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Philip Marlowe #3

The High Window

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Toby Stephens stars in this BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Raymond Chandler’s third Philip Marlowe mystery.

Fast-talking, trouble-seeking private eye Philip Marlowe is a different kind of detective: a moral man in an amoral world. California in the ’40s and ’50s is as beautiful as a ripe fruit and rotten to the core, and Marlowe must struggle to retain his integrity amidst the corruption he encounters daily.

In The High Window, Marlowe starts out on the trail of a single stolen coin and ends up knee-deep in bodies. His client, a dried-up husk of a woman, wants him to recover a rare gold coin called a Brasher Doubloon, missing from her late husband’s collection. That’s the simple part.

But Marlowe finds that everyone who handles the coin suffers a run of very bad luck: they always end up dead. If Marlowe doesn’t wrap this one up fast, he’s going to end up in jail - or worse, in a box in the ground.

Starring Toby Stephens, this thrilling dramatisation by Robin Brooks retains all the wry humour of Chandler’s serpentine suspense novel. It was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 8 October 2011.

265 pages, Paperback

First published August 17, 1942

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About the author

Raymond Chandler

468 books4,673 followers
Raymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.

In 1932, at age forty-four, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In addition to his short stories, Chandler published just seven full novels during his lifetime (though an eighth in progress at his death was completed by Robert B. Parker). All but Playback have been realized into motion pictures, some several times. In the year before he died, he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died on March 26, 1959, in La Jolla, California.

Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. Chandler's Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett's Sam Spade, are considered by some to be synonymous with "private detective," both having been played on screen by Humphrey Bogart, whom many considered to be the quintessential Marlowe.

Some of Chandler's novels are considered to be important literary works, and three are often considered to be masterpieces: Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Little Sister (1949), and The Long Goodbye (1953). The Long Goodbye is praised within an anthology of American crime stories as "arguably the first book since Hammett's The Glass Key, published more than twenty years earlier, to qualify as a serious and significant mainstream novel that just happened to possess elements of mystery".

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Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,359 reviews11.8k followers
March 13, 2022

Like all of Raymond Chandler’s novels, The High Window features private detective Philip Marlowe as first-person narrator reporting events unfolding as he attempts to crack a case in sun-soaked Los Angeles. I marvel at his perceptiveness and cleverness. Can anybody surpass Marlowe in his ability to see all the angles, to size people up, to catch all the clues, to ask the right questions, to crack wise at those times cracking wise is the wisest, to put the puzzle together so all the pieces fit in place? Maybe Sam Spade or other top dog dicks but that's about it. Oh, clever Odysseus, who fooled the Cyclopes, who heard the song of the Sirens and lived to tell the tale, Raymond Chandler gave you a rebirth as a private eye.

For anybody unfamiliar with Chandler, here is a snatch of dialogue taking place in Marlowe's office when a member of a very rich family comes to speak with the detective:

He looked me over without haste and without much pleasure. He blew some smoke delicately and spoke through it with a faint sneer.
"You're Marlowe?"
I nodded.
"I'm a little disappointed," he said. "I rather expected something with dirty fingers."
"Come inside," I said, "and you can be witty sitting down."
I held the door for him and he strolled past me flicking cigarette ash on the floor with the middle nail of his free hand. He sat down . . . He leaned back in his chair with the smile of a bored aristocrat.
"All set?" I inquired. "Pulse and respiration normal?" You wouldn't like a cold towel on your head or anything."

Through Marlowe, Chandler introduces us to a host of gangsters, crooks, con-artists, thugs, goons and their dames who take turns planning, threatening and committing violence as if they were flesh-and-blood members of the weasel patrol from Toontown.

Here is another bit of dialogue where Marlowe watches from behind a curtain as a shady nightclub manager speaks to his wife after they find his wife's boyfriend shot in the head:

Silence. Then the sound of a blow. The woman wailed. She was hurt, terribly hurt. Hurt in the depths of her soul. She made it rather good.
"Look, angel," Morny snarled. "Don't feed me the ham. I've been in pictures. I'm a connoisseur of ham. Skip it. You're going to tell me how this was done if I have to drag you around the room by your hair. Now - did you wipe off the gun?"

Philip Marlowe is not only an incredibly super-sharp observer, but he is also an intelligent, well-educated, highly ethical man. Two cases in point: when the name Heathcliff is mentioned, he knows the character is from Wuthering Heights and when someone shows him entries in a diary, he alludes to the Diary of Samuel Pepys.

This contrast between the crime and social grime of 1940s Los Angeles and the presence of Philip Marlow gives Chandler's work real abiding depth.

There are hundreds of authors, some very good, who have written detective fiction or crime fiction but what sets Raymond Chandler apart is the polished literary language matching any American author, including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Falkner.

This is the prime reason I have included the above quotes and the reason I will end this review with another sparkling vintage Chandler quote, this one where Marlowe describes the woman he sees when being led by a tall, dark, olive skinned crook to the back yard of a suburban LA mansion:

"A long-limbed languorous type of showgirl blond lay at her ease in one of the chairs, with her feet raised on a padded rest and a tall misted glass at her elbow, near a silver ice bucket and a Scotch bottle. She looked at us lazily as we came over the grass. From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away. Her mouth was too wide, her eyes were too blue, her makeup was too vivid, the thin arch of her eyebrows was almost fantastic in its curve and spread, and the mascara was so thick on her eyelashes that they looked like miniature iron railings."

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
April 20, 2022
The High Window (Philip Marlowe #3), Raymond Chandler

The High Window is a 1942 novel written by Raymond Chandler. It is his third novel featuring the Los Angeles private detective Philip Marlowe. A wealthy Pasadena widow with a mean streak, a missing daughter-in-law with a past, and a gold coin worth a small fortune—the elements don't quite add up until Marlowe discovers evidence of murder, rape, blackmail, and the worst kind of human exploitation.

