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ISBN: 8402050417
ISBN 13: 9788402050410
By: Raymond Chandler

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About this book

Philip Marlowe's client, a dried-up husk of a woman, wants him to recover a rare gold coin called a Brasher Doubloon, missing from her late husband's collection. Easy. Probably too easy. Unfortunately, each time the Doubloon pops up, so does a murder. That's unlucky for a private investigator, because leaving a trail of corpses around LA gets cops' noses out of joint. If Marlowe doesn't wrap this one up fast, he's going to end up in jail – or worse, in a box in the ground.

Reader's Thoughts

Dan Schwent

Philip Marlowe is hired to find the Brasher doubloon, a valuable gold coin stolen from its owner. Marlowe trails the owner's daughter in law, thinking she stole the coin. Marlowe's path leads him into a web of murder and blackmail. Will Marlowe be able to find who stole the doubloon without winding up on the pile of corpses left in its wake?As I continuously mention, noir fiction of this type agrees with me like a bottle of Mad Dog does a homeless man. The High Window, Raymond Chandler's third Philip Marlowe book, is no exception.A wise man once said "No one reads Raymond Chandler for the plot." I agree with whomever that wizzened old sage was. Chandler never met a plot he couldn't overly complicate but The High Window is one of his more coherent ones. The search for a stolen doubloon sees multiple men dead and a wealthy family's secrets pulled out of the basement and thrown on the front lawn for all the neighbors to see.Marlowe is Marlowe. As usual, much of the supporting cast exists mostly for Marlowe to bounce great lines off of and/or have sapping or shooting at him. The Bright family is a bunch of rotten apples one and all. As I said before, this is one of Chandler's simpler plots but it's still a bit of a mess. It took me a little while to tip to the connection between the dentist and the missing coin. The blackmail angle was well done. Chandler played his cards close to the vest, like always. "It just made me want to climb up the wall and gnaw my way across the ceiling." Marlowe used that line to describe a drink he took. That's how I felt about the plot sometimes.It's no surprise by now that Chandler's prose is the star of the show. I mentioned in my review of Farewell, My Lovely, that Chandler's prose sometimes reminded me of a gritty P.G. Wodehouse. I've since learned that Chandler spent a lot of his early life in England so that's a little easier to understand now.While it's my least favorite of the three Chandler books I've read so far, The High Window is still a great read, if for no other reason than to experience Raymond Chandler's prose. Not quite a four but it's an overflowing three star read.


I once read in a mystery readers' newsletter that one invariably favors either Chandler or Hammett, and that the minute difference in character between the two preferences is an unbridgeable gap. I started with Hammett, and expected much more than I got. It was brusque and brooding, but its brusqueness lacked refinement: it was not laconic but merely truncated.The brooding lacked the sardonic wryness which I had come to associate with crime fiction, and which I now find to be the flourished signature of Chandler, with his abstracted yet fitting metaphors. Chandler also misses the mark when it comes to laconic elegance, leaning more to the luridly painted scene.Both have that slow-burn plot that is only saved by the aid of an insider (and coincidentally, the delivery of a small box containing the macguffin). Hence, I wouldn't call the plotting tight, exactly, as it hinges on a kind of authorial intervention to keep it moving; but it does move.In the end, Chandler could have used a bit of Hammett's brusqueness, while Hammet could use a lot of Chandler's elegance, if you could call it elegance. The sort of elegance shown by a nondescript thug pulling and firing, killing without wasting a second bullet, and then disappearing into the wave of screaming, trampling patrons, leaving behind only a body amongst the broken glasses, spilled liquor, and ticket stubs. If there could be any elegance in a thing like that.But that newsletter was right. I find myself drawn to Chandler and scorning Hammett. As with most such contests, it all comes down to the commas, in the end. In Chandler, they're a shrug, a wistful moment: a recognition that whatever you're about to say isn't what you wanted to say. In Hammett they're a stutter before a restatement.Both show a recognition of something left unsaid, something sought for but in the end, something not found. That's the legacy of most crime novels: that even when you find what you were looking for, it doesn't change anything, and that need to look is still there.And when a man searches for that thing and fails to find it, I find him more charming if he shrugs instead of stutters.


