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The Simple Art of Murder

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  5,577 ratings  ·  228 reviews
Contains Chandler's essay on the art of detective stories and a collection of 8 classic Chandler mysteries. ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 12th 1988 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 1944)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  5,577 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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Aug 14, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a collection of early short stories and an essay which gave the book its name. The latter is fairly short and its main idea is an argument for the virtues of a noir mystery as opposed to a traditional British one. Considering the fact that this comes from a guy who became a classic of the former even before his death and that he picked up some below the average examples of the latter, I agree.

The stories themselves left me out cold for the most part. I can actually describe the plot in p
Jan 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: who-done-it
This is a collection of early Raymond Chandler tales, including the amusing, non-fiction title piece, where Chandler states that the British murder mysteries are unrealistic, dull and are basically ass. The fiction stuff, which don’t include his signature character, Phillip Marlowe, is okay. The highlights include a tale about a sleazy band leader and something about yellow jammies and the one titled “Spanish Blood”, which is the best of the bunch.
David Putnam
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here's one that's not read as often as his others. I liked it a great deal and recommend it to other authors. ...more
Jan 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-as-night
“I merely say that all reading for pleasure is escape, whether it be Greek, mathematics, astronomy, Benedetto Croce, or The Diary of the Forgotten Man. To say otherwise is to be an intellectual snob, and a juvenile at the art of living.”

Four short stories of varying quality and an interesting, if grouchy, essay on the state of crime fiction in the 1930s.

The titular essay is a very interesting read, Chandler discusses the popular British (and British styled) crime writers of the day and their fai
Jan 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Based on all the middling reviews, I only tried a few of these. Yet, I found the titular essay quite interesting. Well, the last bit of it. It starts as a rant, extolling the virtues of "realistic" American detective fiction (and Dashiell Hammett in particular) vs traditional English murder mysteries that Chandler blasts as being stiff, formulaic and divorced from reality. The really interesting bit is at the very end where he lays out the essence of the protagonist of (successful) American dete ...more
Jack Heath
5 Stars. I've met an author or two, read interviews, but never have I found such interesting comments as Chandler's 18-page analysis of detective fiction. How does it stand in the pantheon of English literature? Which practitioners are better at it, and which are not? It's seven decades old. One wonders what he would say about today's crop! It opens with an attack on the "critical fraternity," those who exclude mystery writing from great literature. He states, "Good specimens of the art are much ...more
May 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: do-not-finish

As I had mentioned before, I DNF-ed more Raymond Chandler's novels than managing to finish them. Unluckily this is one of the DNF experiences.

The writing and how Mr. Chandler described his characters and the harsh world of shady business deals, gangsters, corrupted cops and junkies are still brilliant, but the stories...............are just so boring. Perhaps I wasn't in the mood but I just couldn't focus on what is going on in the stories, so...2 stars only.

A much better short stories
Jim Nesbitt
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The title is the same as Chandler's classic essay that redefined the detective novel, taking it out of the mannered parlors of English cozy mysteries and out of the hands of amateurs and slapping it in the middle of mean American streets where violence is a bloody but everyday affair and the detective is a loner with a code, but not necessarily a nice guy. Chandler, along with Hammett and Cain, invented the hard-boiled detective genre, which I consider an American art form. ...more
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Raymond Chandler; Hard-Boiled; Pulp; Noir & just great Crime Fiction.
Shelves: noir, hard-boiled
The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler

I'm not usually a fan of short story collections, preferring instead, something i can immerse myself in. Still i wanted to read this collection of 7 short stories by Raymond Chandler, partly because i adore Chandler's prose, but also because i wanted to see how he had arrived at the Marlowe character. Marlowe doesn't feature in any of these stories, though he seems to lurk around every corner.

