by Raymond Chandler
In Chandler's second novel, things turn a little seedier. Perhaps Chandler wanted to top the hardboiled atmosphere of his previous books. Perhaps he felt freer in creating a sleazy Los Angeles. The book opens down in South Central L.A., where private eye Philip Marlowe stumbles into a gin joint and witnesses a gruesome murder. Marlowe is intrigued by gentle murderous giant Moose Malloy and what Malloy is after, his torch singer girlfriend Velma. Almost out of boredom, Marlowe follows up on what happened, stumbles upon another murder, and follows several false leads to various ugly characters throughout the L.A. area. There is Jules Amthor, creepy psychic to the stars. Brunette, a player and a man ruling over the corrupt government of Bay City. There is a freshly-scrubbed young sleuth who catches Marlowe's eye. And there is stunningly beautiful Mrs. Grayle, whose sexuality hypnotizes him. Along the way, Marlowe is beaten up pretty badly, drugged and threatened by good cops, bad cops, gamblers and hot dog salesmen. The overall tone of the book is slimier and more uncomfortable than the earlier books, but Chandler's writing remains witty and self-effacing, looser and more entertaining in the end.
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Also by Chandler: [The Big Sleep] [The Lady in the Lake] [The Little Sister] [The Long Goodbye] [Playback] [The High Window]
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[Other books set in California]