With humor, along with an unerring sense of dialogue and the telling details of dress and behavior, Raymond Chandler created a distinctive fictional universe out of the dark side of sunlit Los Angeles. In the process, he transformed both crime writing and the American language.
Written during the war, The Lady in the Lake (1943) takes Philip Marlowe out of the seamy L.A. streets to the deceptive tranquility of the surrounding mountains, as the search for a businessman’s missing wife expands into an elegy of loneliness and loss. The darker tone typical of Chandler’s later fiction is evident in The Little Sister (1949), in which an ambitious starlet, a blackmailer, and a seemingly naïve young woman from Manhattan, Kansas, are the key players in a plot that provides fuel for a bitter indictment of Hollywood and Chandler’s most savage portrayal of his adopted city.
The Long Goodbye (1953), his most ambitious and self-revealing novel, uncovers a more anguished resonance in the Marlowe character, in a plot that hinges on the betrayal of friendship and the compromises of middle age. Playback (1958), written originally as a screenplay, is Chandler’s seventh and last novel.
A special feature of this volume is Chandler’s long-unavailable screenplay for the film noir classic, Double Indemnity (1944), adapted from James M. Cain’s novel. Written with director Billy Wilder, it is one of the best screenplays in American cinema, masterful in construction and dialogue. Supplementing the volume, and providing a more personal glimpse of Chandler’s personality, is a selection of letters and essays—including “The Simple Art of Murder,” in which Chandler muses on his pulp roots and on the special qualities of his hero and style.
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About the Author
Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) was one of the pioneers of hard-bolied detective fiction, a form he perfected in his celebrated Philip Marlowe novels, including The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, and The Long Goodbye.
Frank MacShane (1927–1999) was author of The Life of Raymond Chandler and Raymond Chandler: A Bibliography and editor of The Letters of Raymond Chandler and The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler.
Date of Birth:July 23, 1888
Date of Death:March 26, 1959
Place of Birth:Chicago Illinois
Place of Death:La Jolla, California
Education:Educated in England, France, and Germany