Die Tote im See (Philip Marlowe, #4)

ISBN: 325720311X
ISBN 13: 9783257203110
By: Raymond Chandler

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About this book

The client was Derace Kingsley. He had a voice you could have cracked a brazil nut on and a wife he'd not seen for a month.He'd got a telegram that talked about a Mexico divorce and he wanted Marlowe to take it from there.Marlowe found the guy she'd gone off with and he denied all knowledge. So it's off to the country cabins near San Bernadino where there's a dead lady underwater...

Reader's Thoughts

Michael A

More of the same thing as the last three books - this is really starting to disappoint. When a writer starts to use the same tricks over and over as he does, I find that the law of diminishing returns applies with a lot more force the second or third time around. All of the stuff that I have found admirable the first and second time in prior books is, with all of this repetition, becoming boring and tired out. The writing isn't nearly as funny, the noir elements here are passable but not outstanding, and I think even Marlowe is starting to be a bit boring. One other complaint I will lodge -- for all his dislike of the English approach to the genre, it annoys me when he feels the need to explain everything that has happened in the prior two-thirds of the book with a spoken exposition at the end. I thought the point of this kind of noir was to get away from the puzzle approach and spoken explanations at the end and, instead, create a new kind of world for the mystery genre in which all sorts of capricious plot devices occur. That way, it mirrors real life more and you can weave a world in which all sorts of causality can influence what is happening. Every time he explains away everything at the end, I feel like he is pulling the legs out from under the worlds of random fate that he creates at the start of the book.So, this rates barely a three in my mind. If he doesn't do something new in the next couple of books, the ratings will probably drop even lower. I'm trying to persevere because of his huge importance to the genre, but this insistence on repeating a formula again and again is one of the main reasons why I've never been really able to read a lot of this genre -- that is, unless the author is clever and can keep changing things up. Of the authors that I know, Christie is the only giant of the genre that is consistently able to do just that. I might get angry with her when one of the books is lazy, or an experiment that really doesn't work, but her range of approaches and experiments also means a consistently fresh approach to the puzzle whodunit. Chandler, in contrast, is nothing but a one-trick pony -- even with all of that stylish dialog.I'm moving on now to The Little Sister -- I've heard this is one of his better books, so I hope to write more positive thoughts for the next review.


What appears to be a case of finding the whereabouts of a missing wife turns out to be much more, as is typical of Chandler to make things a bit more complicated once the first mystery is presented to us. Marlowe is summoned and hired by Derace Kingsley to find his wife, Crystal Kingsley. Crystal has apparently slipped town with another man and Kingsley, worried about public scandal, puts a price on finding her. Marlowe heads to Little Fawn Lake, a small resort away from the city, to find some clues, as it seems to be the last place she was seen. As with many Marlowe novels, the primary mystery leads to a few other puzzles, and, soon after arriving and speaking with one of the more eccentric characters, heavy drinker Bill Chess, Marlowe finds himself in the middle of quite a case, where people aren’t really who you think they are and even if they are, you can’t really trust them. After a mysterious death, the game is pretty much on for Marlowe, as he tries to understand the motives of a murderer, all the while dealing with some shady types and even corrupt cops. I read The Big Sleep awhile back and was sold on Chandler. The Lady in the Lake is another solid entry into the Marlowe series, the fourth book in the series, which takes Marlowe out of his usual Los Angeles surroundings to backwards Bay City and into Little Fawn Lake. There’s something about Chandler’s prose and style that is so fitting for the setting and pace of The Lady in the Lake. With Marlowe as his lead, the novel can change from cynical humor to exacting, gripping tension and suspense within moments. Marlowe’s imperfect style of investigation really is what makes this novel tick, and he carries the torch for the narration, being able to read seedy people and dangerous situations. When there is a slip up, he has to worm his way out using those instincts he’s had for years. The Lady in the Lake is a fine example of a noir classic, and Chandler illustrates why he is considered one of the finest writers of this genre.

Dan Schwent

A rich man hires Phillip Marlowe to find his wife. The trail leads to a resort town and another dead woman. Where is Crystal Kingsley? And who killed Muriel Chess? And what did Chris Lavery or Dr. Almore have to do with it?The Lady in the Lake is a tale of lies, double crosses, cheating woman, murder, and a shop-soiled Galahad named Phillip Marlowe caught in the middle of it. Chander and Marlowe set the standards for slick-talking detectives for generations to come and Marlowe is in fine form in this outing, following the serpentine twists of the plot as best he can. Chandler's similes are in fine form, as is Marlowe's banter.Since Raymond Chandler is my favorite of the noir pioneers, I feel guilty for saying this but this thing is so convoluted I stopped caring about the plot about a third of the way in and just stuck around for the Scotch-smooth prose. Seriously, this has to be the most convoluted plot from the master of overly convoluted plots. I had an idea of the connection between the two women but it took forever for everything to come together. Marlowe couldn't be blamed for not cracking the case early on since it read like Raymond Chandler was making it up as he went in between weekend-long benders.To sum it up, the prose is up to par but the plot is a meandering mess. It's barely a 3 and my least favorite Chandler book I've read so far.