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «پنجره بالایی»؛ «پنجره مرتفع»؛ نویسنده: ریموند چندلر؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز سوم ماه می سال2008میلادی

عنوان: پنجره بالایی؛ نویسنده: ریموند چندلر؛ مترجم: فتح الله جعفری جوزانی؛ تهران، شوکا، سال1386، در286ص؛ شابک9789648005868؛ عنوان دیگر پنجره ی مرتفع؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

عنوان: پنجره مرتفع؛ نویسنده: ریموند چندلر؛ مترجم حسن زیادلو؛ تهران، هزارافسان، سال1387، در336ص؛ شابک9789649174693؛ عنوان دیگر پنجره ی بالایی؛

داستان درگیری کاراگاه «مارلو» با ماجرای جعل سکه ی «براشر دابلون (سکه ای امریکای سال1787میلادی»؛ و جنایتهای دور و بر آن است؛ خانم «الیزابت برایت مورداک»، می‌خواستند کاراگاه خصوصی پاک و تمیزی استخدام نمایند، که خاکستر سیگارش را روی زمین نریزد، و هیچ‌گاه بیشتر از یک اسلحه با خود حمل نکند؛ او سکه‌ ی نایابی را گم کرده بود؛ وی می‌دانست چه کسی آن را دزدیده است؛ او «مارلو» را استخدام کرد، تا آن سکه را برایش بیاورد؛ و اینکار را هم با عجله‌ ی تمام انجام دهد، زیرا خانم «مورداک»، چیزهایی برای پنهان کردن داشت، حتی از «مارلو»؛ سکه صحیح و سالم بازگردانده شد، ولی این تفتیش‌ها، رشته‌ جنایت‌هایی را آشکار کرد؛ وجود یک حق‌ السکوت بگیر باوقار؛ مارلو، در تنگنا قرار گرفته بود؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 25/03/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 30/01/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
458 reviews3,242 followers
October 11, 2022
Now our friend Philip Marlowe, a private dick in Los Angeles during the 1940's , is a nice guy...most of the time, he wouldn't murder anyone who didn't need it, maybe not real accurate, but in this novel he does let two killers escape justice...the victims were worst than the perpetrators. An opinion I'm sure the readers will concur... In Pasadena, a small, quiet, wealthy city outside L.A. lives in one of those mansions that some people envy, other hate a certain Mrs. Elizabeth Bright Murdock, twice widowed...one under very strange circumstances...he fell out of a high window, thus the title. The intoxicated lady is a little rotund, the kind who can't see her feet if she were to stand up, which she seldom will. Not a heart of gold either...more like stone..because of illness, asthma, consumes a vast quantity of Portuguese Port wine... feeling no pain, a very sweet taste (a favorite of George Washington ). Mr. Marlowe is required to find the priceless gold coin stolen from her, the Brasher Doubloon, in her late husband's collection apparently by Linda Conquest , who left in a hurry, not happy, a former singer in night clubs, her weak son's Leslie's, wife.... but dear old mother, loves him... the jerk...he has surprise, huge gambling debts. And they , a bunch of vicious criminals want their money... In the tense, dark environment, inside the huge , suffocating and dreary mausoleum where the timid frightened servants, quake serving Mrs. Murdock, but enough praise of this structure. Also there is a small quiet room, a hidden cubicle, little known about , of its existence in the rather now quaint, some unkind ignorant people will say ...what ...An
edifice , an oasis, Merle Davis, where Mrs. Murdoch's fragile, pleasant secretary works.. Enchanted oddly by, Leslie...she has a mystery in her past...with a gun in her desk . Events that follow are the usual slaughter of the despicable, the sleazy and the poor pathetic humans that inhabit the smoggy metropolis, a little blackmail on the side, gangsters looking around too. They the tough police, are always suspicious of a man who continuously finds dead bodies. Still he claims his innocence, but this is becoming let us say unbelievable. For an obviously bright guy, Marlowe is in a racket that pays little...peanuts... why ? The reason he enjoys the dark brooding atmosphere, the excitement, the police harassment , beautiful women in distress needing his help and comfort. He feels alive, not a nobody then , shall we say a hero, something his tight lips would never or could ever speak such a strange, four- letter word, rather peculiar, for today, very unfashionable too, in a cynical age...
Raymond Chandler again reveals his prodigious talent , letting the public see the underworld of a town called Hollywood, ( he lived and worked there) only this writer can show so well, like it or not...undoubtedly the majority will enjoy.
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.5k followers
February 18, 2019

In this worthy companion to The Big Sleep and Farewell My Lovely. Marlowe tracks a rare colonial coin called "The Brasher Doubloon," finds a corpse, clears an innocent suspect, and--ever the knight in tarnished armor--rescues a damsel in distress.

This novel features a handful of well-drawn stock characters: an iron dowager and her entourage (consisting of an effete son and a mousy secretary), a B-movie actor turned big-time gambler who is protected by a six-foot-five henchman (both with scars), round-heeled ex-showgirl Lois Magic, gin-joint contralto Linda Conquest--and a good no-nonsense middle-aged cop named Breeze.

And--of course--those great overheated Chandler metaphors!
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 9 books6,915 followers
June 28, 2018
The High Window is another excellent novel featuring Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled L.A. detective, Philip Marlowe, although to my mind it's not quite on a par with Chandler's masterpieces, The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye.

The case opens when a wealthy, twice-widowed Pasadena woman named Elizabeth Bright Murdock hires Marlowe to discreetly recover a valuable coin that has been stolen from her first's husband's collection. The client insists that her daughter-in-law, whom she hates, has taken the coin although she has no proof. The daughter-in-law has either left or been driven from the home. Mrs. Murdock wants Marlowe to quietly find the woman and get the coin back. The police are most certainly not to be involved.

All in all, this is a pretty strange household that also includes Mrs. Murdock's wimpy son and a severely repressed young secretary whom the widow treats like a doormat. Marlowe takes the case, although he pretty much knows from the git-go that everyone is lying to him, including his client.

Well of course they are, and before long poor Marlowe is up to his neck in a case that involves gambling, infidelity, blackmail and a small handful of murders. As is the case with any Raymond Chandler plot, it's all pretty confusing, although in the end, this one gets sorted out better than most.

As always, it's great fun to follow Marlowe through these tangled webs and, as always, the book is beautifully written in a style that has often been imitated but never matched. Raymond Chandler and his tattered detective were each one of a kind.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,828 followers
May 26, 2014
Whenever I review one of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels I feel like I should be doing it with a half-bottle of rye on the desk next to the cigarette burning in an ashtray with my fedora pushed back on my head. But I quit smoking years ago, and I don’t bounce back from hangovers quite the way I used to so I try not to chug whiskey from the bottle these days unless it‘s a dire emergency. Maybe I can still get the hat….

Marlowe gets hired by a ball-busting old bag who thinks that that the daughter-in-law she despises ran off with a valuable rare gold coin from her late husband’s collection. As usual Marlowe soon finds himself wrapped up in a mess including several murders as he is forced to preserve the confidentiality of a client he doesn’t like against cops pressing him for answers.