Raymond Chandler’s The High Window sees Philip Marlowe investigating the theft of a rare early American gold coin, the Brasher Doubloon. The case turns out also to involve blackmail and three murders. This is vintage Chandler. The plot is delightfully Byzantine. Marlowe, as usual, finds himself trying to resolve the case in such a manner that at least some vague semblance of justice is done. Which isn’t easy, since just about everybody has something nasty that they’re trying to hide. Chandler is worth reading just for his glorious prose, and his extraordinary ear for dialogue. Add to that one of the most fascinating and complex of all fictional detectives and you have some of the greatest crime writing of all time.


Whenever I review one of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novels I feel like I should be doing it with a half-bottle of rye on the desk next to the cigarette burning in an ashtray with my fedora pushed back on my head. But I quit smoking years ago, and I don’t bounce back from hangovers quite the way I used to so I try not to chug whiskey from the bottle these days unless it‘s a dire emergency. Maybe I can still get the hat….Marlowe gets hired by a ball-busting old bag who thinks that that the daughter-in-law she despises ran off with a valuable rare gold coin from her late husband’s collection. As usual Marlowe soon finds himself wrapped up in a mess including several murders as he is forced to preserve the confidentiality of a client he doesn’t like against cops pressing him for answers.This was a Chandler I hadn’t read before, and I had a surprisingly hard time getting into it for some reason. After a while the lines like “From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet she looked something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.’ got me into the groove, and while I wouldn’t call it the best Marlowe I’ve read, I ended up enjoying it quite a bit.The thing that nudge it from a solid 3 stars to 4 was the ending. (view spoiler)[I loved that after Marlowe figured out the whole mess that he essentially just threw up his hands and decided to let it play out with only a few nudges from him while he focused on trying to help the one true victim. (hide spoiler)]It won’t be replacing The Big Sleep on my All-Time Greatest Detective Novel list, but it’s still Chandler in fine form.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Webster Bull

Of the Philip Marlowe novels, which I am now re-reading in chronological order, this is the least satisfying to me. Almost every chapter sparkles with one of Chandler's precise, moody descriptions of character and place, and the dialog is never less than to-die-for (speaking as a writer with humor envy). But the plot seems even more desultory than the typical Marlowe, wandering in the dark as if Chandler himself never quite knew how all the puzzle pieces fit together until the final laydown. And key antagonists like Mrs. Murdock and Alex Morny, even Morny's henchman Eddie Prue, don't stand out quite as sharply from the landscape as in other books. I was annoyed early on when I confused two characters with similar names: Elisha Morningstar and "Morny," which seemed a nickname for Morningstar. In fact one proves a villain, the other a victim. The most interesting-to-me character is a relatively minor one, Mrs. Murdock's secretary, Merle, whose masochistic psychology is obviously of interest to Chandler too.The final working out of justice is complex and satisfying. After three murders and miscellaneous felonies and mishaps, Marlowe, the hard-drinking moralist, deems justice done, even though the cops get much of it wrong.


3º caso del detective Philip Marlowe, donde se continúa con las características típicas del género negro desarrolladas en las anteriores entregas: el detective cínico y amargado, la mujer fatal (en este libro son 2), el dinero, el crimen, la policía, la corrupción, suspense e intriga, diálogos brillantes y cortantes, etc.Chandler tiene un gran estilo descriptivo, no tan sólo para los edificios y la fisonomía de los personajes, también para retratar con crudeza la realidad social que le rodea. Un caso, con apariencia simple, de un robo de una moneda antigua, rara y valiosa desencadenará unas tramas de engaño, amores, asesinatos, pasión por el dinero, recuerdos del pasado, y traumas psicológicos.Además de la amena trama, se hace alusión a la afición del ajedrez del detective, que junto con el alcohol son sus vías de escape de una realidad nada atractiva. También hay unas pequeñas referencias a la literatura (como en los anteriores libros): a “Cumbres borrascosas” (Heathcliff, el nombre de un perro), y a “El Quijote”, ya que un personaje denomina al detective como “el caballero de la triste figura”; y, en verdad, tiene un aire quijotesco por su afán de buscar la verdad y su sentido del honor.


