Trouble Is My Business

In blunt-impact contrast to Mickey Spillane's purple narrative, Raymond Chandler's collection Murder Is My Business dazzles like a flashlight in the eyes of a guilty spouse trying to tiptoe into a dark bedroom at midnight. In Chapter 3 of the title novelette, for example, a lady is described:

She wore a street dress of pale green wool and a small cockeyed hat that hung on her ear like a butterfly. Her eyes were wide-set and there was thinking room between them. Their color was lapis-lazuli blue and the color of her hair was dusky red, like a fire under control but still dangerous. She was too tall to be cute. She wore plenty of make-up in the right places and the cigarette she was poking at me had a built-on mouthpiece about three inches long. She didn't look hard, but she looked as if she had heard all the answers and remembered the ones she thought she might be able to use sometime.

Or there's a simple landscape at the beginning of Chapter 7 in "Finger Man" that gets the narrator from Point A to B:

In twenty minutes we were in the foothills. We went over a hogback, drifted down a long white concrete ribbon, crossed a bridge, went halfway up the next slope and turned off on a gravel road that disappeared around a shoulder of scrub oak and manzanita. Plumes of pampas grass flared on the side of the hill, like jets of water. The wheels crunched on the gravel and skidded on the curves.

And witness the opening lines of "Red Wind" where the atmosphere is the murder suspect:

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

I plead guilty of pedestrian prose, Your Honor. I'll try to do better next time ...

(cf. The Simple Art of Murder (2005-12-04) and 1 comments thereon, The Thin Man (2006-01-21), Battling Bosoms (2008-07-09), ...) - ^z - 2008-07-20


(correlates: LapisMouse, Metabo versus The Media, Periodic Tables, ...)

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