This was a Chandler I hadn’t read before, and I had a surprisingly hard time getting into it for some reason. After a while the lines like “From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet she looked something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.’ got me into the groove, and while I wouldn’t call it the best Marlowe I’ve read, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

The thing that nudge it from a solid 3 stars to 4 was the ending.

It won’t be replacing The Big Sleep on my All-Time Greatest Detective Novel list, but it’s still Chandler in fine form.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,496 reviews962 followers
February 27, 2016

She saw the cut glass decanter, took the stopper out, poured herself a drink and tossed it down with a quick flip of the wrist.
“You’re a man named Marlowe?” she asked, looking at me. She put her hips against the end of the desk and crossed her ankles.
I said I was a man named Marlowe.
“By and large,” she said, “I am quite sure I am not going to like you one damn little bit. So speak your piece and drift away.”

It’s a hard-boiled world out there, and a man named Marlowe must go down into its sewers in his pursuit of what we can probably name “The Mystery of the Brasher Doubloon”. In an opening scene that induces in the reader familiar with Chandler’s novels a strong feeling of deja-vu, Marlowe is called to an opulent mansion by a cranky old person of feeble health and given an easy job : not to find a missing young woman, but to track down a missing, very rare and precious gold coin.

All I knew about the people was that they were a Mrs. Elizabeth Bright Murdock and family and that she wanted to hire a nice clean private detective who wouldn’t drop cigar ashes on the floor and never carried more than one gun.

What she gets instead is “Phil Marlowe. The shop-soiled Galahad.” , the disillusioned gumshoe with the sharp eye and the whiplash repartee. Marlowe smells a rat right from the start, but the rent must be paid and so he sets out to the mean streets, where heavy gamblers are slapping their moes, suave funeral directors manage the crime in the neighborhood, cops are only too willing to frame you for murder, young upstart detectives get chewed on as appetizers by the local sharks, clues lead from rundown dental businesses to posh and illegal gambling dens, and beautiful starlets are as trustworthy as hungry hyenas.

Chandler didn’t get to the top of my noir catalogue for his convoluted and improbable plot twists. It was always, right from the first page I read back in my school day, all about atitude and style. I haven’t revisited his dark universe recently, fearing my youthful enthusiasm will not survive a more critical view, but I discovered instead that the thrill is still there, and that the lyrical side of Marlowe is today even more appealing than his tough guy delivery:

Bunker Hill is old town, lost town, shabby town, crook town. Once, very long ago, it was the choice residential district of the city, and there are still standing a few of the jigsaw Gothic mansions with wide porches and walls covered with round-end shingles and full corner bay windows with spindle turrets. They are all rooming houses now, their parquetry floors are scratched and worn through the once glossy finish and the wide sweeping staircases are dark with time and with cheap varnish laid on over generations of dirt. In the tall rooms haggard landladies bicker with shifty tenants. On the wide cool front porches, reaching their cracked shoes into the sun, and staring at nothing, sit the old men with faces like lost battles.
Out of the apartment houses come women who should be young but have faces like stale beer; men with pulled-down hats and quick eyes that look the street over behind cupped hand that shields the match flame; worn intellectuals with cigarette coughs and no money in the bank; fly cops with granite faces and unwavering eyes; cokies and coke peddlers; people who look like nothing in particular and know it, and once in a while even men that actually go to work. But they come out early, when the wide cracked sidewalks are empty and still have dew on them.

No other crime writer has been able to replicate these soul damning similes or to match the sarcastic commentary on the predatory world the private detective must navigate, while keeping true to his inner sense of justice. Even when not firing from all cylinders, like in the case of the present novel, Chandler is still in a league of his own . He can make even a grocery list or a bland description of his office sound like poetry:

Three hard chairs and a swivel chair, flat desk with a glass top, five green filing cases, three of them full of nothing, a calendar and a framed license bond on the wall, a phone, a washbowl in a stained wood cupboard, a hatrack, a carpet that was just something on the floor, and two open windows with net curtains that puckered in and out like the lips of a toothless old man sleeping.
The same stuff I had had last year, and the year before that. Not beautiful, not gay, but better than a tent on the beach.

I am pretty sure I will not remember much of the plot five years from now, which might actually be a bonus, since I can re-read the novel and still enjoy some surprises – like why is the title referring to a window, when the mission is about a gold coin? . I may also forget some of Marlowe’s mannerisms and habits, and be again surprised that he smokes a pipe instead of cigarettes, and that he would rather play chess by himself at home than drink every night in a bar. What I would most like to remember are a few more of the lines from this novel, so here are the last bookmarks I made:

- a commentary on the Agatha Christie style of crime novel and

“All right,” he said wearily. “Get on with it. I have a feeling you are going to be very brilliant. Remorseless flow of logic and intuition and all that rot. Just like a detective in a book.”
“Sure. Taking the evidence piece by piece, putting it all together in a neat pattern, sneaking in an odd bit I had on my hip here and there, analyzing the motives and characters and making them out to be quite different from what anybody – or I myself for that matter – thought them to be up to this golden moment – and finally making a sort of world-weary pounce on the least promising suspect.”

- two examples of the fast dialogue that sound just like those classic black and white movies from the forties:

“Don’t get me sore at you,” the carroty man said briefly.
“That would bother me like two percent of nothing at all”

-- -- --
“Mr Grandy, could you use a five dollar bill – not as a bribe in any sense, but as a token of esteem from a sincere friend?”
“Son, I could use a five dollar bill so rough Abe Lincoln’s whiskers would be all lathered up with sweat.”

- and a final image to take home and to cherish like one of those haiku gems:

The white moonlight was cold and clear, like the justice we dream of but don’t find.
Profile Image for Charles  van Buren.
1,724 reviews180 followers
March 20, 2022
Some years ago I came across a critic who said that Raymond Chandler wrote like a fallen angel. I wish I could remember his name because I think that's a pretty good description of Chandler's writing. An angel because of the quality of the writing itself. A fallen angel because of the gritty subjects and characters about whom he wrote.

THE HIGH WINDOW is no exception. Vintage Chandler doing what he did best.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,930 reviews10.6k followers
January 25, 2012
Philip Marlowe is hired to find the Brasher doubloon, a valuable gold coin stolen from its owner. Marlowe trails the owner's daughter in law, thinking she stole the coin. Marlowe's path leads him into a web of murder and blackmail. Will Marlowe be able to find who stole the doubloon without winding up on the pile of corpses left in its wake?

