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The Simple Art of Murder PDF, ePub eBook Contains Chandler's essay on the art of detective stories and a collection of 8 classic Chandler mysteries.

30 review for The Simple Art of Murder

  1. 4 out of 5

    Evgeny

    This is a collection of early short stories and an essay which gave the book its name. The latter is fairly short and its main idea is an argument for the virtues of a noir mystery as opposed to a traditional British one. Considering the fact that this comes from a guy who became a classic of the former even before his death and that he picked up some below the average examples of the latter, I agree. The stories themselves left me out cold for the most part. I can actually describe the plot in p This is a collection of early short stories and an essay which gave the book its name. The latter is fairly short and its main idea is an argument for the virtues of a noir mystery as opposed to a traditional British one. Considering the fact that this comes from a guy who became a classic of the former even before his death and that he picked up some below the average examples of the latter, I agree. The stories themselves left me out cold for the most part. I can actually describe the plot in practically all of them at once. A trouble starts involving a damsel in distress. A tough guy emerges (usually a PI or a good cop) who gets involved, gets knocked out, and shot at. It turns out the damsel in distress is a minor culprit which makes her a femme fatale. Everybody and their brother meet at the main villain place, a big shootout is insured. Everybody dies except for the tough guy with a heard of gold and the femme fatale who emerge unscratched; the latter escapes. The end. All of these tough guys come out somewhat wooden and nobody can hold a candle to Philip Marlowe who feels real. One short story deserves to be mentioned separately. Pearls Are a Nuisance is a humorous hard-boiled story; it is the only such story from the master of noir and I am actually glad he had not written more; humor is not his forte. His witty one-liners of Philip Marlowe are great and make this character come alive, but his is the only example where Chandler's humor works. None of the story is boring or bad however. The author really raised the standard of the genre so high in the later works that his own early writings look pale in comparison. The final rating is 3.5 stars. This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/964996...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    “I merely say that all reading for pleasure is escape, whether it be Greek, mathematics, astronomy, Benedetto Croce, or The Diary of the Forgotten Man. To say otherwise is to be an intellectual snob, and a juvenile at the art of living.” Four short stories of varying quality and an interesting, if grouchy, essay on the state of crime fiction in the 1930s. The titular essay is a very interesting read, Chandler discusses the popular British (and British styled) crime writers of the day and their fai “I merely say that all reading for pleasure is escape, whether it be Greek, mathematics, astronomy, Benedetto Croce, or The Diary of the Forgotten Man. To say otherwise is to be an intellectual snob, and a juvenile at the art of living.” Four short stories of varying quality and an interesting, if grouchy, essay on the state of crime fiction in the 1930s. The titular essay is a very interesting read, Chandler discusses the popular British (and British styled) crime writers of the day and their failings compared to himself and Dashiell Hammett. He criticises the plotting rather than the writing whilst stating an obvious preference for the more realistic prose of Hemmingway (and himself.) I was astounded to read that The Red House Mystery was an incredibly popular bestseller and yet despite being written by the creator of Winnie The Pooh faded in to obscurity. The short stories do not feature Marlowe and are a mixed bag but all interesting in parts. The final story is something quite remarkable considering the source and not something you would ever expect knowing what Chandler is famous for. Pearls Are a Nuisance is about an upper class detective in LA, who talks like he's out of a Jane Austen novel and is seemingly terrible at what he does. As a counterpoint to the opening essay it's a wonderful parody but it's also a highly enjoyable read on its own merits.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mizuki

    DNF-ed!!! As I had mentioned before, I DNF-ed more Raymond Chandler's novels than managing to finish them. Unluckily this is one of the DNF experiences. The writing and how Mr. Chandler described his characters and the harsh world of shady business deals, gangsters, corrupted cops and junkies are still brilliant, but the stories...............are just so boring. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood but I just couldn't focus on what is going on in the stories, so...2 stars only. A much better short stories DNF-ed!!! As I had mentioned before, I DNF-ed more Raymond Chandler's novels than managing to finish them. Unluckily this is one of the DNF experiences. The writing and how Mr. Chandler described his characters and the harsh world of shady business deals, gangsters, corrupted cops and junkies are still brilliant, but the stories...............are just so boring. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood but I just couldn't focus on what is going on in the stories, so...2 stars only. A much better short stories collection by Mr. Chandler: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jim Nesbitt

