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Posted November 20, 2010
This is the second of two volumes of the definitive collection of Raymond Chandler's work, from Library of America. It contains the later four of his seven novels, the screenplay for "Double Indemnity" (written with Billy Wilder) and a number of letters and essays, including "The Simple Art of Murder," often quoted in discussions of crime fiction.
If you've never read Chandler, the two-volume set is an excellent place to start. If it's been a while, then his work generously rewards another visit. And if you like any kind of crime fiction, even if only the most recent works, you owe it to yourself to spend some time with Chandler, because he and Dashiell Hammett essentially invented the genre which contemporary writers are still exploring.
In much of his work, plot is less important than the compelling characterizations he comes up with, which are still evocative of our culture in general, and of Los Angeles in particular. And his style, mood and tone are able to create a world which, although exaggerated, contains a powerful truth which can hypnotize the reader into coming back for more, and then more.
Since all I can do in this review is string together compliments, I urge you to discover or re-visit Chandler for yourself. His work is still strong and his view of human nature is right up to the moment.