As I continuously mention, noir fiction of this type agrees with me like a bottle of Mad Dog does a homeless man. The High Window, Raymond Chandler's third Philip Marlowe book, is no exception.

A wise man once said "No one reads Raymond Chandler for the plot." I agree with whomever that wizzened old sage was. Chandler never met a plot he couldn't overly complicate but The High Window is one of his more coherent ones. The search for a stolen doubloon sees multiple men dead and a wealthy family's secrets pulled out of the basement and thrown on the front lawn for all the neighbors to see.

Marlowe is Marlowe. As usual, much of the supporting cast exists mostly for Marlowe to bounce great lines off of and/or have sapping or shooting at him. The Bright family is a bunch of rotten apples one and all.

As I said before, this is one of Chandler's simpler plots but it's still a bit of a mess. It took me a little while to tip to the connection between the dentist and the missing coin. The blackmail angle was well done. Chandler played his cards close to the vest, like always. "It just made me want to climb up the wall and gnaw my way across the ceiling." Marlowe used that line to describe a drink he took. That's how I felt about the plot sometimes.

It's no surprise by now that Chandler's prose is the star of the show. I mentioned in my review of Farewell, My Lovely, that Chandler's prose sometimes reminded me of a gritty P.G. Wodehouse. I've since learned that Chandler spent a lot of his early life in England so that's a little easier to understand now.

While it's my least favorite of the three Chandler books I've read so far, The High Window is still a great read, if for no other reason than to experience Raymond Chandler's prose. Not quite a four but it's an overflowing three star read.
Profile Image for robin friedman.
1,795 reviews221 followers
September 3, 2021
The Shop-Soiled Galahad

"The High Window" (1942) is the third of Raymond Chandler's novels featuring the detective Philip Marlowe. Marlowe tells the story in his own inimitable voice. The action of the story takes place over a three day period in 1941 in Los Angeles. Marlowe is faced with a confusing series of crimes including murder, counterfeiting, robbery, and blackmail.

The plotting is difficult and cumbersome in following the different crimes; but all is explained, perhaps too neatly, in the end. There is a lengthy denouement in which Marlowe explains to several of the characters of the book the parties who have committed the crimes and their motives. Marlowe shows great acuity and powers of observation in working through the tangled situation.

In "The High Window" more than in the earlier two Marlowe books, the plotting gets in the way. It detracts from what are otherwise outstanding features of the book in its writing, its descriptive passages of Los Angeles and its development of a host of mostly unsavory characters. The strongest part of the book is the characterization of Marlowe himself which becomes deeper than in the early novels. Late in the book, a friend of Marlowe's describes him as the "shop-soiled Galahad", a phrase which sums up much of Marlowe's activities and character

Marlowe is retained by a wealthy curmudgeonly widow, Elizabeth Murdock, to investigate what the widow believes is the theft of a rare early American coin, the Brasher Doubloon, by her daughter-in-law, who is estranged from her son. Besides the widow Murdock, her hapless son Leslie, who cannot hold a job and is heavily in debt from gambling and Merle, Mrs. Murdock's timid, shy secretary, play large roles in the story.

Marlowe does not get along with either Elizabeth or Leslie Murdock. Investigating the doubloon's disappearance leads Marlowe deep into other crimes, and the police even suspect him of holding back information on the murders which follow in the wake of the doubloon. The crimes require great perceptiveness to resolve. But the emphasis on the book is on Marlowe's character in remaining loyal to the Murdocks even though he dislikes them intensely for good reason. He keeps the family out of harm's way with the law. More important still is Marlowe's idealism and his desire to do the right thing. As the story develops, he learns how and why Merle's life has become emotionally stunted during her years working for Mrs. Murdock. He takes it upon himself to rescue her from a poisonous situation in a way that goes well beyond any duty he had undertaken to Mrs. Murdock as a private detective. Marlowe shows moral heroism while in the midst of a tarnished, often violent life of a private detective. Marlowe does his job, speaks brilliantly and poetically, is highly educated, and recognizes the characters of the people with whom he deals. There is a great deal of atmosphere in the book with nightclubbing, sultry singing, suits and hats and cars, cigarettes, pipes, and cigars, and alcohol. Marlowe also is a student of chess. With all the surroundings of 1940's life, some of which are highly appealingly portrayed, and a great deal of less than stellar behavior, Marlowe indeed emerges, more so than in the two earlier books, as a moral hero and as a "shop-soiled Galahad".

The tough, inspired portrayal of Marlowe with his idealism and loyalty in a world shown as fallen more than make up for the complications of the plot in this novel. In this and in his other Marlowe novels, Chandler created an iconic American character. The book is available individually or as part of the first of two Library of America volumes including the "Stories and Early Novels" of Raymond Chandler.

Robin Friedman.
Profile Image for Gary Inbinder.
Author 8 books172 followers
March 18, 2017
A rich, twice widowed lush who likes to bully people, especially her mousey secretary and wimpy son, hires Marlowe to find a valuable coin, a Brasher Doubloon, and the ex-nightclub entertainer daughter-in-law who the old bat suspects of having absconded with the rare gold piece. In the course of his investigation, Marlowe encounters the usual cast of noir characters: losers, drunks, low-life criminals, corrupt rich people, blackmailers, brassy broads, tough cops, a frozen-eyed henchman, and dead bodies. So why is The High Window a great novel? I'll point to some characteristics that apply to all Chandler's writing.
1. Word Painting: Read one of Chandler's poetic passages describing the Los Angeles street scene ca. 1940. Loneliness, alienation, and despair with an underlying tension, an excitement that draws Marlowe, and the reader, onto the mean streets, from the wealthiest mansions down into the dumps and dives. A glossy surface covering the rot. No one before or since has done it better than Chandler.
2. Characterization: Many of the characters could be stereotypes but Chandler focuses on details, especially psychological tics and physical quirks, habits, dress, mannerisms, which make the characters memorable. And that begins with Marlowe, who, to paraphrase Chandler, is a tough guy who walks the mean streets but is not himself mean. Marlowe operates according to a code of honor, the ethics of his often-despised profession and something approaching gallantry. He's a knight-errant in a modern world. And he's smarter, indeed much smarter, than the average snoop.
3. First person narrative and dialogue: Chandler created a unique voice and made it believable, and he raised the wise crack to a high art. And the erudite Marlowe can crack wise about Hemingway—in "Farewell My Lovely"—and Samuel Pepys diary in "The High Window". He can smoke a pipe and work chess problems like Sherlock Holmes while guzzling cheap booze like a typical pulp fiction shamus.
The only downsides to reading Chandler are the occasional racial and ethnic slurs, the sexism and homophobia that are typical of the period. But those things we despise are part of Marlowe's world, and any attempt to portray that world without all its "warts" would be unauthentic. In sum, the greatest compliment I can pay to Chandler is that, as a writer, I learn something about my craft each time I read him.
Profile Image for Francesc.
392 reviews193 followers
May 30, 2019
He disfrutado mucho, a pesar de ser una edición antigua. Me gustan las ediciones antiguas. Son muy Chandler. Son muy Marlowe.
Es una lectura muy divertida y entretenida. He reído mucho con el cinismo marlowiano. A quién le guste el auténtico Marlowe, le gustará "The High Window".
Profile Image for Ben Winch.
Author 4 books345 followers
October 13, 2022
For those of you who haven’t yet read Chandler, I’m here to tell you, the man can write. You read him for the words, for the atmosphere, not for plot. The High Window itself has nothing special to recommend it; it’s another instalment, one of many roughly equally as good. (First time around The Lady in the Lake was my favourite; my wife, who read them all this year, liked The Long Goodbye.) But it’s the one I re-read last week (cos it’s tight, short, cuts to the punch) so it’ll do.