    The title is the same as Chandler's classic essay that redefined the detective novel, taking it out of the mannered parlors of English cozy mysteries and out of the hands of amateurs and slapping it in the middle of mean American streets where violence is a bloody but everyday affair and the detective is a loner with a code, but not necessarily a nice guy. Chandler, along with Hammett and Cain, invented the hard-boiled detective genre, which I consider an American art form.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler I'm not usually a fan of short story collections, preferring instead, something i can immerse myself in. Still i wanted to read this collection of 7 short stories by Raymond Chandler, partly because i adore Chandler's prose, but also because i wanted to see how he had arrived at the Marlowe character. Marlowe doesn't feature in any of these stories, though he seems to lurk around every corner. The sense i got from these stories, is that Chandler was tr The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler I'm not usually a fan of short story collections, preferring instead, something i can immerse myself in. Still i wanted to read this collection of 7 short stories by Raymond Chandler, partly because i adore Chandler's prose, but also because i wanted to see how he had arrived at the Marlowe character. Marlowe doesn't feature in any of these stories, though he seems to lurk around every corner. The sense i got from these stories, is that Chandler was trying out a number of characters & the sum of these & a number of other shorts printed in Black Mask Magazine, provided him with the character who would eventually morph into Phillip Marlowe. If you read this collection & you have read several of the Marlowe novels, you will notice several similarities to scenarios in the Marlowe oeuvre. It is well known Chandler cannibalized his short stories & cobbled them together for the Marlowe novels. There is, for instance, one story where a set of pearls are stolen. Reminiscent of the emerald theft in 'Farewell, My Lovely'. This in no way diminished my enjoyment of this collection. It's what i was expecting & in a way, i was gratified to find my expectations realized. There is, if anything, a little more wry humor in the shorts than found in the Marlowe novels. There is the same attention to detail we expect from Chandler, lending a cinematic feel to these stories, as indeed do the Marlowe novels. By the second story, i realized this collection would make an excellent movie in itself. Maybe not all 7 stories, but several of them at least. A number of vaguely connected vignettes. Not with the same actors, but with common minor roles; a newsboy on a corner; a beat cop, swinging his truncheon; a hot-dog vendor; a stuttering neon sign over a bar. There's something about Chandler's prose that makes me think of these things. I think it is the attention to detail. He does it so effortlessly. With any other writer it might be annoying, but Chandler pulls it off with aplomb. The fact he is writing in his own era helps. There's an authenticity to his stories that is really wonderful. A window into a distant past, not possible to duplicate today, when all we have is hindsight, our own era & the ability to look to the future. This book is worth reading for Chandler's introduction at the beginning of the book alone. Here's an extract from the end of his introduction: "In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honorable instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man's money dishonestly and no man's insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is this man's adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in." For anyone who has not read Raymond Chandler, this is an ideal introduction. And for those familiar with his work, but perhaps not so familiar with his short stories, the same applies. For anyone else i've not mentioned, just talk amongst yourselves. Here is a list of the stories in this collection: Spanish Blood I'll Be Waiting The King in Yellow Pearls Are a Nuisance Pickup on Noon Street Smart-Aleck Kill Guns at Cyrano's Nevada Gas It's 5 stars from me. Good reading!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carla Remy

    A collection of non Marlowe stories from pulps in the 1930s, starring an assortment of police officers, hotel dicks and I forget who. They are just okay. His 1950 Atlantic essay is pretty good. He basically puts down all genre and literature too. He makes fun of everyone who imitates him, but admits he imitates Hammett, and does have nice things to say about him.

  7. 5 out of 5

    J.

