David Collard

A Coat, a Hat, and a Gun

A Mysterious Something in the Light: Raymond Chandler – A Life

By

Aurum Press 386pp £20 order from our bookshop

At its best, which is most of the time, Raymond Chandler’s wholly original and fully achieved brand of hard-boiled, wise-cracking puritan sentimentality expands our horizons and enriches our world. He assembled his stories in short bursts, typing approximately 150 triple-spaced words on cut-up sheets of yellow letter paper, and so contrived, in the course of seven novels, to write some great paragraphs. Here’s one, from The Big Sleep:

It was about ten-thirty when the little yellow-sashed Mexican orchestra got tired of playing a low-voiced prettied-up rhumba that nobody was dancing to. The gourd player rubbed his finger tips together as if they were sore and got a cigarette into his mouth almost with the same movement. The other four, with a timed simultaneous stoop, reached under their chairs for glasses from which they sipped, smacking their lips and flashing their eyes. Tequila, their manner said. It was probably mineral water. The pretence was as wasted as the music. Nobody was looking at them. 

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Something of an 'eccentric billionaire’s hobby': reviews 'The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and… ,
    • "At the age of fifteen, drunk on stolen Chardonnay or stoned on pot at a swimming party, the thoughts that come imm… ,
    • For the latest Bookends, here's Alan Taylor musing on his stint as an assistant librarian. ,
    • A ‘pretentious ass and impotent arriviste’ who surrounded himself with ‘degenerates, hooligans, childish layabouts,… ,
    • . reviews 'Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life' by ,
    • "As Beevor shows, it was one of the most daring, dangerous and fiercely fought operations of the whole war. It was… ,
    • "The characters are very rich and very male, with astronomical ambitions. The potted biographies in this book sugge… ,