DAMAS DE ARMAS TOMARFue la primera novela que leí de este escritor norteamericano y que apenas recordaba. Seguramente la primera lectura no la he disfrutado tanto y tampoco me he cerciorado de su gran categoría como ahora. Se puede decir que esta relectura ha sido una nueva historia para mí, y bastante agradable.“La dama del lago”, título con reminiscencias de la leyenda artúrica, es la 4ª novela y el ecuador de la serie de relatos protagonizados por Philip Marlowe. Además del marco natural de Los Ángeles, el detective se desenvuelve, como pez en el agua, en parajes lacustres rodeados por la naturaleza salvaje, y ambientes urbanos, no menos peligrosos, de ciudades más pequeñas como Bay City (topónimo que disfraza a Santa Mónica). Novela escrita en 1943, posee la misma fecha la acción narrada. En el texto hay diseminadas varias alusiones que hacen referencia a la coetánea 2ª Guerra Mundial; presente en forma indefinida, como algo tan amenazador como espectral.Un relato donde es incontestable el protagonismo femenino en la trama. Deambulan varias mujeres de variado “calado”: la clásica femme fatale tan seductora como manipuladora y mortífera; secretarias atractivas e inteligentes que son eficientes en varias facetas; esposas celosas e impertinentes; o aquellas que son independientes, promiscuas, frívolas y caprichosas, y que, ante un posible escándalo, son el quebradero de cabeza de sus ocupados y temerosos maridos.Otra peculiaridad de “La dama del lago”, son sus personajes normales y corrientes. Esta vez no se pasean por el argumento gánsteres, traficantes de drogas o políticos corruptos; habituales especímenes en sus primeros libros.Del mismo modo que en las obras anteriores, Marlowe hace gala de cinismo, desconfianza y un ingenioso sarcasmo en sus diálogos. Tiene como objetivo encontrar la verdad, que permanece oculta entre apariencias, pasados oscuros, enredos y personas sin esperanzas. Con humor acido, desapego, psicología sobre la condición humana y su larga experiencia, intentará seguir una actitud recta y honesta en un camino lleno de recovecos.Como toda buena novela negra, y como las antecesoras de Chandler, la intriga tiene (y debe) como principal intención el análisis de la sociedad, y poder cristalizarlo mediante la narración en forma de denuncia. Al igual que en “La ventana alta”, intenta sacudir conciencias mostrando los métodos abusivos que utiliza la policía de una población pequeña y “tranquila”. Sin embargo, Chandler no cae en el error (y poco real) del maniqueísmo absoluto, además muestra la honestidad y la profesionalidad (tan acorde a Marlowe) de algunos de estos “denostados” agentes de la ley. El misterio, la búsqueda de una mujer desaparecida y el hallazgo de un cadáver, no solamente cumple el requisito de introducirnos y describirnos la corrupción, la degeneración moral y la ambición de una comunidad o personas, si no que juega un papel importante el resolver el enigma. En la mayoría de este tipo de novelas la trama detectivesca del caso queda relegada a un segundo plano, pero, esta vez, Chandler acentúa y da más énfasis a la intriga. El escritor cuida más las pistas, los indicios y los detalles puramente manejados por el detective de pipa y lupa. Y mezclado con las características habituales de cinismo, mordacidad, violencia, sexo, alcohol, drogas, etc. da un resultado con doble satisfacción para los amantes de ambos géneros consanguíneos.Aunque, para ser sincero, uno de los misterios principales parece bastante obvio y es fácil descubrirlo.Trama elaborada con varias ramificaciones, con toques de casualidad y causalidad, que la hacen aún más interesante. Con un estilo habitual en Chandler (directo y conciso) confecciona una intriga compleja y adictiva; todo un goce para esta clase de lectura. Hasta ahora (me faltan 3), y junto con “Adiós, muñeca”, son los mejores casos de este procaz y solitario detective.Libros que dejan huella, como varias de sus frases. Y para terminar mi comentario, copio una de ellas: “No me gustan sus modales…" "No importa -le respondí - no están en venta.”David
Ramymond Chandler's The Lady in the Lake . . . in which we learn that . . . Raymond Chandler has bills to pay. This book features the over-plotting of Farewell, My Lovely but without that (superior) novel's weight of hard-bitten gravitas. The weakest of the first four Philip Marlowe novels.Franky
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.Nikki
This might've been my favourite so far, and that might be because I managed to figure it out before Chandler got there. I like feeling smart, and after he lost me plenty of times in the other books, I got pleased with myself for following this one just fine. The plotting was tighter, or at least, more comprehensible, and it didn't seem to inexplicably wander quite so much.As always, though, in my opinion the writing was the stronger part -- and the characterisation, of course: mostly that of Marlowe. His dialogue and the first person narrative see to that. The writing/dialogue isn't so stunning now I know what to expect from Chandler, but it's still good. The whole exchange about 'whom' made me laugh: "Did he say whom?"/"Yeah, but don't hit him. There is such a word."/"I knew there was. I often wondered where they kept it."A couple more to go. I'll be sad when I run out of Chandler.Richard
