Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Review of The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler (1943, Knopf)
The Lady in the Lake is the fourth book in the Philip Marlowe series. Marlowe’s character as a private detective who can handle folk like a feather when needed, but is more likely to use the edge of his tongue and the back of his hand, is firmly established. The strength of the book is the plot and Chandler’s storytelling. The story starts as a missing wife case, quickly becoming a two missing wives case, then a murder investigation after one of them is found at the bottom of a lake. Whilst the police believe they’ve quickly solved the murder, Marlowe isn’t convinced and he still hasn’t found the first missing wife. It takes all of his guile and abrasiveness to finally locate her and solve the puzzle, and the denouement is very satisfying as Chandler reveals a perfectly logical, but well camouflaged, twist. The characterisation and their interactions is well done and Chandler nicely portrays and passes comment on the social relations and police corruption of the time. Overall, a superior PI tale from one of the genre’s masters.