the movie, and recall much of it. The first 25% of the book matches the film well. We'll see if it stays that way, I'll be watching the movie again shortly.
I really enjoyed this book. Helps that I've lived in Los Angeles. While my residency was not in the late thirties, the world that Chandler describes is vivid enough, and based on real enough places, that I could visualize the story very well.
Unsurprisingly, most of the supporting characters are one-dimensional, Silver-Wig loves her man, until she realizes he's a killer, for example. Mars is a tough guy, willing to do most things for a dollar, and smart enough to have someone else do those things.
Marlowe, however, has more character. He's the hero of the story, we follow him around, we see more of his motivations, so unsurprisingly we understand him better. Seems reasonable that someone who wants to solve puzzles and understands a bit about human character would become a private investigator.
Unrelated, there is a lot of "kissing people you just met" in this book, but no actual sex. I didn't realize that people kissed so much in Los Angeles. I clearly did L.A. wrong.
I enjoyed the book. I enjoyed all the one-line and otherwise short zingers, and the snappy dialog. I'll likely continue reading the series.
"If I sound a little sinister as a parent, Mr. Marlowe, it is because my hold on life is too slight to include any Victorian hypocrisy."
“I need not add that a man who indulges in parenthood for the first time at the age of fifty-four deserves all he gets.”
Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
"Sure you can’t help me on this?"
I liked his putting it that way. It let me say no without actually lying.
Not being bullet proof is an idea I had had to get used to.
He was afraid of the police, of course, being what he is, and he probably thought it a good idea to have the body hidden until he had removed his effects from the house.
"Being what he is," which would be gay. I appreciate the progress we have made as a culture, in many ways. We have further to go.
Cops get very large and emphatic when an outsider tries to hide anything, but they do the same things themselves every other day, to oblige their friends or anybody with a little pull.
"You’ll hear from him."
"Too late will be too soon," I said,
I read all three of the morning papers over my eggs and bacon the next morning. Their accounts of the affair came as close to the truth as newspaper stories usually come—as close as Mars is to Saturn.
“What makes you think I’m doing anything for him?”
I didn’t answer that.
Then my eyes adjusted themselves more to the darkness and I saw there was something across the floor in front of me that shouldn’t have been there. I backed, reached the wall switch with my thumb and flicked the light on.
The bed was down.
HUH. Marlowe has a Murphy bed, too!
I’m your friend. I won’t let you down—in spite of yourself.
I threw my cigarette on the floor and stamped on it.
A significantly different world. There are many references to cigar and cigarette ash being allowed to fall into the rug.
It seemed a little too pat. It had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact.
There was a tarnished and well-missed spittoon on a gnawed rubber mat.
Again, different world.
“It’s very funny,” she said breathlessly. “Very funny, because, you see—I still love him. Women—” She began to laugh again.
What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.