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The Lady in the Lake
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Group Reads > July 2012 - The Lady in the Lake

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Michael (Knowledgelost) | 268 comments Mod
A couple of missing wives—one a rich man's and one a poor man's—become the objects of Marlowe's investigation. One of them may have gotten a Mexican divorce and married a gigolo and the other may be dead. Marlowe's not sure he cares about either one, but he's not paid to care.


message 2: by Flash Beagle (last edited Jul 01, 2012 11:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Flash Beagle | 61 comments I read the first page and I'm hooked - Chandler's descriptions of downtown Los Angeles are just incredible. I was recently at The Last Bookstore, a used bookstore in the old bank district at 5th and Spring, very close to 6th and Olive where the story starts, and the buildings are the same. I just love Chandler and his LA settings.


John (johntai) | 4 comments I just found this group and I'd like to jump in with this month's pick. However I haven't read any Chandler book, so should I read them in order starting with The Big Sleep? Since they're not too long, I don't mind, I'm sure I'll love them. Or should I just read The Lady in the Lake now? Will I miss any reference to previous books? Your advice is highly appreciated.


Michael (Knowledgelost) | 268 comments Mod
Personally I don't think you really need to read them in order, but I'm sure others may disagree


Franky | 156 comments I have my copy and will be reading as soon as I finish another book. I read through the first few pages and I think I'll like this one as much as The Big Sleep.


message 6: by Kim, Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim (shirezu) | 34 comments Mod
I started with The Big Sleep but then jumped the rest to this one and didn't have any issues. They are pretty much standalone books with the same main character.


Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
As far as I can tell you could even start with the one robert parker finished - Poodle Springs - without missing out on "in world" data but I wouldn't suggest it. This is as good a place to start as any is what I'm trying to say.


John (johntai) | 4 comments Great!! Thanks so much for the feedback. I'll definitely read this and come back with my thoughts.


Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
I see both Kim and Michael have given it 5 stars so I am already in the minority in thinking it was merely OK.

Did anybody else dislike it? Or am I just jaded and expecting too much? Is my projecting of the Bogart noir movies on to the character wrong?


message 10: by Kim, Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim (shirezu) | 34 comments Mod
In my case it may just be that you have a wider range of experience to base your comparison on. I've only read two Chandler books and have a total of 14 books marked noir. That was my reason for joining this group, to find more noir books to try.


message 11: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Well I'm not going to hold that against you Kim, my jadedness shouldn't be inflicted on you. May all Chandler's live long as masterpieces.


message 12: by Michael, Anti-Hero (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael (Knowledgelost) | 268 comments Mod
I read this book before seeing any of the Bogart noir movies. The reason I loved this book was I never knew what to expect, I think I have the case figured out and Chandler just makes it more complex. That's what I look for in a good crime novel


message 13: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "I read this book before seeing any of the Bogart noir movies. The reason I loved this book was I never knew what to expect, I think I have the case figured out and Chandler just makes it more compl..."

I think that figures as to why I was so underwhelmed then, having everything worked out from the beginning can do nothing for your enjoyment.


message 14: by Flash Beagle (last edited Jul 04, 2012 12:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Flash Beagle | 61 comments I'm about a fourth into it and love it.
I haven't seen any Bogart Marlowe films. However, the scene I just finished, where the body was pulled out of the lake and Marlowe, the sheriff, etc., are all there - the heaviness in the air, waiting for the next shoe to drop - reminded me of the Sergio Leone-Clint Eastwood "man with no name" films where the action pauses and everyone is tensely aware of each other, insects buzzing, no one speaking, no music, nothing to relieve or interpret the tension - wonderful.
At this point I have a theory (!) however, I had one in The Long Goodbye and the story ended up very different so I would not predict where it will end.
Anyway, great book. Chandler gets more out of each sentence than just about anyone.


Franky | 156 comments I'm up to chapter 4 and really liking it so far. Marlowe has that bitter tongue of cynicism and sharp, snappy wit.


Ctgt | 109 comments Just finished. It's been a couple of years since I read any Chandler and I must say it was great getting back into his style. I love his short, almost clipped delivery, especially when it comes to his dialogue. I find his writing very clean and sharp. (I'm having a tough time describing exactly what I'm feeling)

I only had it partially figured out, but that's par for the course for me.

I didn't realize this was a combination of several shorts by Chandler. For you Chandler fans out there, is this something he did often?


message 17: by Flash Beagle (last edited Jul 07, 2012 12:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Flash Beagle | 61 comments Raymond Chandler's craftsmanship amazes me. The details and characterizations and how he uses them to solidify the scene, for example, when he was confronting Lavery and Lavery got so mad that he spit on the rug. Marlowe said it jarred him - Lavery's cool facade vanished and he was a tough kid in an alley. I would like to have known more about that.
In 'stars' it would be 4.7 or something but rounded to 5.