Joseph Duncan

Although the plot seemed overly intricate at times, I enjoyed the mystery, the settings and the characters. Raymond Chandler has a prose style that somehow manages to be very concise and very descriptive at the same time. His character, Philip Marlowe, is an endearingly crusty and deceptively brilliant private detective. I enjoyed the subtle, and not so subtle, ways in which Marlowe solved the mystery and steered the guilty parties toward a fitting punishment, and I very much enjoyed the witty banter and the author's insights into the human condition.


I've been reading Chandler and watching Game of Thrones. I need both. Both are about duplicity, survival, and maneuvering through power; maneuvering both through the small power of the violent individual, and the extended and deadly control of the powerful. Chandler's stories have a roughly moral center in Philip Marlowe. He's not much of a moral center, but he's close enough in a world of masks, in a world of moral uncertainty, in a world were bad timing can end in death. He rejects power. Marlowe knows he's nothing. But he can go through all realms and he swears allegiance to no one. Not the cops; not the rich; not the underworld; not the violent. No one. He is a participant, but rarely with any stake in the game. Mainly he gambles for the truth. The truth that is buried, hidden, unseen. He is beaten and betrayed in pursuit of the truth, but at least he has his own code and his own life and his own ability to move throughout his realm.In Chandler things can go wrong fast. One second you're on top of the world, and the next you're floating at the bottom of a lake, dead and forgotten for a month. One second you're a top cop; the next you have gun in your face. One second you're a successful member of society, and the next you've lost it all. One second you're a conniving killer, and the next you're a strangled naked corpse. Gigolo, crooked doctor, crooked cop, femme fatale, socialite, detective, war vet; no one is safe; no one is clean. This book, like all of Chandler's books, speaks to me right now. I need his stories of perseverance in the face of ever-present corruption, omnipresent failure, and bottomless contradicting motivations. I need his stories of perseverance in the face of endless darkness. Chandler reminds us that the darkness is not from without, but from the all-too-human complexities that make life hell. That it is basic human drives that make life confusing and vague and gray. Chandler reminds us that motivations are never clean, never pure. And occasionally, when things break down, those basic human drives turn destructive, violent, or deadly.There is no other way.


The Lady in the Lake is my least favorite of the Raymond Chandler's I've read (behind The Long Goodbye and Farewell, my Lovely) but that's a bit like saying, "This is the third largest lump of gold I've found in the river."It's still gold, and it's still something you found in a river. Not exactly a woman's golden ring, but not a dirt pie either.Despite what some other reviewers on here will suggest (too many Literature classes in college, I would suspect), Raymond Chandler was not writing social commentary. He is not Charles Dickens. He was not writing the type of sophisticated literary pizzazz that you display front and foremost on your bookshelves in order to impress house-guests gussied up in tailored suits and faux British accents who use words like "whom" and "paradigm." He was writing entertaining detective fiction. Not quite noir pulp, but that is the childhood from which his writing escaped. It bought a train ticket out of there and promised to never come back, but it's there, all the same.And yet the joy of reading Raymond Chandler is much the joy of reading Literary fiction - that is, the style is the delight, the writing, the metaphors, the insight. Through Philip Marlowe's voice, Raymond Chandler imbues everything, from people's faces to Venetian blinds, with the air of a dark, sarcastic romance. It is an air in which cold-hearted murder, adultery, and police cover-ups are not quite as dirty as they ought to be, they have a bit of a shine, a glimmer to them, which for my money makes them all the more grotesque.So Lady in the Lake has a plot, it's a who-dunnit with twists and turns, growing ever more complicated as the murder count grows ever higher. It's got corrupt police and dangerous dames - all the staples you might expect from a Raymond Chandler. But who cares? Cause it's also got that glimmer I mentioned, and it's the glamour that I came to this book for and it's glamour that I got.


"Police business," he said almost gently, "is a hell of a problem. It's a good deal like politics. It asks for the highest type of men, and there’s nothing in it to attract the highest type of men . So we have to work with what we get— and we get things like this."A man’s wife is missing and Philip Marlowe is hired to find her. When his search leads him to the discovery of a different dead woman, the self-proclaimed "Murder-A-Day Marlowe" has questions and by God, people are going to answer them.I don’t really have a lot to say about this one other than Chandler is in fine form when it comes to quick-witted smart talk ("I said, just to be moving my mouth") with tremendous one-liners and similes. Chandler really gives Marlowe a beating in this one, it’s a wonder he can stand at the end after all the blackjack shots and slugs to the face. I’m sure he wonders at times if it’s really worth it.Of the four Marlowe novels I've read so far, I felt The Lady In The Lake had one of the more coherent, easy-to-follow plots – that is up until the end anyway. While developments seem to uncover rapidly (honestly, Marlowe solves this thing in two days tops) and everything eventually ties together in the end, it felt pretty far fetched when summing it up. That isn't to say it’s a bad book; it’s as many have stated in the past, no one really reads Chandler for the plot and when the dust settled, this novel was perfect evidence to back that statement up.Also posted @ Every Read Thing.