The Belfont Building was eight stories of nothing in particular that had got itself pinched off between a large green and chromium cut-rate suit emporium and a three-storey and basement garage that made a noise like lion cages at feeding time. The small dark narrow lobby was as dirty as a chicken yard. The building directory had a lot of vacant space on it. [...] There were two open-grille elevators but only one seemed to be running and that not busy. An old man sat inside it slack-jawed and watery-eyed on a piece of folded burlap on top of a wooden stool. He looked as if he had been sitting there since the Civil War and had come out of that badly.

Thing is, Chandler (it seems) could churn out this stuff in his sleep. Every building’s a Belfont Building, or as vivid; every elevator operator a Civil War veteran, or as colourful; every character – from the “long-limbed languorous” showgirl (“From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.”) to the “hard boy” (“A great long gallows of a man with a ravaged face and a haggard frozen right eye that had a clotted iris and the steady look of blindness.”) – as realised as can be for as long as their in sight. And here’s the clincher: “in sight”? So who’s watching? Probably the greatest near-non-entity hero/anti-hero short of Kafka’s K., P.I. Philip Marlowe, who puts the “eye” in private eye, whose gaze, thanks to British poet turned Black Mask pulp-magazine workhorse Raymond Chandler’s near-impossible deftness, is as sharp and resplendent as they come. How does he do it? Give this hard-bitten hard-boiled hard-drinking tough guy such eloquence? It’s something to see. And somehow, though (or because) we know virtually nothing about him, this fragile word-edifice that is Marlowe convinces us utterly. We love the guy. Who cares if the plots barely add up, or if by the time they do we’re past caring? When he talks tender to the femmes fatales I defy you (women especially – Chandler, against the odds, and despite low-grade ingrained chauvinism indicative of his times, is a ladies’ man) not to feel a shiver. It’s limited in range; but for the slightest tweaks it never changes, but for what it is it’s of a very high order, beyond Hammett (Chandler’s inventor), beyond genre, unique (despite the imitators) as few so-called genre writers ever have been. When at the end of The High Window he drives the innocent young woman victim to her parents’ home in Wichita and says goodbye, I almost teared up at his laconic summation:

I had a funny feeling as I saw the house disappear, as though I had written a poem and it was very good and I had lost it and would never remember it again.

Sure, maybe that’s all Chandler is, a poem he’s forgotten. But what a poem! It could break your heart.
Profile Image for Emma.
2,438 reviews830 followers
May 31, 2017
‘All right. Get on with it. I have a feeling you are going to be very brilliant. Remorseless, flow of logic and intuition and all that rot. Just like a detective in a book.’

I really like Philip Marlowe, I've decided. I want to look after him. He's actually a stand up guy. In this book I really preferred the simpler plot (not that Chandler's plots are ever terribly complicated). Has this one been made into a movie? As with all of this series, they all seem very cinematic to me, like half remembered movies from long ago. But I'm not sure if that's my imagination or faded memories.
So far in this series, Philip Marlowe has almost been an entity outside of Chandlers writing, and had an entertainment value almost divorced of the book. Oh yeah, Philip Marlowe hard boiled- noir- gumshoe- classic- wise-crackin- smart talking etc etc. even if you've never read one of the books. In this story I felt like I realised Marlowe is a real person and I was a little embarrassed to have been caught smirking at the idea of him.

He's an honest guy essentially. He treats people with respect when they deserve it-or at least when they don't deserve rudeness- he's committed to seeing justice, loyal to his clients, he can hold his own with tough crooks and won't take any nonsense. He is smart. As you can probably tell, I have a crush on a fictional character. It's not the first time! Where are his friends? He needs a love interest. I adore the fact he plays through champion chess games by himself, for leisure.
Recommended but start with book 1!
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,431 reviews2,511 followers
August 24, 2022
'Sit down and rest your sex appeal.'

That one line alone from Lois Magic would be enough to get four stars from me, even though this isn't one of the best Marlowe plots. It feels a bit like Chandler is writing on the hoof and has no idea where he's going so it starts with a theft, then a murder is thrown in, then another, and yes, another, while the plot goes haywire with another murder in the past and madness and blackmail and lots of violence against women and a seedy nightclub and gambling debts and young women on the make (Linda Conquest, who used to room with Lois Magic - natch!)...

But despite the mayhem, Marlowe stays cool and laconic, plays a chess problem, drinks and smokes a lot, and rescues another young woman in distress ('Phil Marlowe', he said. 'The shop-soiled Galahad') while duelling with the monstrous Mrs Elizabeth Bright Murdock. (Am I the only one to find these books misogynistic?)

In the third outing for the iconic Marlowe, the plot can drag a bit but the writing seems sharper than ever.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
May 7, 2020
“All right,” he said wearily. “Get on with it. I have a feeling you are going to be very brilliant. Remorseless flow of logic and intuition and all that rot. Just like a detective in a book.”

“Sure. Taking the evidence piece by piece, putting it all together in a neat pattern, sneaking in an odd bit I had on my hip here and there, analyzing the motives and characters and making them out to be quite different from what anybody – or I myself for that matter – thought them to be up to this golden moment – and finally making a sort of world-weary pounce on the least promising suspect.”

