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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 16 October 2011
The third Marlowe and possibly the least known. A mixture of blackmail and murder in sweaty Pasadena.

It opens with echoes of The Big Sleep. This time it is an aging matriarch, Mrs Murdock, who recruits Marlowe, rather than the patriarch General Sternwood. Chandler plays on the 'inner hostility' between Murdoock and Marlowe including the brilliant line, 'We looked at each other with the clear innocent eyes of a couple of used-car salesmen'.

These one-liners are more sparingly used than in the first two novels.The homophobia and anti-semitism are removed and greater restraint applies to the use of drugs, sex and violence. The higher moral tone also extends to a more sympathetic hearing for the police with an attempt at proper characterisation via the cops Breeze and Spangler. It is tempting to wonder about the impact of WW2 on Chandler's style.

Even Marlowe himself is given a bit of a wash and brush-up; 'I'm not tough. Just virile'. He displays a soft side towards the underprivileged earning the soubriquet, 'a shop-soiled Galahad'.

As in The Big Sleep, this novel sometimes feels like two short stories welded together. ' I haven't bought anything and I haven't paid for anything. Now go away' the sozzled Murdock tells Marlowe, yet still he persists with a seemingly closed investigation.

Chandler portrays Morny, the night-club owner and ex-actor as 'Every action, every gesture .. right out of the catalogue' and my only tiny reservation over this novel is to what extent Chandler felt some of the writing was becoming 'out of the catalogue'.

This novel flew past and is much less convoluted than his earlier work. If you are already a Chandler fan or becoming one, please note that The Lady in the Lake and Other Novels (Penguin Modern Classics) is much better value than buying these novels individually.
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on 5 January 2015
This is the third of Chandler's novels featuring hardboiled detective Philip Marlowe, and the first that I hadn't previously read as a kid. As a result I was coming to this book with an almost entirely fresh perspective. Nor was I disappointed.

The High Window comes across as a much less convoluted story than the first two books, and we get a glimpse at Marlowe's sympathetic side when he takes an interest in the novel's damsel in distress. That said, we still get to see plenty of sass from the wise-cracking shamus as he goes on the trail of a missing coin, almost literally tripping over dead bodies along the way.

Compared to the previous two books Chandler seems to have found his feet with this one, and I personally found his writing style more refined and more confident. The story seemed to flow more readily, and encounters that initially appear to be random and unconnected to the main case soon turn out to be deliberate and very much connected. By the end of the book the gal's been saved, the coin's been found, and even if not all of the killers are brought to justice, the whole mess has been wrapped up in a very neat bow by our hero.

Out of the three Marlowe books I've read so far I would certainly count this as my favourite, and based on this would probably recommend it as the first one to read for anyone unfamiliar with Chandler's work.
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A few months ago I was looking for a new reading experience. I sat down with the lap top and asked the internet to recommend me a good book. Somewhere in the search Raymond Chandler cropped up. I hadn't read him before although I have heard of him probably through the films. I decided to start with his first novel ' The big sleep'. I thoroughly enjoyed it and had found a new enjoyable reading experience. I haven't quite finished all the books but none of them have disappointed so far and that includes this one.

Raymond Chandler had a particular style of writing, very much in the mid 20th century idiom of detective street talk. Somehow though it becomes enchantingly addictive the more I have read it. There are always plenty of twists turns as the stories unfold.

Suffice to say I recommend these books to other readers looking for a good read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 5 December 2008
You don't like me very well?.... Does anybody?

Every writer is faced with the question. What is it about?

I wonder how Raymond Chandler answered this question. His plots are so convoluted that it would be difficult for him to have told anyone.

I have been promising myself for years to read all the novels of Raymond Chandler because he is a master of lean sharp prose. Philip Marlowe is a wisecracking private eye. The plot is that he gets called in by Mrs Murdock to find a rare old coin that she claims was stolen by her daughter in law who she does not like and that he is to keep is quiet as she does not want the police involved.

Marlowe takes on the job not that she likes Mrs Murdock who seems to have no redeeming features. He goes in search of it and tracks it down whilst having unexplained murders happening around him.

I am sure Chandler had no idea how the story was going by just had people killed and and gave himself the task of giving an explanation at the end. The stories are in the first person so we can only see and know what Marlowe knows as he goes along.

I was determined to get to the end of the book but the journey is the best part as the dialogue and prose sparkles with great lines and descriptions.Even though the story is set in 1940s California is does not sound like a period piece or out of date.

I read it slowly to soak up and absorb the words and language used. Marlowe has a soft side and helps out the underdog in this case being Mrs Murdock's secretary who she treats badly but we do not know why.

Treat yourself start reading Raymond Chandler these are top of the range books and you are in for a treat. I am moving on to all the other novels. I have seen all the films but the novels are where it all started
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on 25 February 2015
Always a great read, the story is told in such a characterful way and for the most of it stands the test of time.there are some quirky expressions that pull you up and make you think " what the hell does that mean!" But I enjoy that.
Marlowe in this one strikes me as a bit soft and not as hard boiled as other novels, but still a great read, funny lines and you can see why they scooped up as films.
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on 27 January 2015
Great story which keeps in line with the book. However, I didn't enjoy the dramatization so much primarily because Toby Stephens doesn't match by a long chalk Ed Bishop as Philip Marlow. Both productions were made by the BBC with Ed Bishop being made in the 1970s but the more recent play with Toby Stephens, fir nem just doesn't have the feel of the period, namely 1939 - early 1950s.
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on 10 August 2013
A mystery tour full of the usual intriguing set of characters, surprising twists and a critical eye on LA's superficial lifestyle. Not as famous as some of his other tales but Chandler still holds you by his brilliant descriptions and one-liners. It doesn't matter where the plot takes you, just enjoy the ride.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2011
Philip Marlowe is on the trail of the Brasher Doubloon, a rare coin taken from a collection. Marlowe is hired by the widow of the owner of the coin collection. She's described as a 'dried-up husk of a woman', and that's a fair description. She's mean spirited and unpleasant, and treats her highly strung secretary, horribly. We wonder why the poor girl stays with her. But that's part of the plot, and it becomes clear in the end.

I didn't engage with this book as much as the others, probably because there really aren't any engaging characters in it - only Marlowe,going about his work. Chandler's wonderful writing is as rich as ever, with some terrific descriptions of people and places. But after a while I got ground down by the pervading cynicism. Maybe that's the desired effect of the book. I won't give the plot away, but there is one innocent character (though not totally) that Marlowe goes out of his way to help and take care of. Chandler shows that under Marlowe's hard shell, lurks a big heart. I got lost in this plot, which I don't mind when it comes to crime fiction, but I never really found my way back with it either. Still, it was worth reading just for Chandler's style - that never disappoints.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 7 February 2009
I collect thrillers. They make life bearable in the face of lousy weather and incompetent and dishonourable 'bankers'. Raymond Chandler's suoper prose lift me above all this. He's the one who made it all happen, and this is another fine read. Read it before you die.
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on 20 January 2014
Classic Philip Marlowe story: the action is a bit slow some time, but the characters are well described, and this book is a classic ...
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