This is the first in a series of reviews from the books of Jordan B Peterson’s recommended reading. It’s a daunting list. I’m limited in time and comprehension, but my aim is high–to read and review as many as possible.
At the first the spectacular and yet down-to-earth writing style is all I noticed. Then the story began to take hold of me. Being born in LA, I relished the mention of familiar streets like Wilshire, Vine, Highland, and felt instantly at home.
Detective Marlowe is not instantly likeable. Nor is that his goal. He begins with a visit to a client whose two daughters, Camilla and Vivian, will eventually upstage most of the book. You feel Marlowe’s sympathy with the client, an old worn-out rich man being black-mailed for what seems today to be small change, for a wealthy man at least. The descriptions feel like overly worked metaphors, but somehow, they work. I had a sense of F Scott Fitzgerald’s obscurely constructed world, cliche-ridden but lofty at the same time. The drinks flow as freely as in Fitzgerald.
I puzzled over the title as I read. Marlowe is attempting to find out who the blackmailer is and how his client became a victim, while following a sub-agenda of searching for the man’s missing son-in-law, Rusty Regan. Solving a murder or two, breaking up a porn ring and rescuing a girl from a gambling game ensue.
Marlowe kisses a girl or two, and gets beat up pretty badly. All for the private eye fee he charges of $25 a day. It is the forties after all.
The resolution of this book, which I will not give away, was satisfying in a strange way. Chandler charms. And he teaches us that men and women make choices which lead to outcomes. Nothing new, but packaged in a unique voice.