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by John Q McDonald --- 2 February 2004

The Little Sister

by Raymond Chandler

I suspect as Mr. Chandler got older, he got a little more bitter and dark in his view of life in California, if that could be imagined. His main protagonist, at least, does become more glum in the later books. Here, Philip Marlowe enters upon another adventure, positioning himself as a tarnished knight in armor, trying to do what's right in an increasingly wrong world. His loneliness and cynicism burst through in sharp, observant diatribes about post-war Los Angeles. In this novel, Orfamay Quest comes into LA looking for the brother who left home in Manhattan, Kansas, and then vanished into the seediness of Bay City (read Santa Monica). She appeals to the softer, nobler side of Marlowe's character. He heads out to find brother Orrin, and almost immediately falls in to a twisted net of drug dealers and Cleveland gangsters. How this all ties together is one of Chandler's typical labyrinthine tales. This is a good book, kind of glum, though. One ends up worrying about Marlowe, and by extension, the author. Bay City's cops are still brutal, but this time, Marlowe finds some willing to trust him, but not without giving him an earful for the trouble. And just who is Mavis Weld, and how is it that all this could ruin her movie career? Marlowe remains a disillusioned and aging man (though somewhat ageless throughout nearly 20 years of novels). He is lonely and hunched over bitter coffee and a grilled cheese sandwich in the diner downstairs.

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Also by Chandler: [The High Window] [The Big Sleep] [The Lady in the Lake] [The Long Goodbye] [Playback] [Farewell, My Lovely]

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