On the mention of incorporating other scenes from previous works, it's mentioned in a chronology, Chandler referred to it as 'cannibalizing', and he used it a number of times. I don't think it's so unusual; an author may write a scene and find it works well someplace else. I recently read Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor and she crafted it from other works.


Adam | 102 comments Yes, most of Chandler's novels took ideas, situations, and plots from two or three short stories he'd written earlier in his career.


Stephen (SPG-) | 30 comments Almost halfway through and actually preferring this to The Big Sleep which had equally excellent dialogue but it got difficult to follow what was going on.


Cyndi (BookChick64) | 50 comments Picking this up from the library tomorrow.


message 21: by Alberto (last edited Jul 14, 2012 10:11PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Alberto  | 289 comments I'm halfway through this one. I think the prose, dialogues and wisecracks were very much better in The Big Sleep but this one is better plotted (Big Sleep was messy and difficult to follow). Just if the writing were here as great as in TBS...


Kenny | 13 comments Haven't read Chandler in a while, so I'm loving this. Great characterization and the description at the end of Chapter 6, on the pier, is great.

I noticed the part about Lavery spitting too. A simple action, but it shows another angle in who he is.

Liking this a lot.


Franky | 156 comments Just finished this yesterday and I agree that I liked this one a little better than The Big Sleep. I also agree that the plot seemed easier to follow. It did get a little bit complicated at times with the identities and cover ups, but a nice finish.


Franky | 156 comments Did anyone happen to ever watch the film version of Lady in the Lake (1947) on DVD?

I just watched it on netflix and couldn't stand it. It tries this experimental direction where the camera (and the viewer) is seeing things from Marlowe's perspective and it never really works and comes across a little gimmicky. Also, it has little suspense, and comes across unintentionally funny, sort of killing Chandler's novel as it goes along.


message 25: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 230 comments Mod
I've never seen the movie. Too bad they had to ruin it, but you know Hollywood...I'm sure they'll be remaking it any day now with Leonardo Dicaprio as Marlowe.

One of the things that I find most interesting is how Marlowe has no backstory. If this book was written today, I'm almost certain he'd have an ex-wife, a current wife or girlfriend, maybe a couple of kids to give him grief and provide some laughs. I think I might prefer my tough-talking male detectives to be unencumbered crime-solving machines.


message 26: by Tfitoby, Film Noir (new) - rated it 2 stars

Tfitoby | 510 comments Mod
It's only had the one adaptation which is unusual for Marlowe stories. I too disliked it Franky for the same reason everyone disliked it; the POV thing is not as cool as Montgomery thought it would be and does the complete opposite of what it intended.


message 27: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 230 comments Mod
Finished! I really liked this one, more than the only other Chandler I've read - The Big Sleep.
The plot was tighter, less convoluted, and the dialogue, though not as snappy, was much more realistic. AND the utter lack of that annoying little hair-chewing sister from the first book, made this one a complete winner for me.

Oh - and I truly enjoyed the crooked cops.


Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments I havet read Chandler in years now and you guys hailing this book and Bogar version of Big sleep make wonder if the series is as strong after book 2.


John (johntai) | 4 comments I just read my first Chandler novel, and it's just as good as I imagined. The Lady in the Lake is a great murder mystery, with many twists, but I especially loved that throughout the novel we hear Marlow's theories about what happened, laying out the many different possibilities and their probability. Something that the audience always does when dealing with a murder mystery.

Chandler is a concise writer and gets quickly to the point, only describing things when it's really necessary, and he does so very well filling certain scenes with tension and a bit of horror, like the scene at the lake.

There are also some puzzling sentences that I had a hard time with, like this one:

"The idea seemed to be that he was one of those doctors who run around all night with a case of loaded hypodermic needles, keeping the local fast set from having pink elephants for breakfast."

Different times.

There’s not much characterization, which I was surprised by. I didn't feel any connection to Marlowe, but ironically some of the other characters were more interesting.

I do like that Marlowe seems to be telling the truth when meeting other people, except for the end when he was with DeGarmo. DeGarmo is a character I kept changing opinion about. At first he just seemed like a crooked cop, then I thought that he might actually not be too bad, when Marlowe seemed to like him too. But when we find out the truth, I flipped again. Great plot twists tied with the characters.

I really enjoyed this, and will definitely read all Chandler novels, since they're short and there are only 8 of them.


