If you look through my previous Raymond Chandler reviews, you’ll see that I’m a massive fan of Chandler and his famous Los Angeles private eye, Philip Marlowe. The setting, the sassy dialogue, the day drinking at work – it’s all awesome. Unfortunately, while it is still enjoyable, this third book in the Marlowe series is the least-memorable of the series.
In this story, Marlowe is hired by a cantankerous battle-axe of a wealthy old matriarch to find a missing rare coin. She’s the perfect client for Marlowe – lots of mouth and fire backed by cunning. Neither Marlowe nor the matriarch much likes their counterpart, but their begrudging respect for one another binds them on a search for a coin that sprawls across LA and leads to all kinds of other drama.
As usual, Marlowe encounters all kinds of people on the fringes of law and society. In previous novels, I thought these supporting players were either more fleshed out or more interesting. In this story, most of the minor characters are bland. I only remember enjoying a couple of lines from non-Marlowe characters, whereas in previous books I underlined paragraphs of dialogue or writing. That being said, Chandler still delivers some great lines:
“From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.”
“He looked like a man who could be trusted with a secret – if it was his own secret.”
“Do you regard yourself as a clever man, Mr. Marlowe?”
“Well, I’m not dripping with it.”
As a side note, if you are interested in Raymond Chandler’s writing, I highly recommend shelling out thirty bucks to get the America’s Library collection of his first three novels and other pulp fiction. Its a pretty, classy hardcover with acid-free paper and binding that lays flat. Give Marlowe the respect he deserves.