There is a passage from this book that will haunt me for years to come. Certain books can do this for some reason, put an image in your mind that will affect you more than something you saw on TV. I remember these images sometimes, years later. Booze looses them from the depths of my psyche. They are snapshots from the noosphere, they let me tap into the mainline of the collective consciousness. Or something.For me, in this book, it's when the drowned woman's body comes rolling up from the green water of the mountain lake. She has a green necklace around her neck and her face is reduced to goo from being underwater.Eerie.Haunting.Brandon
"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.L.A. Starks
Chandler's style is exquisite; the primary plot devices ultimately don't work for me. This is a great book for Marlowe fans and for those who love language.Cat
At about age 15 I sat and read this book almost in a sitting. Welcome to pulp fiction. I devoured all Chandler's novels and enjoyed their retro appeal even with the dated gender ideas. Chandler led me on to read James Lee Burke, one of my all time favourite crime writers and who can resist Robert Crais's Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels? I also charged through the Patricia Cornwell/Kay Scarpetta novels with relish, Lawrence Block, Elmore Leonard and other authors I no longer remember. Chandler really brought crime fiction to life!Paul
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 thingsJason Coleman
Sometimes when I read Chandler I wish he could have found a way to break out of the formula and really let his imagination loose—just let all the poetry and over-too-soon bit parts fill the page. He seems more interested in everything else than the so-called plot. On the other hand, maybe he hit it just right. The weirdness that is so compelling on the periphery of his writing might fall apart under the harsh light of center stage.Chandler's passing-glance encounters always have the quality of real, observed life. One of the least fussy writers who ever lived, his descriptions are effortlessly evocative. Here's Marlowe entering an empty house: "The room had a hushed warm smell, the smell of late morning in a house not yet opened up….In the silence time passed. It passed in the dry whirr of the electric clock on the mantel, in the far-off toot of an auto horn on Aster Drive, in the hornet drone of a plane over the foothills across the canyon, in the sudden lurch and growl of the electric refrigerator in the kitchen." Chandler's gift was essentially lyrical.Steffan
I've read this book now three times in as many months. More times in as many years. The first time I read it, years ago, I was nineteen. Much older now, I had to come back with a different perspective and try to see what Raymond Chandler was really up to. Entertaining the reader wasn't the point. Sending Marlowe into another violent beat down, like some of the other books, wasn't the point. Chasing down the mystery man, or woman, wasn't the point either.I can say this. Raymond Chandler, for those paying attention, penned a social portrait of the relationship that the public had with the police department at the time. This is a Dickensian social commentary on the the differences of two small town (at the time) police Departments. Santa Monica PD and Lake Arrowhead Sheriff's Deputies versus the public. What you get is two polar opposites.The book before this, my personal favourite, The High Window, also has an incredibly dark take of the Los Angeles Police Department during the late 30s early 40s. The Lady In The Lake though is to The High Window as what a film is to a snapshot. This being the film.Conan Doyle once stated as Holmes:"It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside." [The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892) Sherlock Holmes in "The Copper Beeches" (Doubleday p. 323)]I would place a heavy wager that after The High Window came out, some of his critics were probably roasting him for his heavy-handed and dark portraits of the LAPD, which were likely too spot-on and were trying to deflect a bit for them and making the exact same point that Doyle made. I would imagine this novel is the response to that, and from that context, this book reads like a chess move. Knight to Kings' 4. I would also imagine that he was probably hearing it getting louder throughout his career. If you've read the earlier books in the series, then you'll know exactly what I'm speaking of here. And yes, Chandler was very much aware and concerned in regards to his critics.One of the more interesting aspects of this story, is that every single Police Officer or Law Enforcement official is an archetypal figure. A known stereotype lifted straight from the modern vernacular of that day. These days, Police procedural are no big whoop. But back then, you'd be hard pressed to find a plethora of them or any as scathing. With high-profile crimes like Black Dahlia and many others, as well as folks like Weegee (Arthur Fellig), Los Angeles really was a hot-bed for corruption and cops who would sap a man dead rather than fill out a tiresome form.