I can safely say I have never yet had the pleasure of reading this Raymond Chandler novel, standing as it does in the shadows of such works as The Big Sleep and Farewell, My Lovely. In this one, smooth and wise-cracking–this is how you know it’s American noir –Philip Marlowe essentially rescues a young lady by the name of Merle Davis--a secretary, a woman who seems to be particularly traumatized at the touch of men--from her employers.

As the novel opens Marlowe visits a potential client in Pasadena, Elizabeth Bright Murdock, a wealthy widow who seems to mistreat the above secretary and who thinks her daughter-in-law has taken her valuable Brasher Doubloon. Said daughter-in-law is estranged from her loser son, Leslie, who is steeped in gambling debts. So the missing Doubloon and a series of related heists, double-crosses and assorted murders, the whole dizzyingly complex/confusing plot, really, turn out to be just a kind of red herring to main things we discover in the novel: The rich characterization of detective Phillip Marlowe, and Chandler’s wonderful attention to language.

There’s also the usual noir collection of odd-ball characters: B-movie actors, tough guys with one eye or scars, and women with questionable names such as (ex-showgirl) Lois Magic and “singer” Linda Conquest, whom Marlowe assesses in a photograph:

"A wide cool go-to-hell mouth with very kissable lips.

You either like this smirking, wise-guy style or not, but of this style he is perhaps the very master. And sometimes when he is writing description, he is just great. Here’s some examples of both:

“From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away. Her mouth was too wide, her eyes were too blue, her makeup was too vivid, the thin arch of her eyebrows was almost fantastic in its curve and spread, and the mascara was so thick on her eyelashes that they looked like miniature iron railings."

“A check girl in peach-bloom Chinese pajamas came over to take my hat and disapprove of my clothes. She had eyes like strange sins.”

“She had pewter-colored hair set in a ruthless permanent, a hard beak and moist eyes with the sympathetic expression of wet stones.”

“I looked at the ornaments on the desk. Everything standard and all copper. A copper lamp, pen set and pencil tray, a glass and copper ashtray with a copper elephant on the rim, a copper letter opener, a copper thermos bottle on a copper tray, copper corners on the blotter holder. There was a spray of almost copper-colored sweet peas in a copper vase.

It seemed like a lot of copper.”

“. . . the old men with faces like lost battles.”

“Out of the apartment houses come women who should be young but have faces like stale beer; men with pulled-down hats and quick eyes that look the street over behind the cupped hand that shields the match flame; worn intellectuals with cigarette coughs and no money in the bank; fly cops with granite faces and unwavering eyes; cokies and coke peddlers; people who look like nothing in particular and know it, and once in a while even men that actually go to work. But they come out early, when the wide cracked sidewalks are empty and still have dew on them.”

“The white moonlight was cold and clear, like the justice we dream of but don’t find.”

Again, it's not my very favorite, but it is smooth, just like Kentucky Bourbon.

Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,977 followers
February 5, 2022
Damn, what fine prose.

Sometimes funny, mostly wry and sarcastic, this noir really ought to be on the top of any fan list. So much of our modern UF series takes all its cue from books like this.

The racism angle is hardly at play here, considering that this came out in 1942, instead focusing on the murder and mystery and the missing rare coin.

Why read it? Because of the damn prose. It's sharp, light, gritty, and you have this feeling like it might, at any point, sucker-punch you or cover you with kisses. Or in this case, make you queasy with the kind of learned helplessness that comes with victims of long abuse.

Frankly, I would have been perfectly a-OK if Marlowe did a bit of murder, but what really surprised me was the kind of subtlety and decision that went on in these pages.

And oddly, I had the impression that Marlowe was pulling a Poirot by the end. At least, that was the impression. It almost fooled me, too. :)
Profile Image for Janice.
19 reviews33 followers
May 15, 2012
One thing I can’t stand about Goodreads reviews is the compulsion that so many reviewers have of giving a detailed summary of the plot. Is there anything more dull than reading a poorly written plot summary of a book you’ve already read or want to read? So, I’m not going to discuss the plot here, other than to point out that the plot is wholly irrelevant (which is stating the obvious, to Chandler-afficiandos). Chandler’s plots are always convoluted MacGuffins used as a backdrop for Marlowe to exist within. The High Window, like most of Chandler’s ouvere, is about alienation - about being the only one that is sane and decent in a world completely devoid of morality - everyone is either a sleazy grifter or profoundly selfish and corrupt. Is there any wonder why Marlowe’s only friend is booze?

Although I love Raymond Chandler, and enjoyed this book - parts of it really dragged. Even though I previously emphasized that the plot is immaterial, that doesn’t mean it should be boring, and here, at times, it was. The best parts of this novel were Marlowe’s caustic bon mots. Exhibit A: “You always have a gun lying around on your desk?”
“Except when it’s under my pillow,” I said. “Or under my arm. Or in the drawer of the desk. Or somewhere I can’t just remember where I happened to put it. That help you any?”
“We didn’t come here to get tough, Marlowe.”
“That’s fine,” I said. “So you prowl my apartment and handle my property without asking my permission. What do you do when you get tough - knock me down and kick me in the face?”
“Aw hell,” he said and grinned. I grinned back. We all grinned.

Exhibit B: From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,308 reviews20 followers
September 1, 2016
Another hard-boiled detective novel starring the quintessential noir detective, Philip Marlowe.

Our protagonist takes on a seemingly simple case involving a stolen gold doubloon but, this being a Chandler novel, the bodies soon start hitting the floor and Marlowe soon realises there's more to it than just a missing coin.

Marlowe seems to dial the misogyny down a notch in this one and becomes quite a sweet father figure to a 'damsel in distress' with some physical and mental health issues. Said damsel is still not very PC by today's standards, of course, but I'll take what I can get with writing as good as this.

Possibly my favourite Marlowe story so far. Right, onto the next one...
Profile Image for Dave.
3,014 reviews334 followers
February 18, 2020
And Justice For All

"The High Window" is the third book in Chandler's Philip Marlowe franchise. At this point in the series, an astute reader might just notice that Marlowe's clients are all rich folks in high-walled estates with numerous servants running cover for them. Perhaps they are the only ones who can afford his freight. And, perhaps the rich are different. They have such complicated problems hat ors almost impossible to untwist them. In another sense, though, Chandler, through Marlowe, is mocking the wealthy and their superior ways and all the dirty secrets buried in their past. You get that from the conversations Marlowe has with the lawn jockey ornament and from the flippant and non serious way he talks to his clients.