Raindrops on strippers and crisp apple gunshotsBright copper floozies and warm woolly whatnots, Muscular gentlemen tied up with stringsThese are a few of my favorite thingsGirls in bikinis with breathtaking lipstickSlayed belles on gurneys as fast talking dicks quipSilverwhite cocaine and fabulous blingThese are a few of my favourite thingFinding those corpses with wide ugly gashesAnd no nose at all and not many eyelashesAnd Chandler and Marlowe and slightly left wingsThese are a few of my favourite things


The Lady in the Lake is the tale of Private Detective Marlowe, who is hired to find a missing woman by her husband. Marlowe finds a woman dead in the lake of this couples cabin getaway, but it isn’t the same woman, it is the wife of the caretaker. With all his great detective skills, humor and wit; Marlowe attempts to uncover this mystery, with some interesting results. I do have to admit, I’ve got a special place in my heart for all things written by Raymond Chandler; especially the Philip Marlowe series. I beleive this is the forth book I’ve read in this series, and i do plan to read them all. The Lady in the Lake, follows the standard Chandler format; Marlowe gets hired for a case that appears to be an easy job on the surfice, as he follows the case where ever it takes him, it become more and more complex.


I'd never read Raymond Chandler. I always heard his name in comparison to Murakami, so I've been interested in reading one of his books for as long as I've been a Murakami fan.This was so much fun to read mostly because Chandler's detective is witty and smart. He notices the small things and describes things in ways most people would never think of. Read the first chapter and decide for yourself. This book has a good, if not confusing, murder-mystery, but Chandler keeps it moving with the right mix of intrigue, comedy, and excitement.Good fun!


Raymond Chandler is not only one of the finest writers in the English language but he's the gold standard for detective fiction. This novel is certainly no exception delivering a twisty and constantly surprising plot, deftly drawn and endlessly fascinating characters and, of course, perfect pacing and suspense. It's even the perfect length. Chandler manages to be sincere and sarcastic at the same time, can deliver irony in plain and simple fact and does dialogue (spoken and unspoken) like nobody else. There's a quote on back of the book jacket that says that Chandler is a master. Wrong. He's THE master.

Cathy DuPont

I am so glad that I started reading Chandler (and Marlowe) from the first book otherwise I would have put this one down.I was about half way when I decided to read some reviews on Kindle to see if I was missing something and sure enough, there were others who felt similar to me, that it wasn't 'up to snuff' with the last two books.The writing was great alright but the story was so convoluted it was difficult to keep up with. The ending seemed to be like all these loose threads conveniently gathered together to tie a nice little package. It seemed somewhat conveniently contrived.Must say though that there were two characters who really captured my imagination which helped me move forward...the drunk whose wife is found drowned and the local sheriff. Both were colorful and added a lot to the story, thank goodness. Just a caution to those who have never read Chandler: read from the beginning, don't begin with this book first otherwise you won't be too excited to read the others which are wonderful in all ways...writings, descriptions of place, storyline and characters. Hope the next Chandler is as great as the earlier ones.

Patrick O'Neil

I moved to Hollywood last year and this summer I decided to re-read all of Raymond Chandler's work. I live in the neighborhood he often describes. I walk the same streets as his protagonist Philip Marlowe. Even though LA seems hell bent to eradicate its past there are still remnants of those days. A lot of the restaurants, hotels, and apartment buildings are still here, while the streets and neighborhoods never change names. If you look in the shadows there's the grit of a bygone era just under the surface. Chandler's narratives are intriguing - his dialogue and imagery hearken back to his era. There is a haunting beauty to the simplicity of it all. Tough guys, hot dames, crooked cops, and everyone an alcoholic. The noir beauty makes me wonder what America was really like back then.


Better plotted but with a weaker prose than The Big Sleep. It runs smooth for the most part of the book but the final chapters go quite fast and a little far-fetched to my taste to make all the pieces fit.


Everyone’s favorite hard-boiled private eye Marlowe is back, and this time he’s been hired to track down a respectable entrepreneur’s wild wife. She sent a telegram weeks ago stating she was going to marry her boy toy, Lavery, but Lavery was spotted in Hollywood and claims to have no idea where Mrs. Kingsley is. The last place she was known to be was at the Kingsleys’ lake-side country cottage, so that small town is where Marlowe starts his investigation.Having the setting partly in the countryside wasn't quite the grit I've come to expect and love from Chandler, but it was interesting to see Marlowe in a new surrounding. Speaking of Marlowe, everything there is to love about him is strongly present in this entry from his biting wit to his perpetual liquor drinking. (He has an "office bottle." I giggled). The mystery is completely baffling but makes perfect sense when revealed. I was kicking myself for not figuring it out! The femme fatale is a bit disappointing, however. She has the violence and brutality down pat, but not the necessary oozing sexiness.Overall, it's a fun entry in Marlowe's world but not the best in the series.Check out my full review.

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