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crime / mystery / detective literature:
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Crime/Mystery Series: Philip Marlowe

"Tall, aren't you?" she said.

"I didn't mean to be."

Her eyes rounded. She was puzzled. She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her.

--The Big Sleep,
Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe

About the Author

There is some good Cahndler material on line:

About the Character

There is at least one dedicated web site, plus a useful page elsewhere:

(In case you came to this page you are reading from a search engine instead of through its site, I will here repeat the brief remarks on the main mystery/crime page that points here.)

If Marlowe seems stereotypical, it is because he was what an attorney might call the "case of first impression": he is the original of his type, the mold from which so many copies have been cast, the tough, worldly, cynical, boozy, living-on-the-edge lone-wolf shamus with a stubborn streak of chivalric idealism under it all, the lonely honest man in a vile, crooked world, the knight in rusty, dented armor.

In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is a high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. 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. (Raymond Chandler, "The Simple Art Of Murder")

The Books

There are seven Chandler Marlowe novels, plus one, Poodle Springs, left incomplete at Chandler's death and completed by Robert Parker, and another (Perchance to Dream, a sequel to The Big Sleep) wholly by Parker; critical opinion is sharply divided on those last two. There are also numerous "Marlowe" short stories, though all but one of those are ersatz, in that they are early work by Chandler not in fact originally about Marlowe (who had yet to be conceived) but later slightly rewritten (mostly by sheer character name change) to be "Marlowe stories" when Marlowe became a big seller. (Chandler's career was, as someone has pointed out, a clear demonstration of the dramatic impact that paperbacks had on publishing; before them, a crime writer whose works sold a few thousand was doing very well, in a relative sense.)

(There was also a 1998 Chandler centennial "tribute" collection volume, Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration, containing 23 "Marlowe" stories by as many eminent modern crime/mystery writers.)

In these lists, the links are all to used-book searches for the title (via Abebooks). Some few can still be found in print new, but not many. As usual, the search results are sorted from lowest price up (note that, as always in used-book searches from this site, the price sort is by actual book price, not total shipped price, though each listing also always shows the true total shipped cost; occasionally, a slightly more expensive title will be slightly cheaper shipped--but the differences are never much and you can easily eyeball those cases.) Most titles represent a number of varying editions, from original hardcovers to late paperback reprints.

The Individual Novels

These are best had as the two omnibus volumes listed farther below.

The Short Stories

It's very hard to determine what are "Marlowe" short stories owing to Chandler's habit--driven by commercial considerations--of re-issuing stories with little or nothing but the name of the protagonist changed. He shifted some earlier works to "Marlowe", but before that had done other shifts, sometimes to those same works.

I simply cannot extract from the information available to me which of the Chandler story collections are "Marlowe" stories and which not; fortunately, the problem is easily circumvented, in that there is a single volume that collects all of Chandler's short fiction, and that is the obvious way to go. That book is the 2002 Everyman's Library edition Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories.

Omnibus Editions

The Library of America project has put out Chandler's Marlowe novels, plus some other Chandler material, in two volumes that are the best way to collect Chandler's longer works.

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