I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
Marlowe's about to give up on a completely routine case when he finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to get caught up in a murder that leads to a ring of jewel thieves, another murder, a fortune-teller, a couple more murders, and more corruption than your average graveyard.
Some dithering on my part between 4 and 5 stars—but I am going for 5 because I so enjoyed the reading experience.
I fear that I will repeat myself a lot from my review of The Big Sleep. Chandler’s writing is awesome—very expressive, yet very spare. Each novel is a complete joy, but not padded with anything extra. Occasional, brief descriptions of surroundings paint a full picture with very few strokes. His vocabulary choices are spot on. A delight to read.
I very much receive the impression that Philip Marlowe is Raymond Chandler’s alter-ego, the man that he fantasized about being. Handsome, brave, always knowing what to do, street smart, alluring to the ladies, and able to handle his liquor or a punch to the face. By all accounts a troubled man, Chandler certainly wrote the drinking scenes like he knew what he was talking about. It may have been the thing that he and Marlowe shared most in common.
Beautiful writing about less than beautiful subjects—Chandler is one of the masters.