    An excerpt from the short story "I'll Be Waiting"..... At one o'clock in the morning, Carl, the night porter, turned down the last of three table lamps in the main lobby of the Windermere Hotel. The blue carpet darkened a shade or two and the walls drew back into remoteness. The chairs filled with shadowy loungers. In the corners were memories like cobwebs. Tony Reseck yawned. He put his head on one side and listened to the frail, twittery music from the radio room beyond a dim arch at the far An excerpt from the short story "I'll Be Waiting"..... At one o'clock in the morning, Carl, the night porter, turned down the last of three table lamps in the main lobby of the Windermere Hotel. The blue carpet darkened a shade or two and the walls drew back into remoteness. The chairs filled with shadowy loungers. In the corners were memories like cobwebs. Tony Reseck yawned. He put his head on one side and listened to the frail, twittery music from the radio room beyond a dim arch at the far side of the lobby. He frowned. That should be his radio room after one A.M. Nobody should be in it. That red-haired girl was spoiling his nights. The frown passed and a miniature of a smile quirked at the corners of his lips. He sat relaxed, a short, pale, paunchy, middle-aged man with long, delicate fingers clasped on the elk's tooth on his watch chain; the long delicate fingers of a sleightof-hand artist, fingers with shiny, molded nails and tapering first joints, fingers a little spatulate at the ends. Handsome fingers. Tony Reseck rubbed them gently together and there was peace in his quiet sea-gray eyes. The frown came back on his face. The music annoyed him. He got up with a curious litheness, all in one piece, without moving his clasped hands from the watch chain. At one moment he was leaning back relaxed, and the next he was standing balanced on his feet, perfectly still, so that the movement of rising seemed to be a thing perfectly perceived, an error of vision. He walked with small, polished shoes delicately across the blue carpet and under the arch. The music was louder. It contained the hot, acid blare, the frenetic, jittering runs of a jam session. It was too loud. The red-haired girl sat there and stared silently at the fretted part of the big radio cabinet as though she could see the band with its fixed professional grin and the sweat running down its back. She was curled up with her feet under her on a davenport which seemed to contain most of the cushions in the room. She was tucked among them carefully, like a corsage in the florist's tissue paper. She didn't turn her head. She leaned there, one hand in a small fist on her peach-colored knee. She was wearing lounging pajamas of heavy ribbed silk embroidered with black lotus buds. "You like Goodman, Miss Cressy?" Tony Reseck asked. The girl moved her eyes slowly. The light in there was dim, but the violet of her eyes almost hurt. They were large, deep eyes without a trace of thought in them. Her face was classical and without expression. She said nothing. Tony smiled and moved his fingers at his sides, one by one, feeling them move. "You like Goodman, Miss Cressy?" he repeated gently. "Not to cry over," the girl said tonelessly. Tony rocked back on his heels and looked at her eyes. Large, deep, empty eyes. Or were they? He reached down and muted the radio. "Don't get me wrong," the girl said. "Goodman makes money, and a lad that makes legitimate money these days is a lad you have to respect. But this jitterbug music gives me the backdrop of a beer flat. I like something with roses in it." "Maybe you like Mozart," Tony said. "Go on, kid me," the girl said. "I wasn't kidding you, Miss Cressy. I think Mozart was the greatest man that ever lived-and Toscanini is his prophet." "I thought you were the house dick." She put her head back on a pillow and stared at him through her lashes. "Make me some of that Mozart," she added. "It's too late," Tony sighed. "You can't get it now." She gave him another long lucid glance. "Got the eye on me, haven't you, flatfoot?" She laughed a little, almost under her breath. "What did I do wrong?" Tony smiled his toy smile. "Nothing, Miss Cressy. Nothing at all. But you need some fresh air. You've been five days in this hotel and you haven't been outdoors. And you have a tower room." She laughed again. "Make me a story about it. I'm bored." "There was a girl here once had your suite. She stayed in the hotel a whole week, like you. Without going out at all, I mean. She didn't speak to anybody hardly. What do you think she did then?" The girl eyed him gravely. "She jumped her bill." He put his long delicate hand out and turned it slowly, fluttering the fingers, with an effect almost like a lazy wave breaking. "Unh-uh. She sent down for her bill and paid it. Then she told the hop to be back in half an hour for her suitcases. Then she went out on her balcony." Let's break it down : A guy has a shitty night job, but keeps a keen eye out for what's going on; walks across lobby and has a chat with a feisty broad. That's all. But that's all that's necessary. Sense of place, nearly instantaneous character development, and then quickly, Conflict. All kept very close to the bone and the pace never falters; that's just how it's done, fast, tactile, no distraction, like surgery.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Sherriff

    Love it or hate it, Chandler's writing has shaped the modern mystery genre more than any other writer. If you have any intention of writing mystery you have to read Chandler and the 1944 essay, The Simple Art of Murder, which opens this collection of his eight longish short stories, is a must-read for anyone who writes crime. You could quibble about Chandler's hardboiled style getting in the way of his precious "realistic" approach to writing detective stories (how absurd now it seems for his ch Love it or hate it, Chandler's writing has shaped the modern mystery genre more than any other writer. If you have any intention of writing mystery you have to read Chandler and the 1944 essay, The Simple Art of Murder, which opens this collection of his eight longish short stories, is a must-read for anyone who writes crime. You could quibble about Chandler's hardboiled style getting in the way of his precious "realistic" approach to writing detective stories (how absurd now it seems for his characters to be downing quart after quart of rye whisky before driving off to confront some corrupt city councillor and beat them in a shoot-out). His use of now-dated street slang (detectives are "dicks", guns are "irons" women are "dames") gets quite comical to the modern ear, as does his odd, occasionally distracting observations, such as a blonde with smoky green eyes having very small pupils. What? So? But if his lexicon seems dated, his approach to writing about the people who commit crimes, and making the crimes more believable than arcane puzzles of logic to be solved by geniuses with schoolboy French, is with us to this day, alive and kicking. His stories are good, but his essay is sublime. Read it. He outlines exactly the archetypal action hero in the final three paragraphs, and those alone are worth coughing up the dough for. Download my starter library for free here - http://eepurl.com/bFkt0X - and receive my monthly newsletter with book recommendations galore for the Japanophile/crime fiction/English teacher in all of us.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    "Raymond" and "Chandler". When taken separately these words have a myriad of uses and meanings, but when taken together in the strict ordering "Raymond Chandler" they only mean one thing: excellence in storytelling. If you like any of his work whether in film or written form, then pick this up and get your little heart going pit-a-pat. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps a little, but the man was a master of detective fiction, a craftsman who created characters and plots that are so good, so iconic, and s "Raymond" and "Chandler". When taken separately these words have a myriad of uses and meanings, but when taken together in the strict ordering "Raymond Chandler" they only mean one thing: excellence in storytelling. If you like any of his work whether in film or written form, then pick this up and get your little heart going pit-a-pat. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps a little, but the man was a master of detective fiction, a craftsman who created characters and plots that are so good, so iconic, and so fulfilling that Hollywood has remade "The Big Sleep" as often as it has any book of Hammett's ("The Maltese Falcon" was also filmed twice). In some ways, I think that Chandler's work is more seductive, more flowing than Hammett's. Sam Spade is a louder, brasher man than Philip Marlowe in my mind. Is it a real, quantitative difference, or is it a perception flaw: Spade is named for a tool, Marlowe carries the name of a great writer of the past. What I can say without hesitation or qualification is that both men and their creations are "must reads"! Here is a book where we get to see what Chandler himself thinks of detective stories and how they need to be constructed. Even if you have no interest in writing, this is a wonderful look at the man who gave us such some of the best in the genre. (Yet another book read a long while back.)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Polansky

