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The Simple Art of Murder

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Book Overview

The renowned novel from crime fiction master Raymond Chandler, with the "quintessential urban private eye" (Los Angeles Times), Philip Marlowe - Featuring the iconic character that inspired the... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Hardboiled to perfection

The best! No hard-boiled writer, except Dashiell Hammett, can write mysteries that "feel" better. This collection consists of: "The Simple Art of Murder" (an essay on mystery writing), and the short stories: "Spanish blood," "I'll be waiting", "The King in Yellow", "Pearls are a Nuisance", "Pickup on Noon Street", "Smart-aleck Kill", "Guns at Cyrano's", "Nevada gas."

You can't beat Raymond Chandler

The thing about Raymond Chandler is his ability to put words together in the most intriguing, descriptive way. His prose is beyond readable -- it's captivating. The first book of his I read was "Farewell, My Lovely." I read a couple of paragraphs and I was simply hooked. The stories themselves are wonderful, but told by a lesser author, they wouldn't be half as good. The sad thing about Chandler is that he got started rather late in life with his writing and he didn't get that many books written before he died. Today, you can find about eight books, comprising six novels and two collections of short stories. "The Simple Art of Murder" is one of the short story collections. Chandler's famous fictional detective, Philip Marlowe does not appear in any of the short stories in this book because these are his earlier works. They appeared in magazines and he hadn't dreamt up Marlowe yet. But the stories are so worth reading. One of Chandler's gifts is his ability to describe people, places and the times without being at all boring. The net result is that, while you're reading, you're there, back in the Los Angeles of the 1930's and 40's, experiencing how it used to look, how it once felt, what life there was once like. It's almost intoxicating in its effects. Those who have read some of the Philip Marlowe novels will find a couple of interesting things. With a little re-working, you'll find a couple of his short stories in the novels as chapters of the larger works. One of the really interesting things about this particular collection is the opening work, not a story but an essay entitled "The Simple Art of Murder." It's Raymond Chandler's commentary on what it takes to write a good murder mystery and, believe it or not, it's a very interesting read. It's entertaining and insightful, not in the least bit dry, and proof positive that Chandler could really write. The man was truly gifted and not to read him is to missing something excellent indeed. The phrase "pulp fiction" generally conveys something of lesser quality, trash, in fact. I'll never make that assumption again having read Raymond Chandler, master of the genre. Few authors in any genre have been able to write as well as he did.

I Read It Until the Book Fell Apart

I am commenting on the present book not the older 1968 version. Some other people are commenting on the old book. Before you read all the other comments here, please be clear that this book is not like Chandler's other books. Unfortunately, some other people commenting on this book have not read the book - obviously. This book does not contain his character Philip Marlowe. He might have been in the 1968 version, I do not know. Here we have an essay by Chandler called "The Simple Art of Murder," followed by 8 short stories, each about 40 pages long. In some ways, these are a sampling of Chandler's "other stories." They still involve an LA based private detective, but each leading male protagonist has a different personality. The great attraction of this book is the essay by Chandler on how he writes, and what he thinks of other writers. After reading the esssay, I immediately ran out and bought Hemingway's "Farewell to Arms." Chandler thought that this book probably has the best prose of 20th century novels. In the essay Chandler tells us about his philosophy to writing crime stories, and he makes comments on other writers from Hemingway to British mystery writer Dorothy Sayers. It is a good essay by Chandler but short. I have read all 7 Chandler novels plus the short stories "Trouble is My Business." One can make the argument that the present book is perhaps his best work; although, the short story format does not make for an impressive read - as we see for example in "Farewell, My Lovely," or other full novels. As a Chandler fan I read this introduction four times, and read most other stories twice. "Smart-Aleck Kill" has a very complicated plot compressed into a very short format. I ended up reading it three times before all the characters were clear in my mind. Eventually the binding of this new book came apart. There is no Philip Marlowe, but this is an excellent sample of Chandler's writing skills. Chandler wrote detective mystery stories, and became famous for seven novels and a number of Hollywood screen plays, mostly about crime and private detectives in the "film noir" genre of Hollywood black and white films, or what is called LA "pulp fiction". Far from being an ordinary writer of cheap crime stories, Chandler became one of America's best writers from the mid 20th century. His fame was of course helped by Bogat and Bacall starring in the film "The Big Sleep" based on Chandler's first novel. In any case, this is a book that is not to be missed by Chandler fans. It is simply excellent for anyone else.

Art made to look simple

The essay which gives this collection its title is the apotheosis of Chandler - the absolute distillation of the meaning of "Chandleresque" (or for that matter "Hammett-ness"). Here Chandler steps back from the creation of Noir fiction and, in a sometimes bitter or shrp way, comes down hard on the Hams and Part-timers of a literary form he believed to be worthy of elevation from the term genre.Chandler chose to use the conventions of the Crime Novella format to his own - rather than any readership or editors - ends. Less monothematic than the given Short Story format, pre-flavoured with the expectations of the Crime buyer, the Novella and its narrow context of the stark contrasts of the Urban existence allow Chandler to define a notion of modern man and the modern morality of the individual in a socially dislocated environment - years before Welles and decades ahead of the Quention Tarantino's who currently tease us with the same issues and questions.In "The Simple Art of Murder" the short stories and mini-novellas are sharp and compelling; in the title-giving essay, Chandler sits back and confesses to what compels him to write so. To paraphrase the author himself (speaking of Hammett for whom he had a great admiration), he took the art of murder from the counttry vicarage and "gave it back to the people on the street, to whom it really belonged anyway". Marlowe is silhouetted by his creator in his concluding idea of why a man such as him will always exist, why his morality must exist .. "down these mean streets a man must go, a man who is neither tarnished nor afraid...". Written with so much conviction that his argument stands up like a spoon in it, for this essay alone - and the future years of musing on and quoting whole tracts that will instantly lodge in your memory for ever - no-one interested in what underlies the fascination of "noir" should go down a dark alley at night without it.
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