The sense i got from these stories, is that Chandler was tr
Patrick Sherriff
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love it or hate it, Chandler's writing has shaped the modern mystery genre more than any other writer. If you have any intention of writing mystery you have to read Chandler and the 1944 essay, The Simple Art of Murder, which opens this collection of his eight longish short stories, is a must-read for anyone who writes crime. You could quibble about Chandler's hardboiled style getting in the way of his precious "realistic" approach to writing detective stories (how absurd now it seems for his ch ...more
Carla Remy
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
A collection of non Marlowe stories from pulps in the 1930s, starring an assortment of police officers, hotel dicks and I forget who. They are just okay. His 1950 Atlantic essay is pretty good. He basically puts down all genre and literature too. He makes fun of everyone who imitates him, but admits he imitates Hammett, and does have nice things to say about him.
Dimitris Passas (TapTheLine)
"The Simple Art of Murder" is an essay written by the American crime author, Raymond Chandler, in 1950 and it is a rather important piece of crime fiction scholarship, a cornerstone article that even today is held as classic. It is a short, though dense, and full of insights as well as information text that focuses on a heavy criticism on the English mystery/detective fiction and the -many- British cozy mysteries. Chandler thought that this school of crime writing was saturated and a new kind of ...more
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: smooth operators
An excerpt from the short story "I'll Be Waiting".....

At one o'clock in the morning, Carl, the night porter, turned down the last of three table lamps in the main lobby of the Windermere Hotel. The blue carpet darkened a shade or two and the walls drew back into remoteness. The chairs filled with shadowy loungers. In the corners were memories like cobwebs.

Tony Reseck yawned. He put his head on one side and listened to the frail, twittery music from the radio room beyond a dim arch at the far
Oct 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
"Raymond" and "Chandler". When taken separately these words have a myriad of uses and meanings, but when taken together in the strict ordering "Raymond Chandler" they only mean one thing: excellence in storytelling.

If you like any of his work whether in film or written form, then pick this up and get your little heart going pit-a-pat. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps a little, but the man was a master of detective fiction, a craftsman who created characters and plots that are so good, so iconic, and s
Apr 05, 2013 rated it did not like it
A very sub par collection of short stories. It's listed on FictFact as part of the Philip Marlowe series, and that's the only reason why I read it now. Maybe I shouldn't have...

All of these characters are proto-Marlowes. They have all of Marlowe's problems, and none of his qualities. The stories are very dated, uninteresting and badly developed.

I couldn't even finish the essay. It seemed a very unnecessary and purposefully dense study of a subject that has already been developed further than des
Daniel Polansky
Actually it might have been this book I read or it might have been another, but they all stand in together so fine. Anyway I went out to LA for a couple of weeks for different reasons and I obviously decided I needed to read a Chandler, and I picked this one up at the Last Bookstore in downtown LA (which is fine but quite frankly, yo, LA friends, if this is your answer to the Strand you don’t have an answer to the Strand.), and it’s fine. I had forgotten that Chandler reworked all of his short s ...more
Jan 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Crime novelists and readers
Eighty years later, Raymond Chandler is still one of the Masters of Crime Novels and the "hard-boiled detective" genre. This book is a series of short stories, written in the 1930's and 40's, prefaced by an essay he wrote on writing crime fiction and gives the book its title.
I've always been a fan of Chandler's "Phillip Marlowe" and of Dashiell Hammet's "Thin Man." I grew up reading these novels that were in my great grandfather's bookcase. He was an educator and high school principal/superinten
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
The essay on writers/writing was of interest. The collection of stories varied in interest for me. I don't mean to speak disrespectfully of writing by author who is held in such high esteem, but I struggle to get through the slang of the 30's. When it was written it had to have made sense to the reading public. For me, I stumble over each foreign expression, and that, I am certain, was not the intention of the author. ...more
A very mixed bag of early Chandler, with one pretty good story, and another okay. The introduction The Simple Art of Murder is now badly dated, and a bit of a whine about other authors.

Hemingway says somewhere that the good writer competes only with the dead. The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well.

1. Spanish Blood
This has all the elements of good noir, except characters you care abo
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Chandler devotees (like myself) have probably felt sad when remembering that he only completed seven novels. Of course, you can re-read them (which I may do more of in the future) but you can also check out this collection of early stories - which has plenty for fans to savor.

