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*The Lady in the Lake* — novel new territory

With this rereading logofourth novel, The Lady in the Lake, one can say that Raymond Chandler has done better and has done worse.

The most notable thing about the Lady is the way that Chandler goes away from Los Angeles, thereby showing a knack for nature descriptions. The change of scene allows for some colorful characters, too – characters befitting the rural scene.

chandler later worksIt is not a matter of Chandler losing ground. He is who he is, and that is a very good thing. I can remember searching for another, and another, Chandler title after I had read just one. Anything by Chandler has an advance placement in my top 100 list of favorites in the detective category.

The writing is as good as ever, and the characters are the usual suspects that we have come to expect. The weakest link is the plot, which is standard and predictable. That said, my notes show a lively interest in the language. I copied out more than twenty examples that I just could not pass up.

Here are a few of them –

 She looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don’t care much about kittens.

• • •

Six feet of a standard type of homewrecker. Arms to hold you close and all his brains in his face.

• • •

His house was built downwards, one of those clinging vine effects, with the front door a little below street level, the patio on the roof, the bedrooms in the basement, and a garage like the corner pocket on a pool table.

• • •

… and then suddenly below me was a small oval lake deep in trees and rocks and wild grass, like a drop of dew caught in a curled leaf.

• • •

I said goodnight again and went out, leaving him there moving his mind around with the ponderous energy of a homesteader digging up a stump.

• • •

Part of the lapse in plot work is the fact that Marlow himself set the bar high. It is no shame that he does not clear his own bar on this one occasion. The language alone is worth the trip for anyone who loves Chandler’s work.

And I sure do.

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