    Actually it might have been this book I read or it might have been another, but they all stand in together so fine. Anyway I went out to LA for a couple of weeks for different reasons and I obviously decided I needed to read a Chandler, and I picked this one up at the Last Bookstore in downtown LA (which is fine but quite frankly, yo, LA friends, if this is your answer to the Strand you don’t have an answer to the Strand.), and it’s fine. I had forgotten that Chandler reworked all of his short s Actually it might have been this book I read or it might have been another, but they all stand in together so fine. Anyway I went out to LA for a couple of weeks for different reasons and I obviously decided I needed to read a Chandler, and I picked this one up at the Last Bookstore in downtown LA (which is fine but quite frankly, yo, LA friends, if this is your answer to the Strand you don’t have an answer to the Strand.), and it’s fine. I had forgotten that Chandler reworked all of his short stories into his novels (incidentally, this is the reason for the famous (maybe not that famous) ‘who killed the chaffeur’ question in the Big Sleep, which is basically that he kept a previous story whole cloth without realizing that his changed made this plot point irrelevant) which was kind of fun anyway because I got to relive my favorite of his novels without having to re read them altogether. Chandler is, you know, Chandler, he writes like nobody’s business but the plots don’t make any sense. Drop, but only cause I have all the novels that he reworked these into.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    Eighty years later, Raymond Chandler is still one of the Masters of Crime Novels and the "hard-boiled detective" genre. This book is a series of short stories, written in the 1930's and 40's, prefaced by an essay he wrote on writing crime fiction and gives the book its title. I've always been a fan of Chandler's "Phillip Marlowe" and of Dashiell Hammet's "Thin Man." I grew up reading these novels that were in my great grandfather's bookcase. He was an educator and high school principal/superinten Eighty years later, Raymond Chandler is still one of the Masters of Crime Novels and the "hard-boiled detective" genre. This book is a series of short stories, written in the 1930's and 40's, prefaced by an essay he wrote on writing crime fiction and gives the book its title. I've always been a fan of Chandler's "Phillip Marlowe" and of Dashiell Hammet's "Thin Man." I grew up reading these novels that were in my great grandfather's bookcase. He was an educator and high school principal/superintendent in Chicago in the 1920's and 30's. He had a good appreciation of literature. Pop Deaver passed on before I could meet him, but his library told me a lot about the man (and, supposedly, I am related to the novelist, Jeffrey Deaver, somewhere along the line). I guess I like these stories because they give me a pattern to use for my own character, Mike Magee. As much as I'd like to make him a tough PI, it never worked out that way. But he's tough in his own way. If you write these sorts of stories, or you just enjoy reading them, I'd recommend this book and the opening essay. You'll find it as difficult to put down as I did.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Angelica

    A very sub par collection of short stories. It's listed on FictFact as part of the Philip Marlowe series, and that's the only reason why I read it now. Maybe I shouldn't have... All of these characters are proto-Marlowes. They have all of Marlowe's problems, and none of his qualities. The stories are very dated, uninteresting and badly developed. I couldn't even finish the essay. It seemed a very unnecessary and purposefully dense study of a subject that has already been developed further than des A very sub par collection of short stories. It's listed on FictFact as part of the Philip Marlowe series, and that's the only reason why I read it now. Maybe I shouldn't have... All of these characters are proto-Marlowes. They have all of Marlowe's problems, and none of his qualities. The stories are very dated, uninteresting and badly developed. I couldn't even finish the essay. It seemed a very unnecessary and purposefully dense study of a subject that has already been developed further than described, and therefore doesn't apply anymore. The second phrase of it, however, stands to memory: "Old-fashioned novels which now seem stilted and artificial to the point of burlesque did not appear that way to the people who first read them." I love the irony of how well it applies to Raymond Chandler himself...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    The essay on writers/writing was of interest. The collection of stories varied in interest for me. I don't mean to speak disrespectfully of writing by author who is held in such high esteem, but I struggle to get through the slang of the 30's. When it was written it had to have made sense to the reading public. For me, I stumble over each foreign expression, and that, I am certain, was not the intention of the author.

