Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler

As I’ve written about before, I have an Addiction to Crime Fiction. So it was a bit shocking that I’ve never read Raymond Chandler. My friend Ann decided it was time to put this right when I went to stay with her in early August and I left with a collection of The Lady in the Lake, The High Window and The Little Sister.

These three stories take you into a world of intrigue, affairs, corrupt doctors, police that you don’t want to get on the wrong side of, sleazy motel life, Hollywood actresses, wealthy Los Angeles families, gangsters, and sexually repressed secretaries. Chandler is well described as defining the ‘hard boiled school of detective fiction’. It’s a long way from St Mary Mead and Miss Marple that’s for sure.

I can see how he changed crime writing forever, bringing plot and suspense together with a literary style and a focus on the lives of Californians in the 1940s. My only complaint was that I didn’t identify with the characters mixed up in the various murders, and I couldn’t quite get under the skin of detective Philip Marlowe in the same way that I am immediately drawn to other flawed male detectives such as Inspector Morse in Colin Dexter’s fantastic series, Adam Dalgleish in PD James and Jackson Brodie in Kate Atkinson’s new detective novels.

I do like detective fiction that’s short and sweet and easy to polish off pretty quickly. I was at my grandfather’s when I started reading these and it reminded him how much he used to enjoy Raymond Chandler. Now he can’t see well enough to read he uses audio books, but he also likes his carers reading to him. But this means he really needs something fairly short so that his different carers can pick it up and he can be finished over a few days without losing the thread. My reading these inspired him to ask for some Raymond Chandler for his 96th birthday next month. I’m just pondering which selection to pick.