Thursday, July 31, 2008

I'm usually not that into crime fiction but...

"I'm a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and I don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don’t like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I’m a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life."

This is Philip Marlowe. The Big Sleepwas the first in the Philip Marlowe series by Raymond Chandler who began writing his published novels during the depression.

Ian Rankin wrote the introduction and says that it is one of the best crime novels he has ever read and that it "opens with my favourite paragraph in all crime fiction and doesn't let up until a wonderfully written coda."

He also observes that Chandler is the "king of the one-liner." My favourite line so far is "Her eyes narrowed until they were a faint greenish glitter, like a forest pool far back in the shadow of trees." But I also love the one Rankin picked out: "He wore a blue uniform coat that fitted him the way a stall fits a horse."

I often pick books based on their cover (I know, probably not the best way but it seems to work for me) and I love this one! The cover artwork is by Steve Marking and seems to be styled after the design legend Saul Bass. Saul Bass did lots of film title design (think Hitchcock's 'Vertigo' and Scorsese's 'Casino', among many others). There is a great article on Bass over at the design museum. Don't you just love his work? I do.

2 comments:

Simple Answer said...

I'll bite and try one of your recommendations - I read a lot of crime fiction as long as there is no gore. I'm okay with a dead body, I just don't want it described!

Dewi said...

raymond chandler is so totally awesome - 'the big sleep' is a classic!

you should check out the cover art for junot diaz's 'the brief and wonderous life of oscar wao'. first and 2nd editions are pretty cool too.