  14. 5 out of 5

    William

    A very mixed bag of early Chandler, with one pretty good story, and another okay. The introduction The Simple Art of Murder is now badly dated, and a bit of a whine about other authors. Hemingway says somewhere that the good writer competes only with the dead. The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well. 1. Spanish Blood This has all the elements of good noir, except characters you care abo A very mixed bag of early Chandler, with one pretty good story, and another okay. The introduction The Simple Art of Murder is now badly dated, and a bit of a whine about other authors. Hemingway says somewhere that the good writer competes only with the dead. The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well. 1. Spanish Blood This has all the elements of good noir, except characters you care about. Clearly early work. He leaned over softly and turned the knob on the radio. A waltz formed itself dimly on the warm air. A tinsel waltz, but a waltz. He turned the volume up. The music gushed from the loudspeaker in a swirl of shadowed melody. Since Vienna died, all waltzes are shadowed. 2. I'll Be Waiting 4-star This is clearly head-and-shoulders above the other stories, with very familiar Chandler prose and pacing, plus a femme-fatale worth far more lines than she got. Definitely worth reading. The little Spanish orchestra was in an archway, playing with muted strings small seductive melodies that were more like memories than sounds. 3. The King in Yellow 4-star This is pretty good, great femme fatale, hard-bitten gumshoe, but too much “info-dump” solution at the end. 4. Pearls Are a Nuisance 5. Pickup on Noon Street 3-star This is more complex than the previous stories, and it's clearly Chandler, but uneven. Wow, best femme fatale name ever: "Token Ware" ... 6. Smart-Aleck Kill DNF 7. Guns at Cyrano's DNF 8. Nevada Gas Started out okay, but a bit wooden. DNF Notes: 2.0% "... Hemingway says somewhere that the good writer competes only with the dead. The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well." 3.0% "The first chapter is a real moan about detective fiction in general, and badly dated, but with some good points. Tiresome though." 4.0% ".... dull" 14.0% "Not compelling. This was before any of the Marlowe books." 17.0% "... all the elements are there in Spanish Blood, but the story feels very pedestrian. We don't empathise with any of the characters." 18.0% "... the second story starts very well, almost elegiac." 22.0% "... the second story "l'll Be Waiting" is terrific. Very noir, very spare." 29.0% "... Dolores Chiozza. A fabulous femme fatale!" 36.0% ".... 3rd story “The King in Yellow” is pretty good, great femme fatale, hard-bitten gumshoe, but too much “info-dump” solution at the end." 40.0% "... the 4th story is written in quite a strange style. It's like Chandler is not sure of himself. Not very good." 49.0% "... the 4th story, Pearls Are a Nuisance, was not great. Weird style" 54.0% "... wow, best femme fatale name ever: Token Ware." 61.0% "... Pickup on Noon Street was more complex than the previous stories, clearly Chandler but uneven." 67.0% "... Smart-Aleck Kill is not working for me." 86.0% "... Guns at Cyrano's is not working for me."

  15. 4 out of 5

    William Prystauk

    For mystery writers, Chandler's opening essay is wonderful. One may not agree about all of his points regarding "modern" mystery writing, but it's great to know his approach to the genre and why Philip Marlowe is his particular vehicle to bring us his stories. As for the rest, we get a chance to see how Chandler progressed as a short story mystery writer. Many of his early tales are bogged down with street lingo of the time, which borders on parody, if not straight comedy. There's also annoying w For mystery writers, Chandler's opening essay is wonderful. One may not agree about all of his points regarding "modern" mystery writing, but it's great to know his approach to the genre and why Philip Marlowe is his particular vehicle to bring us his stories. As for the rest, we get a chance to see how Chandler progressed as a short story mystery writer. Many of his early tales are bogged down with street lingo of the time, which borders on parody, if not straight comedy. There's also annoying word repetition and strange syntax. However, "The King in Yellow" is a great indicator of the great books to come. In this tale, Chandler created a great, lingering noir atmosphere and had a stronger lead character. "Nevada Gas" is intriguing because of Chandler's approach to the lead male, and he plays with narrative in ways we don't see later on. In early stories, he presents scenes without his lead character, which he avoids when writing Marlowe. Chandler has stuck to a similar beat in all of works, whether they include the iconic Marlowe or not: Detective entering the crime scene only to distort the murder scene and even take something with him, women of questionable character that toy with the lead male's brain, bad cops who come off like criminals with badges, seemingly calm and calculating criminal masterminds, and the lead PI getting himself in a jam with the law. Plus, Chandler had a thing with missing pearls causing a ruckus. Although the stories aren't perfect, it helps us appreciate where Chandler took his writing. The only real problem: Like many readers, I wish Chandler had been more prolific and left us with more.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Graham P