Adam | 102 comments John, that sentence you picked out as problematic for you is great. It doesn't seem weird to me, but I'm totally mired in the period. In short, "pink elephants" is a term used for delerium tremens (the "DT's") ... in other words drunks would see "pink elephants" when they were coming off an epic binge. So the doctor has hypodermic needles filled with some kind of drug that helps the "fast set" (the fashionable party people) come down from their overindulgences.

If you enjoy lingo like that, despite it being a little puzzling, you should check out Milton Caniff's strip "Steve Canyon." Literally all the dialogue is like that, and even at the time it had to be "translated" for republication in England. Here's an example ... "As they say in French, Delta, a bird in the hand that quick might be a no-joy decoy."


Kenny | 13 comments I can usually figure out the slang if I don't already know it. Pink elephants and fast set I'm familiar with. Brand names and descriptions of styles, types of cloth and clothing usually draw a blank with me. And sometimes different technology can throw me at first, like stepping on the starter of a car, but adds to the period flavor.

Basically, I like it because it sets the story solidly in its era.


message 32: by Mohammed (last edited Jul 29, 2012 04:40AM) (new)

Mohammed (Maxamed) | 442 comments Heh i was reading an introduction by Michael Moorcock in Leigh Brackett book, he compared her to Chandler,Hammett,Jack London,other important Californian authors in their talent to capture the lingo, the way people on their streets talked in those days.

Thats one of reasons for reading quality books from then. Pink elephants and the slang you get used to. How people liked to sound,speak then is very interesting.


message 33: by Cyndi (last edited Jul 30, 2012 09:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cyndi (BookChick64) | 50 comments So I will finally get to pick this up from the library today. Since I have already read and immensely enjoyed The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon, I will read it through August...but I will still participate with the Yiddish Discussion. Happy reading, all.


John (johntai) | 4 comments Adam wrote: "John, that sentence you picked out as problematic for you is great. It doesn't seem weird to me, but I'm totally mired in the period. In short, "pink elephants" is a term used for delerium tremens ..."

Adam, thanks so much for explaining the whole sentence. I googled pink elephants, so I got that part, and I got the general meaning of giving some type of drug for hangovers, but I still didn't get the "fast set" part.

Did I mention I'm Italian? My English is ok for modern prose, but I've never read anything like this. I'll hit this forum more in the future if I encounter something like this that I don't get. It's very interesting to me.


Franky | 156 comments The first time I read Chandler (when I read The Big Sleep), the prose was hard to difficult to get adjusted to. But, it was much more smooth in this book for some reason. Maybe it just takes a few novels to get used to it.


message 36: by Michael, Anti-Hero (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael (Knowledgelost) | 268 comments Mod
I think that this book was just an easier read. Maybe The Big Sleep had too much complexity to it.


Adam | 102 comments Glad I could help, John.

If you're confused about '40s and '50s lingo, another great spot to check out is backalleynoir.com ... the people there are pretty knowledgeable.


Cyndi (BookChick64) | 50 comments I enjoyed this Marlow entry far more than The Big Sleep. It was taut, well plotted and fast paced. The mystery wasn't so difficult, but the characters were. Epitomized Noir.


Richard Taylor | 17 comments John wrote: "I just found this group and I'd like to jump in with this month's pick. However I haven't read any Chandler book, so should I read them in order starting with The Big Sleep? Since they're not too l..."

I don't think you need to read them in order but I think it would add to the context, especially when you get to The Long Goodbye


Richard Taylor | 17 comments Franky wrote: "Did anyone happen to ever watch the film version of Lady in the Lake (1947) on DVD?

I just watched it on netflix and couldn't stand it. It tries this experimental direction where the camera (and ..."


I tend to agree re:the film version. didn't mind the POV as much as I did the complete lack of scenes in the mountains which were key in the book.


Richard Taylor | 17 comments Mohammed wrote: "I havet read Chandler in years now and you guys hailing this book and Bogar version of Big sleep make wonder if the series is as strong after book 2."

In my opinion, The Big Sleep,Farewell My Lovely,Lady In the Lake and The Long Goodby are all great novels. I must re-read The High Window because it was so forgettable I forgot most of it. By the way,did anyone else notice that The Big Sleep has holes in the plot that are not only left unresolved but dropped by the author halfway through the story? I refer to the limo off the pier business and all it connects to.


Jonathan Mitchell | 34 comments Great book. I love Sheriff Patton.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Big Sleep (other topics)
Poodle Springs (other topics)
The Long Goodbye (other topics)
Wise Blood (other topics)
The Yiddish Policemen's Union (other topics)
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Flannery O'Connor (other topics)