(Sheriff) Patton up at Puma Lake & Little Fawn lake (Arrowhead & Big Bear Lake) is the indomitable, savvy veteran Sheriff who suffers no fools but wastes no energy being impolite. When you think you have him figured, you'd guess wrong.Degarmo is the text-book ne'er-do-well who roughs people up, frames poor saps who cross his path and busts people he doesn't like for intoxication and saps them on the back of the skull. He's like the bad guy out of every detective novel with a badge. Sneer included. Toothpick and quick-draw intact. Every instance on the page of this character has the reader cringing from Degarmo's behaviour, choice of words and inappropriate decisions.Webber, Chief over in Santa Monica - or Bay City as Chandler always referred to it, is the out of touch, administrative, trusting General who probably doesn't know half the business his men are getting into and is usually late to the scene on every occasion. He becomes an interesting character, quickly, once he's unearthed. It's curious that Chandler writes so snidely though about Santa Monica Police of this era, but perhaps he knew something back then that we don't, as readers, have a bead on anymore.Someone's going to mince words with me about Bay City being Santa Monica and Pacific Palisades, but in this context, we know that Chandler was writing about Santa Monica, while some of the victims did reside in Pac Palisades. Hope that clarifies it.All the other detectives and beat patrolmen do nothing but ratchet up the tension with every appearance.So much ground is covered in this book, in such a detailed manner, that the reader never sees any of it coming and the idea of stays well camouflaged throughout most of the book. You think Chandler is trying to tell a complex story about a Doctor's wife that he might've worked out backwards, first, in order to write it out artfully, but I think that would lead down the wrong mountain path.The plot becomes so convoluted in fact, that it takes almost four pages towards the end, without much dialogue or paragraph breaks to explain how it all ended up the way it did. When it does, you're left not just scratching your head a bit, but a tad dazed. It's a mouthful of explanation that reads more like Agatha Christie than it does Raymond Chandler.He was on top of his game during this period and I doubt that something so obvious, at least to me, wasn't his main aim. Chandler was a master story teller and the Dickens' of his age. Chandler was writing very detailed essays during this era about the very thing that I've highlighted in this review. Social commentary in fiction. He also wrote a lot about Charles Dickens and was a definite fan.I don't think I'm the first person to state that the overall story is pretty ludicrous. By the time you get 170 pages in, if you're not smelling the set up, then you probably just coast through books half asleep as it is. Reading like it's some form of sedative while you're curled up in bed after a long day. That's not a crime, but it does set the reader up for only a quarter of the message of the book. Some people like it like that though...."Police business 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." -- Webber to Marlowe...."I'm all done with hating you. It's all washed out of me. I hate people hard, but I don't hate them very long." -- Marlowe to Degarmo....C.E.
It's funny how, when the truly great American writers are mentioned, Chandler's name doesn't immediately come to mind. That's probably because he plied his trade in genre fiction, instead of something more instantly respectable. Still, you'd be hard pressed to find another writer as gifted in the art of crafting immaculately written sentences in clean crisp electric prose that leaps off the page, in a low-key sort of way. This relatively short (266 pages) work scores highly because its plot isn't as muddy as some of Chandler's other works. But really, plot doesn't matter so much as Chandler's fine understanding of human nature, Phillip Marlowe's gifts as narrator and most of all, the author's dazzling command of the English language. Few if any were ever any better.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.Timothy
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!Erik
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.