Monday, June 8, 2009

The Lady in the Lake

Monday, June 8, 2009

"At least half the mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable." Raymond Chandler

My question was whether Raymond Chandler's The Lady in the Lake fulfilled his own criteria for a good mystery novel. Was the solution inevitable?

As he worked it out, it probably was.

I was amazed at how similarly plotted this book was to the short story "Red Wind." Chandler's straightforward narrative makes the story seem more simple than it is. He just tells the story from Marlowe's first involvement in it clear through until the end. He reveals the web of relationships, a web which seems to be at the heart of most Raymond Chandler novels, gradually in real time. He was the master of this technique.

At one point he talks about how cheap mystery novels have a part in them where the detective is at death's door, and somehow miraculously escapes. That happens for Marlowe too. Several times.

So, is this a good story? I thought so. I am amazed at his technique. I don't care about Phillip Marlowe in the same way I care about Easy Rawlins or Joe Leaphorn. But the story is masterful and easy to read.

I always enjoy reading Raymond Chandler.

PS I think this is the first time I have read this book. I chose it because of the four on my reading list, it was the one I hadn't read before.


Corey Wilde said...

I've got The Long Goodbye on my list to read very, very soon. Sooner or later I have to get to The Lady in the Lake.

Joe Barone said...

I feel like I learn a lot from Chandler.