(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)
The only complete edition of stories by the undisputed master of detective literature, collected here for the first time in one volume, including some stories that have been unavailable for decades.
When Raymond Chandler turned to writing at the age of forty-five, he began by publishing stories in pulp magazines such as “Black Mask” before later writing his famous novels. These stories are where Chandler honed his art and developed his uniquely vivid underworld, peopled with good cops and bad cops, informers and extortionists, lethally predatory blondes and redheads, and crime, sex, gambling, and alcohol in abundance. In addition to his classic hard-boiled stories–in which his signature atmosphere of depravity and violence swirls around the cool, intuitive loners whose type culminated in the famous detective Philip Marlowe–Chandler also turned his hand to fantasy and even a gothic romance.
This rich treasury of twenty-five stories shows Chandler developing the terse, laconic, understated style that would serve him so well in his later masterpieces, and immerses the reader in the richly realized fictional universe that has become an enduring part of our literary landscape
"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge." Sure, those lines are the opener for "Red Wind," a little yarn about a couple of boys getting bumped off kind of rough. But you could be eyeballing "Trouble is My Busi-ness," "Pickup on Noon Street" or any other dark gem pick-axed from the underworld of L.A., a town as edgy as a rummy in a lockjaw ward. Hand it to Chandler--Marlowe, Dalmas, all those sourpussed coppers, they get under your skin. You crack wise.
You size things up differently, like nothing is on the square. Especially dames. You get an itch to know things, things you didn't even know you didn't know, see, because some of the stories in this book have been out of print for 40 years, forgotten like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich under a sofa cushion. So take a load off, pull out the office bottle and turn a few pages. You won't look up again until your peepers feel like you gave them sandpaper eyedrops. Anyway, unless a blonde shows up, the way blondes do, sporting a black cocktail dress and a cute little .25 automatic to match.