For all of Marlowe's cynical world-weary ways, he still believes in a kind of justice. He just finds it elusive in practice. There's too many deeds covered up, paid for, blackmailed. He wants so badly to believe he's Sir Galahad and he'll right all the wrongs, but he knows the rich and powerful get away with murder and he doesn't like it.

This one is as far from a shoot-em-up crime novel as you get. If anything, it's a puzzle that has to be a resolved.
Profile Image for Peter.
602 reviews84 followers
March 3, 2023
"From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away"

"High Window is the third in the series and sees Philip Marlowe trying to track down a rare gold coin that was part of a collection left to a mean spirited and totally unpleasant "dried up husk of a woman" who treats her highly strung secretary horribly, by her late husband.

A bit more of Marlowe's character is fleshed out in this book. We see that that under his hard shell lurks a big heart as he goes out of his way to help and take care of a seemingly innocent, long-suffering character. There seemed an added confidence in the writing which is as rich as ever, with some terrific descriptions of people and places, but I found it harder to engage with this one as much as I had the others. Marlowe is as hard-boiled, wise-cracking as ever but otherwise there aren't any really likeable characters in it. There is also a pervading cynicism throughout, intended I believe, that began to wear a bit thin towards the end. Despite that this book is worth reading for Chandler's writing style alone.
Profile Image for notgettingenough .
1,026 reviews1,184 followers
February 20, 2011
Chandler's a real pro. This feels like it tripped off the pen, like his kick from writing it is no less than ours from reading it. His great sense of timing isn't going to work out of context, so you are going to have to take my word for it.

Still...just this, in the middle of describing a character's face.

He had a long nose that would be into things.

I've read this sentence a hundred times now. Savoured it. Fantastic. The guy is sharp as when it comes to building pictures of people, of settings, of the world in which he lived. I wonder if he got into trouble in the witchhunts.

He is stylistically as timeless as Chekhov. I can't imagine in a hundred years he would have dated in any way.

I have no idea why on earth this wouldn't be considered literature with a big 'L'. Just none.
Profile Image for Tom Mathews.
662 reviews
January 28, 2016
What can I say? It's Philip Marlowe as written by Raymond Chandler. How can it not be just what the doctor ordered? Granted, there are rumors that Chandler was less than thrilled by the final product but seriously, wouldn't you really prefer the worst of Raymond Chandler over the best of Baldacci?

4.5 stars

FYI: On a 5-point scale I assign stars based on my assessment of what the book needs in the way of improvements:
*5 Stars – Nothing at all. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
*4 Stars – It could stand for a few tweaks here and there but it’s pretty good as it is.
*3 Stars – A solid C grade. Some serious rewriting would be needed in order for this book to be considered great or memorable.
*2 Stars – This book needs a lot of work. A good start would be to change the plot, the character development, the writing style and the ending.
*1 Star - The only thing that would improve this book is a good bonfire.
Profile Image for Brandon.
902 reviews233 followers
March 27, 2014
"The wind was quiet out here and the valley moonlight was so sharp that the black shadows looked as if they had been cut with an engraving tool."

Marlowe is tasked with tracking down and acquiring a stolen rare coin dubbed the Brasher Doubloon. Its owner, Mrs. Murdock, believes that her recently estranged daughter-in-law is the culprit. Unfortunately for Marlowe, there’s rarely ever an open and shut case and it isn’t long before he’s tied up in a web of deceit and murder.

I’m beginning to feel like there’s no such thing as a bad Marlowe story. While The High Window isn’t as quotable as The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, the case is just as interesting and the twists and turns in the story had me guessing right up to the end. It also doesn't hurt that the majority of the supporting cast are deplorable, shameless characters and while their actions affect others in ways they may not have intended, when they’re shown the error of their ways, they couldn't give a damn.

One of the things I really enjoyed was Marlowe’s insistence that several of the folks he comes across ooze noir stereotypes (the sexy femme fatale, the tough talking club owner complete with big bodyguard). It’s one thing to write these characters but it’s another thing to call attention to it; almost like breaking the fourth wall so to speak.

As many have pointed out, it’s not really because of the plot that you’re picking up a Chandler novel and I’m beginning to see why. Chandler writes Marlowe with such bravado, it’s like Marlowe thinks everyone is either constantly bluffing or just plain full of shit. He’s seemingly always a step ahead and he’s got more lines than a coke dealer.

The High Window has a satisfying conclusion and once again reinforces why Chandler is considered a master of the crime fiction genre. Onward to book four!

Also posted @ Every Read Thing
Profile Image for Ed.
Author 43 books2,693 followers
May 29, 2020
PI Marlowe keeps finding dead bodies. Private eyes aren't supposed to deal with murder. I like this Marlowe: playful and funny while cynical and hardnosed when needed. Echoes of Sam Spade are heard. The usual metaphors, snappy patter, and philosophical asides are intact. A fun, fast read.

2nd reading 5/29/20.
Profile Image for J.G. Keely.
546 reviews9,782 followers
January 15, 2010
I once read in a mystery readers' newsletter that one invariably favors either Chandler or Hammett, and that the minute difference in character between the two preferences is an unbridgeable gap. I started with Hammett, and expected much more than I got. It was brusque and brooding, but its brusqueness lacked refinement: it was not laconic but merely truncated.

The brooding lacked the sardonic wryness which I had come to associate with crime fiction, and which I now find to be the flourished signature of Chandler, with his abstracted yet fitting metaphors. Chandler also misses the mark when it comes to laconic elegance, leaning more to the luridly painted scene.

Both have that slow-burn plot that is only saved by the aid of an insider (and coincidentally, the delivery of a small box containing the macguffin). Hence, I wouldn't call the plotting tight, exactly, as it hinges on a kind of authorial intervention to keep it moving; but it does move.

In the end, Chandler could have used a bit of Hammett's brusqueness, while Hammet could use a lot of Chandler's elegance, if you could call it elegance. The sort of elegance shown by a nondescript thug pulling and firing, killing without wasting a second bullet, and then disappearing into the wave of screaming, trampling patrons, leaving behind only a body amongst the broken glasses, spilled liquor, and ticket stubs. If there could be any elegance in a thing like that.

But that newsletter was right. I find myself drawn to Chandler and scorning Hammett. As with most such contests, it all comes down to the commas, in the end. In Chandler, they're a shrug, a wistful moment: a recognition that whatever you're about to say isn't what you wanted to say. In Hammett they're a stutter before a restatement.

