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

Jason 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....

Alberto

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.

Nancy Oakes

Cutting right to the chase, the fourth novel in Chandler's Marlowe series begins with a missing wife. Degrace Kingsley, a businessman in the perfume business, hires Marlowe to find his wife Crystal. Although they'd been "washed up for years," Kingsley needs Marlowe to find her to make sure she hasn't done anything scandalous to reflect back on him. The last time he knew Crystal's actual whereabouts was a month earlier, when she was staying at their cabin up at at Little Fawn Lake at Puma Point. Marlowe travels there, meets Kingsley's alcoholic caretaker, Bill Chess, whose wife has also disappeared. Not a believer in coincidence, Marlowe decides that he needs to look into both cases, and finds a lot more than he expected. Things in Los Angeles have changed a bit since the time of The High Window. Chandler makes a number of references to the war starting with the very first sentence of the novel, as a sidewalk in front of Kingsley's office building, made of "black and white rubber blocks" is being dismantled to go the government. Later, he notes that armed sentries are standing guard at the dam at Puma (read Big Bear) Lake, "at each end and one in the middle." Marlowe runs into a woman who walked to her destination to save her tires for the government. Men are waiting to hear about their enlistment. At the same time, some things have remained the same: crooked cops, murder, blackmail, illegal gambling and drugs are still in action in the city. There's another big difference in this book that sets it apart as well -- a good deal of action takes place away from LA, up in the mountains where life is much slower, where deer walk unimpeded, where people are actually nice, and where rudeness is conspicuous and not appreciated. It's an entirely different world, just a few hours' drive from the city. The Lady in the Lake is quite intriguing, and although isn't my favorite of the Marlowe novels so far, Chandler is still very much on top of his game here. The same wisecracks and witty turns of phrase are still in play. Marlowe continues to try to hold on to his own moral compass while having to resort to less than ethical means to find the bad guys. And while there is a basic formula shared by all of these novels -- Marlowe being hired, Marlowe bumping into peripheral cases that somehow tie to his own investigations and get him into some sort of trouble -- each book is different in its own way. Normally when crime novels get formulaic I get bored. For some reason, that's just not the case with these books -- between Chandler's writing, his focus not just on Marlowe but the other characters as well, and the way he describes Marlowe's Los Angeles, I can't get enough.

Derek Bevil

This was my 6th(?) Chandler and one of my favorites thus far. I still have two to go, but Lady in the Lake surprised me with its consistently dark ghoulish tone and compact, well-executed storyline. I had previously seen the Robert Montgomery film version (famous for its radical first-person perspective camera technique) and was expecting the novel to have the same lighter, loose, borderline comic tone of the film. It does not. In this novel the war is very much an important part of the subtext. National Guardsmen bookend the mystery symbolically and veterans appear throughout--bored boys in beer bars or wounded drunks damaged beyond repair. Chandler creates a world of shakedown artists tending the farm (i.e. Southern California) in their absence. It is a raw, lawless, fluid world where the vice and violence can be covered over with both expensive and cheap perfume alike.Some have complained about the obviousness of the plot. Besides being immaterial to the enjoyment of a Chandler mystery, it's simply not true in all aspects. Chandler has created some great side characters here: Patton, Degarmo, Bill Chess, and even Miss Fromsett are all memorable and strongly rendered. This book strikes me as Chandler growing more aware and in command of his artistry not just as a mystery writer but as a novelist. Mood is paramount and Marlowe comes across less dynamically but more observant and introspective. He observes a lot in this book and his musings are frequently poignant and humane. HIs scene with the Mrs Almore's bitter parents is particularly nuanced and touching. I loved this book and look forward with growing dread to finishing the last two on my list.

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 things

Nick

For me, there are two kinds of detective story, both of which can be enjoyable. There are those that are essentially puzzles, like crosswords, and those that include characters you might care about, a strong sense of place, and an atmosphere of mystery that does not completely dissipate when you know who the killer is.Chandler's books are, of course, in the latter category: but I felt this one had slightly more of the puzzle about it and slightly less conviction and urgency than The Big Sleep.There are still many pleasures to it. Chandler has a deft hand for the ironic or dryly humorous aside, which leads to a lot of wry smiles when you're reading the book. He's also amazingly good at sketching a character in half a sentence so that you can immediately form a vivid picture of them. There are some tense, exciting scenes, and I didn't see the solution to the mystery coming, though I felt that I should have. The final, understated showdown between the two cops is almost worth picking up the book for in itself.The reason it only gets three stars is because it didn't have the depth of The Big Sleep and the ending, despite the aforementioned scene, is a little flat and abrupt. Marlowe delivers an almost Poirot-style reveal (though not quite all the characters are in the room) which is dramatic and ties up all the loose threads of the plot but does not provide, for me anyway, the necessary resolution on an emotional or psychological level. To put it another way, I was left feeling that my insight into the main characters' motivations was a little superficial. That's why for me, this didn't measure up to The Big Sleep: it was a good detective story, but not a great novel.

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!

Mark

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.

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.

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.

Troy

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.

Michael

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.

Fausto

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.”

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.

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