His strengths are here: vivid physical descriptions, minutely detailed settings, cinematic knockdowns and, of course, the singular language that the writer seems to have invented. To a degree, these stories may be more spr
Graham P
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
8 stories cut from the same square-jawed mold of Los Angeles crime fiction. This is early Chandler taking advantage of a template where hard guys casually stand between the law and the criminals; where our private dick teases a femme-fatale and even gets a bruised-lip kiss in; gets roughed up by meathead marauders and slick-palmed degenerates; engages in gunfire usually with the head thug standing by a regal desk or a lush davenport; gets tossed in the backseat of cars for a heavy-knuckled joy r ...more
Free download available at Faded Page. ...more
Jun 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
I just fell in love with Raymond Chandler.

'The Simple Art of Murder' is a funny, penetrating, and altogether satisfying essay on the nature of literature, the nature of that unique form of literature known as the mystery novel, and on writing itself. In it, Chandler makes a case with which I'm entirely sympathetic: it isn't the genre that matters - be it literary fiction, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, detective novels, travelogues, political treatises, histories, or even scientific works.
William Prystauk
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
For mystery writers, Chandler's opening essay is wonderful. One may not agree about all of his points regarding "modern" mystery writing, but it's great to know his approach to the genre and why Philip Marlowe is his particular vehicle to bring us his stories.

As for the rest, we get a chance to see how Chandler progressed as a short story mystery writer. Many of his early tales are bogged down with street lingo of the time, which borders on parody, if not straight comedy. There's also annoying w
Lisa Ciarfella
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: school-2015-2016
Mr. Chandler is simply put, the master!
just doesn't get any better than this!

Anyone who wants to write in this hardboiled, noir style vein simply must read this. And not just once!

He writes scenes like no one else can. Present, fast paced, exciting, action packed, on the move!
His characters are tough, and bleed out onto the page in your face as you read. Makes you feel like you're actually there in the midst of all the action with them, and that, is about as good as it gets!

Will return to this o
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some authors struggle with the transition from novel to short story or from a series character to standalone, but not Chandler - the strengths of his Marlowe novels are reflected here even as his main shamus takes a breather. But the true highlight here is the opening essay, an excellent manifesto for hard-boiled fans everywhere.
Douglas Cootey
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: inspiring-2017
Although I am not a fan of crime novels, and although not every story in this anthology caught my fancy, I overall became a fan of how Chandler writes. Earlier notes that I posted as I worked my way through this book reveal how enamored I became with his deft skill at establishing setting, and his masterful way at defining characters with just a few scant lines. Chandler was a talented writer. I am very intrigued that his first crime short story was published when he was 45, and that his first n ...more
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Suspension of disbelief. This is the crux of Chandler's Essay in "The Simple Art of Murder", where he praises the real and criticises the surreal. However, I couldn't help but feel a whiff of arrogance while reading this essay; his personal biases explode in straight condemnation and criticism when it comes to authors who are not realistic enough in their writing.

Having just read "Trouble is My Business", you can see a similar critique and hatred in his writing. He despises fat men, tall women
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Early collection of short murder stories written in Chandler’s classic style. Each of these “crime noir” tales includes at least one bleak hotel setting and the consumption of lots of alcohol. Chandler paints quite a picture of 1930’s California from these stories. They are an acquired taste and I am glad I acquired the book! 3+ stars!
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it
The essay that starts this collection of short stories is interesting. I loved it. The stories are easy to read and easy to forget but fun. The scenes are fun to read and characters quite cookie-cutter but most murder mystery characters are. The essay is really what is worth reading but the short stories are fun to read.
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Hammett, Chandler, and the Hardboiled Detective 1 5 Oct 23, 2017 06:23AM  

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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

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“In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.

The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor -- by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.

He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man's money dishonestly and no man's insolence without due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks -- that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.

The story is the man's adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in.”
“Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare and tropical fish.” 31 likes
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