As a librarian I take offense to “As it is she will probably turn out to be one of those acid-faced virgins that sit behind little desks in public libraries and stamp dates in books.” penned by Raymond Chandler in The High Window. However, you can without a doubt, picture the woman he’s talking about. As I was reading this book, I came upon example upon example upon example why Chandler’s prose are the benchmark by which mystery writers are compared.
When a mean old rich lady (“She had a lot of face and chin. She had pewter-colored hair set in a ruthless permanent, a hard beak and large moist eyes with the sympatheic expression of wet stones.”) hires Philip Marlowe to find a rare coin that was stolen and hopefully blame it on her daughter-in-law, a simple task becomes complicatecd by multiple murders, an array of snobbily rich or sinister or down trodden characters. Detective Breeze (every P.I. needs a detective as a foil) is perfect for the role, hard nosed but with a soft side. Despite no fisticuffs or car chases, Chandler’s plot moves quickly, again, proving he is the Master.
There’s smart talk, ample action and incomparable writing. What more can you ask for?