    8 stories cut from the same square-jawed mold of Los Angeles crime fiction. This is early Chandler taking advantage of a template where hard guys casually stand between the law and the criminals; where our private dick teases a femme-fatale and even gets a bruised-lip kiss in; gets roughed up by meathead marauders and slick-palmed degenerates; engages in gunfire usually with the head thug standing by a regal desk or a lush davenport; gets tossed in the backseat of cars for a heavy-knuckled joy r 8 stories cut from the same square-jawed mold of Los Angeles crime fiction. This is early Chandler taking advantage of a template where hard guys casually stand between the law and the criminals; where our private dick teases a femme-fatale and even gets a bruised-lip kiss in; gets roughed up by meathead marauders and slick-palmed degenerates; engages in gunfire usually with the head thug standing by a regal desk or a lush davenport; gets tossed in the backseat of cars for a heavy-knuckled joy ride; finds a stiff sitting in a chair or under a bed, a bullet hole and a miserable clue side by side; goes to a cottage hideout and finds the fink who talks like a canary and gives up multiple plot points....and so on. It is really not the plot that transcends here, but the writing. And the highlights are "I'll be Waiting", actually the most melancholic of the bunch; "Pearls are a Nuisance" for its forked-tongued sense of humor, kind of like a buddy movie with two protagonists on the opposite ends of the social ladder; and "Guns at Cyranos" for its portrayal of a sad boxer unwilling to take a fall. All of this is earmarked with Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder" which isn't all it's hyped up to be. Overall, though, a stellar collection that shows how sharp and witty he was (nobody could describe a face like Chandler) before he put Marlowe to the page in 1939's "The Big Sleep."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Free download available at Faded Page.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Ciarfella

    Mr. Chandler is simply put, the master! just doesn't get any better than this! Anyone who wants to write in this hardboiled, noir style vein simply must read this. And not just once! He writes scenes like no one else can. Present, fast paced, exciting, action packed, on the move! His characters are tough, and bleed out onto the page in your face as you read. Makes you feel like you're actually there in the midst of all the action with them, and that, is about as good as it gets! Will return to this o Mr. Chandler is simply put, the master! just doesn't get any better than this! Anyone who wants to write in this hardboiled, noir style vein simply must read this. And not just once! He writes scenes like no one else can. Present, fast paced, exciting, action packed, on the move! His characters are tough, and bleed out onto the page in your face as you read. Makes you feel like you're actually there in the midst of all the action with them, and that, is about as good as it gets! Will return to this over and over again, for writing inspiration, and pure enjoyment!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Some authors struggle with the transition from novel to short story or from a series character to standalone, but not Chandler - the strengths of his Marlowe novels are reflected here even as his main shamus takes a breather. But the true highlight here is the opening essay, an excellent manifesto for hard-boiled fans everywhere.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Cootey

    Although I am not a fan of crime novels, and although not every story in this anthology caught my fancy, I overall became a fan of how Chandler writes. Earlier notes that I posted as I worked my way through this book reveal how enamored I became with his deft skill at establishing setting, and his masterful way at defining characters with just a few scant lines. Chandler was a talented writer. I am very intrigued that his first crime short story was published when he was 45, and that his first n Although I am not a fan of crime novels, and although not every story in this anthology caught my fancy, I overall became a fan of how Chandler writes. Earlier notes that I posted as I worked my way through this book reveal how enamored I became with his deft skill at establishing setting, and his masterful way at defining characters with just a few scant lines. Chandler was a talented writer. I am very intrigued that his first crime short story was published when he was 45, and that his first novel was published when he was 51. He wrote other short stories before WWI, but it's his crime fiction he is most known for. He lived a long, hard life while observing the world around him before he turned those observations into genre defining stories. Growing up, my tastes in fiction tended to sway towards fantasy and science fiction. I avoided crime noir perhaps because I was born in the 60s and felt this genre was old fashioned. I am glad that as an adult I have discovered his work and stepped outside my comfort zone. To think he was born in 1888 and almost half a century later became such a luminary in the pulp fiction industry. I find that rather inspiring. This collection of stories is a great introduction to crime fiction, pulp fiction, and the type of story that has entertained Americans since the 1930's. The writing is deceptively simple, packing great details into short bursts of prose. Considering how literary fiction is often concerned with the art of the word, Chandler can teach new writers much because he focused on the art of the story first. Apparently, earlier print editions of this book from the early 50s featured more short stories. I believe I will hunt for them, though, I imagine that they'll be priced accordingly as collectibles.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ross

    Early collection of short murder stories written in Chandler’s classic style. Each of these “crime noir” tales includes at least one bleak hotel setting and the consumption of lots of alcohol. Chandler paints quite a picture of 1930’s California from these stories. They are an acquired taste and I am glad I acquired the book! 3+ stars!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -

    I really have no idea why this is included in the Phillip Marlowe cannon when he isn't mentioned once. Although the opening essay, The Simple Art of Murder, made it worth reading alone and not being a short story lover, I was surprised to enjoy the rest immensely. With all of the hard-boiled characters, I wonder if that was really L.A. at the time, the parts that Chandler saw, or an expansion of what was real and what readers wanted. There's no doubt that there were areas of L.A. life that were I really have no idea why this is included in the Phillip Marlowe cannon when he isn't mentioned once. Although the opening essay, The Simple Art of Murder, made it worth reading alone and not being a short story lover, I was surprised to enjoy the rest immensely. With all of the hard-boiled characters, I wonder if that was really L.A. at the time, the parts that Chandler saw, or an expansion of what was real and what readers wanted. There's no doubt that there were areas of L.A. life that were corrupt; think of the studios covering up scandals, the cops on the take that were documented later if not at the time, the hint of gangsterism, the nightclub floor shows that could lead to issues with let's say a criminal and emotional element and even the effects of prohibition on many large cities. Still, I wonder if my grandparents experienced this at all with his button-down shirts and suits, or my grandmother who stayed at home to watch the kids until they were old enough for her to fulfill her dream of going back to work. Their city, Glendale, is mentioned often, however, maybe they kept their nose clean and he kept his head to the ground stone, achieving the what served as the American dream of the time. I wish I had thought to ask before we lost them. (add that to the huge list of things that I wish I'd asked them before Alzheimer's and death took them from us) Back to the stories.....They all had that biting wit that Chandler and the genre is/was known for. I read it in paper and found at the end that it was filled with sticky notes of lines that made me laugh or were such dead-on descriptions of life and people that they were priceless. Some of the characters were honest to goodness Private Dicks and others were men with too much time and money on their hands that seemed to be smart, yet always in the wrong place at the wrong time and couldn't say no to getting involved. Even in contemporary settings, I enjoy the gritty settings and this didn't disappoint. I could investigate why the low-down gritty appeals to me, but Freud is gone and I can guess that it has something to do with my comfortable all-girls private school upbringing and how when I was out of that, life felt like a shocking dirty trick. As I said, if nothing else, read the opening essay, The Simple Art of Murder, it will make you ponder why the genre is so popular in one form or another and why one style appeals to you more than others. I was reminded of de Quincey's, On Murder Considered as Fine Art, which was half a joke, half true and pushed the genre along on its path.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tim S.

    This isn't a bad collection of hard-boiled short stories but it's not a terribly interesting one either. While each tale stars a different protagonist, none of them Chandler's signature Philip Marlowe, they all might as well be the same character. Street smart, sharp tongued, tougher than anyone else in the room, yet all possessing a heart of gold beneath their hard-boiled exterior. The other characters who appear in these shorts are similarly stock, and the narratives themselves pretty formula. This isn't a bad collection of hard-boiled short stories but it's not a terribly interesting one either. While each tale stars a different protagonist, none of them Chandler's signature Philip Marlowe, they all might as well be the same character. Street smart, sharp tongued, tougher than anyone else in the room, yet all possessing a heart of gold beneath their hard-boiled exterior. The other characters who appear in these shorts are similarly stock, and the narratives themselves pretty formula. (Try counting how many times the hero has a friend who gets shot, how many times the hero finds a dead body in a room, how many pistols are 'poked into ribs,' how many times the story ends in a big shootout, etc). Taken on their own though, each of these stories is an enjoyable enough way to kill an hour or so. Together the sameness becomes a little tiresome. The are exceptions to this, among them the title essay, The Simple Art of Murder, in which Chandler takes the refined crime stories of his day (think Hercule Poirot) to task for their lack of realism. Crime fiction has of course changed much since then -- in many ways, because of the influence of his own work and similar gritty writers -- so his criticism no longer holds the same sting. It's mostly a period piece, without the humor that makes, say, Mark Twain's critique of the James Fenimore Cooper still worth reading. Also separating itself from the pack is "Pearls Are a Nuisance," a humorous caper very unlike the rest of Chandler's work here. It's still a crime story of course but rather than the usual hard-boiled protagonist, it features a comical upper class fop, in the P. G. Wodehouse/Bertie Wooster mold. It's a fun diversion, made all the more so by its incongruity to the stories around it. A nice, well, 'pearl' among otherwise pretty average pulp. All in all, a fairly unremarkable collection but if you enjoy Chandler, these stories should prove fun breezy enough reads. I'd suggest stretching them out over a period of time though. They're all simply too alike to consume in one big helping.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Abbe

    From Library Journal 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. Review "Raymond Chandler is a master." --_The New York Times_ _ ?[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.? --The New Yorker ?Chandler se From Library Journal 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. Review "Raymond Chandler is a master." --_The New York Times_ _ ?[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.? --The New Yorker ?Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious.? --Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review ?Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye.? --Los Angeles Times _ ?Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner. . . . An original. . . . A great artist.? ?_The Boston Book Review _ ?Raymond Chandler was one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century. . . . Age does not wither Chandler?s prose. . . . He wrote like an angel.? --_Literary Review _ ?[T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision.? --Joyce Carol Oates, _The New York Review of Books _?Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.? ?Ross Macdonald _ _?Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude.? --Erle Stanley Gardner _ _?Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.? --Paul Auster ?[Chandler]?s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that?s like ours, but isn?t. ? --Carolyn See _ _ -- Review

