Chandler is often credited as an influence, along with Jim Thompson, of noir. Basically, Noir (mind if I smoke?) is the French-applied term for philosophical alcoholics that use words like "flat-foot" and "ugly-mugg" and get involved in some seedy crime.
On the other hand, Chandler was creating stories about a curmudgeonly hero, Philip Marlowe, the counter-opposite of Thompson's sociopaths. It's great that this collection features the less noir but speedier plots that get overlooked, especially Lady in the Lake. Lady shows you Los Angeles and the surrounding resort cities of the 1940s with really poetic writing. And yes, it has a snake-like murder mystery to solve concluded by a mountian lake. The High Window is filled with great humor and Chandler pushing plot twists with a stolen gold coin as the McGuffin (i.e., A. Hitchcock's term for the Grail, Maltese Falcon, object of desire). I'd start with this collection and then go to the other Penguin collection with The Big Sleep. And if you really want to know Chandler and how good and self-pitying a writer can get (do the two go hand-in-hand?) read The Long Goodbye - a more honest end to Marlowe's career than Playback. Even with their melodrama, they are some of my favorite books of all time.