Both show a recognition of something left unsaid, something sought for but in the end, something not found. That's the legacy of most crime novels: that even when you find what you were looking for, it doesn't change anything, and that need to look is still there.

And when a man searches for that thing and fails to find it, I find him more charming if he shrugs instead of stutters.
Profile Image for Nigeyb.
1,212 reviews266 followers
July 7, 2022
The High Window (1942) (Philip Marlowe #3)

I am reading all Raymond Chandler’s Marlowe novels in order. I was convinced I'd read them all, some multiple times, so I was delighted to discover that I had never read The High Window.

The highly original, slow-burn plot comes to the boil beautifully, and Elizabeth Bright Murdoch is a truly memorable Chandler character.

As usual, the dialogue is sharp, the descriptions vivid and evocative, and the resolution is clever and concise. The world weary Marlowe once again lifts a lid on secrets, lies, manipulation, blackmail and how the rich invariably manage to corrupt what they touch.

Another timeless Chandler masterclass.


Philip Marlowe's on a case: his client, a dried-up husk of a woman, wants him to recover a rare gold coin called a Brasher Doubloon, missing from her late husband's collection.

That's the simple part. It becomes more complicated when Marlowe finds that everyone who handles the coin suffers a run of very bad luck: they always end up dead. That's also unlucky for a private investigator, because leaving a trail of corpses around LA gets cops' noses out of joint.

If Marlowe doesn't wrap this one up fast, he's going to end up in jail - or worse, in a box in the ground....
Profile Image for Tim Orfanos.
343 reviews32 followers
July 11, 2019
Ίσως, είναι το μυθισ��όρημα του Τσάντλερ με την πιο ενδιαφέρουσα, μυστηριώδη και ιντριγκαδόρικη πλοκή, η οποία ξεφεύγει από τα στεγανά του 'hardboiled' λογοτεχνικού είδους. Εντυπωσιάζουν: το μέτρο, η ευστοχία και η οικονομία των διαλόγων, η ψυχαναλυτική διάθεση του συγγραφέα (αναφέρεται σε κάποιο σημείο στον Καρλ Γκούσταβ Γιούνγκ), και η ιπποτική στάση (για πρώτη φορά σε τέτοιο βαθμό) του Μάρλοου. Μπορεί όταν το ολοκλήρωσε ο Τσάντλερ να πίστευε ότι ήταν το πιο 'αδύναμο' βιβλίο του λόγω των παραπάνω λόγων, αλλά, πλέον, θα μπορούσε να θεωρηθεί ένα από τα πιο πρωτότυπα και καλύτερα συγγραφικά του δημιουργήματα.

Βαθμολογία: 4,5/5 ή 9/10.

Θα γράψω και εκτενέστερη κριτική (σίγουρα).
Profile Image for William.
675 reviews325 followers
October 26, 2017
2.5 stars only
The first half was slow and very uneven, but the second half picked up the pace with a nice rhythm .... until the pages of info-dump of "what really happened' by Marlowe. This could have been peppered throughout the book for far more enjoyable reading. My least favourite Marlowe so far, even worse than Farewell, My Lovely

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

Brasher Dubloons

Marlowe chases Mrs Murdock's Brasher Dubloon and gets entangled in a highly improbable timing of events. In the first half-book, I felt manipulated, which I hate. Too many coincidences of timing and place, with prose lacking much life or tension. Just a laundry list recipe, leavened by some shallow characterisations.

The second half comes a bit more alive with witty reparté between Marlowe and the cops, then between Marlowe and Morny. Unfortunately this does not last. There are more unlikely coincidences, plot-driven characters, and an over-clever ending driven by a laughably unlikely photograph, never explained.

Throughout, there's precious little snappy dialogue or philosopher-detective quotataions.

There were two moments of very surprising charity by the hard-boiled Marlowe, which did make him far more human, less of Don Quixoté and more of Sir Galahad.

I sighed, retrieved the envelope, wrote its name and address on a fresh one, folded a dollar bill into a sheet of paper and wrote on it: "This is positively the last contribution." I signed my name, sealed the envelope, stuck a stamp on it and poured another drink.

Pinkerton's Detectives

I found the rhythm of this book to be forced until about halfway, as if Chandler were imitating himself, trying too hard, and then the rhythm of the story becomes more natural and alive and interesting.

Some quotes

She let me get to the door before she growled at my back: "You don't like me very well, do you?"
I turned to grin back at her with my hand on the knob. "Does anybody?"

This is by far the best quote of the entire book -
After a moment I pushed my chair back and went over to the french windows. I opened the screen and stepped out on to the porch. The night was all around, soft and quiet. The white moonlight was cold and clear, like the justice we dream of but don't find.

Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,923 reviews731 followers
February 9, 2014
At book three in this series it's getting harder to come up with new things to say about Chandler's Marlowe novels. Yes, I could offer up some of Chandler's clever similes or metaphors which change with each book, but I'm not going to do that. These novels are, in a word, excellent. Whether you read them for the writing, the often-cumbersome plots or the unforgettable characters, especially that of Philip Marlowe, considering that they were written around 70 years ago, the high quality of these books has remained steady so far. If you want to know about plot,I'm not bringing it out here; you can see what the book's about elsewhere.

Aside from Chandler's witty metaphors, very cool prose and his take on the sprawl that is Los Angeles (which I am absolutely fascinated by, probably more than anything else in these books) what I am beginning to appreciate more about these novels is in the way Chandler explores people. Getting to the whodunit and most especially the why is really a vehicle for exploring individual psyches, especially Marlowe's. He becomes much more of a damsel-in-distress rescuer in this book, and continues his moral duty of keeping his client shielded from any possible fallout, even though it might mean that he soils his integrity in the bargain. He continues to hold onto his principled self -- his twenty-five dollars a day plus expenses is all he wants -- he can't be bought off, despite the expectations of clients and crooks alike. He works hard to get not only to the truth, but also to the heart of just what it is about people that makes them tick. But it's not just Marlowe -- pretty much anyone who takes any role in Marlowe's investigations gets even the tiniest bit of psychological air time from his or her creator. It's these individual stories when combined that showcase the people who exist in Marlowe's city; his interactions with these people who help to define who Marlowe is. And isn't.

The High Window didn't feel as clunky or convoluted plotwise as its predecessors -- I am having so much fun with these novels and this one did not disappoint.
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