  25. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    The only Raymond Chandler I'd read before this book was his inexplicably famous "The Big Sleep," which I thought was a load of toss. Fortunately, apart from the essay that gives this collection its name, some of this book isn't as awful as "The Big Sleep," though some of it is. High body counts and silly contrivances abound. Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder" ought to be called, "why my mystery stories are better than everyone else's, especially those with the audacity to outsell me." It The only Raymond Chandler I'd read before this book was his inexplicably famous "The Big Sleep," which I thought was a load of toss. Fortunately, apart from the essay that gives this collection its name, some of this book isn't as awful as "The Big Sleep," though some of it is. High body counts and silly contrivances abound. Chandler's essay "The Simple Art of Murder" ought to be called, "why my mystery stories are better than everyone else's, especially those with the audacity to outsell me." It's even more ridiculously self-important than his stories. Chandler rather mean-spiritedly decries what he considers to be silly, frivolous, and unrealistic detective stories while setting up his school-of-hard-knocks protagonists, who talk street lingo but listen to Mozart, and whose bleak moods are always accompanied by more rainfall than Los Angeles has ever seen, as the epitome of realism. Recommended, if only for the lulz. Spanish Blood: beleaguered cop fights political machine. I'll Be Waiting: a hotel dick, a dame, and her no-good man who's just got out of prison. The King in Yellow: The first fully realized female character I've read in Chandler. Nice surprise, but an utterly silly plot involving the sort of solution Chandler sneered at Agatha Christie for writing. Monogrammed pajamas? Come ON! Pearls are a Nuisance: Chandler deliberately departs from type, and the story's much more entertaining because of it. This story would be excellent if not for Chandler repeatedly calling attention to the fact that he doesn't think real people speak grammatically. Pickup on Noon Street: a poor helpless dame and the good guy who gets caught up in her business. Lots of shooting. Smart-Aleck Kill: Hollywood, drugs, extortion, and murder. A pretty hilarious escape from a car. Guns at Cyrano's: another good female character, loads of shooting (hence the title) and blackmail. Nevada Gas: the most absurdly contrived murders of all, and exactly the sort of thing Chandler mocked Dorothy Sayers for writing in his essay.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This collection of short stories by Raymond Chandler is accompanied with an essay by the same on how murder mysteries should be put together. He felt that murders should take place in the everyday settings where people tend to die, and be performed by persons whose reason might resolve them to kill. He lived in an era prior to ours and its fashionable gangsterism; back then it was impolite to speak frankly of death – low class — yet by inserting death into an otherwise typical middle-class setti This collection of short stories by Raymond Chandler is accompanied with an essay by the same on how murder mysteries should be put together. He felt that murders should take place in the everyday settings where people tend to die, and be performed by persons whose reason might resolve them to kill. He lived in an era prior to ours and its fashionable gangsterism; back then it was impolite to speak frankly of death – low class — yet by inserting death into an otherwise typical middle-class setting the mystery writer could spice things up. Chandler's problem with this is that when you transplant murder to an easy setting it becomes attenuated, a denatured exotic satisfying a sensibility removed from that which accompanies it in the real world. The infamous Hollywood cliché of the "Magic Negro" is another example: the narrative needs of one segment of society foster an exotic type which is supposedly representative of another; a false representative with little bearing to reality, a simulation. The stories themselves are pretty fun to read. Murder happens, people smoke, talk in poetic argot, cross, doublecross, lounge in davenports, and drink. One way or another people get wise, even if they gotta die to do it. I like to think that were he alive today, Chandler would have a little Dr. Dre on his iPod to go along with the classics.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Lawless

    The book begins with Chandler's Atlantic Monthly essay about detective novels which is followed by eight short stories. In the essay, he discussed the difficulty in creating a good detective story given that they tend to be about murder and given that there are so many such stories out there. They have to draw you in to an unfortunate situation and offer enough facts without error to keep you interested. He discussed Hammett as the master of this because of the style he introduced and his carefu The book begins with Chandler's Atlantic Monthly essay about detective novels which is followed by eight short stories. In the essay, he discussed the difficulty in creating a good detective story given that they tend to be about murder and given that there are so many such stories out there. They have to draw you in to an unfortunate situation and offer enough facts without error to keep you interested. He discussed Hammett as the master of this because of the style he introduced and his carefully revealed details. He failed to mention that he himself was also a master. Of the eight stories, half of them worked better than the others. The weaker ones packed a little too much into them while the others were better paced. In Pearls are a Nuisance, a completely different writing style was used. This story was not typical Chandler dialog or characters. It actually seemed more like reading Wodehouse with a dapper protagonist and a silliness to a lot of the conversations which I enjoyed a lot.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    A fascinating slice of Chandler. four short stories drawn from the early pulps, my favorite being "Pearls Are a Nuisance" (most of these stories,unlike his later novels,are written in the third person and even though Marlowe never appears you can easily see the early influence and shape of things to come) but the real highlight is the title essay where Chandler takes apart most of the classic detective stories and offers a critique of crime fiction.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Simmons

    The sterling title essay is followed by a string of fun but fairly disposable pulp detective stories, full of characters cracking wise and jamming pistols into each other's sternums and whatnot. Best of the bunch is "Pearls are a Nuisance," whose hero is an exceedingly well-spoken alcoholic. His crime-solving adventure proves to be more tongue-in-cheek than hard-boiled.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    Read this book primarily for the essay of the same title included in this collection, which by itself is sufficient reason to pick up this book.

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