Having read a lot of Raymond Chandler through the years and now, finally going back and re-reading everything with a more widened perspective on the genre, The High Window easily stands out as his finest work.The High Window, unlike a lot of genre Private Detective stories, which so many other authors have spent lifetimes struggling to copy and coming up short, keeps you guessing until the very end. Some authors give you a nibble about half way through a story and it falls apart in your lap and you figure it out. The High Window defies that solidly. You will be guessing about this one until the very end. Nothing is done ham-handedly or over-quick just to wrap it up either. This book could serve as a role model to other authors about how to write an ending, as I'm sure it has -- even if you don't write Detective Noir fiction.If you're reading this review and a certain Humphrey Bogart film brought you here, and you don't know much about Raymond Chandler, just know that he was and is considered one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century. During his lifetime however he was dismissed as just a regular struggling hack novelist, because of the Genre, and not given a lot of attention. A lot of other authors, like Philip K. Dick for instance, another Angelino, suffered greatly under this prejudice during their lifetime because of supposed conventionalities. Sometimes, looking back you just have to wonder if it really was a West Coast prejudice, where anything outside of the New York circle of authors was thought worthless, or the critics just didn't have enough insight into life. Probably both.The High Window moves very quickly, very smoothly, never misses a beat or falls flat for a single page. Chandler did drink a lot and it sometimes shows in his other novels, but with this effort you can see a lot of genius, planning and careful, methodic work ... just like the protagonist Philip Marlowe working a case.The dialogue is as witty as Farewell, My Lovely and the wisecracks are even sharper than The Big Sleep. This book is also absent of the one problem that I have Chandler and that is his disconnection of information from novel to novel. Some of his stories never mention a single word about anyone or anything from his other books, however, in The High Window, I underlined five direct references to his other works. These are nice touches and just things I like, because it's like going to a friends house and being able to recognize the furniture. The Little Sister does a better job with bringing out a familiar cadre of Policemen, but this book is where it's out.The main thought regarding the story though is all about protection of the client and their anonymity. Marlowe knows that if he has to turn over and talk, he's pretty much out of a job. This is a story about just that. While he takes on only one paid client, it feels as if he makes an exercise in proving that his word is his bond.There's a few youtube links in the comments regarding some documentary footage concerning Chandler as well a Chandler interview with James Bond author Ian Fleming, where Chandler states that he believes himself to be one of the greatest living American writers -- and Fleming agrees. Fantastic stuff....4 part Interview with Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming: part Raymond Chandler Documentary on Crime, Los Angeles and his writing.


Had an overwhelming craving for a dose of Chandler's sordid urban poetry and opted for this, one of his novels that I've read only once. Promptly proceeded to devour it within the course of 36 hours. Usually not considered one of the highlights of Chandler's compact oeuvre, about halfway through it struck me how difficult it is to distinguish between "great" Chandler and the "merely good," as this is really terrific stuff.But after finishing it became clear again why this isn't one of Chandler's finest moments: after a rip-roaring first half, it quickly and inexplicably goes very flat in the second. Less terse verbal shoot-outs between Marlowe and his jowly, draconian client Mrs. Murdoch, and less witty dealings with the quintessentially Chandler-esque mélange of colorful, perfectly delineated support characters. In their place are looooong explanatory chapters, typically with representatives of the law, which seem to drag on endlessly. Chandler himself chalked up to his disappointment with the novel to it having "no likable characters,"* which does become a problem upon the conclusion when (for me, at least), I couldn't muster up much interest who ended up being the good guys and who the bad. But even if The High Window ultimately doesn't reach the heights of Chandler's best work, the fact remains that second-tier Chandler is still better than most. *Quoted in Creatures of Darkness: Raymond Chandler, Detective Fiction, and Film Noir


I loved this book. I was expecting a story about a hard-boiled detective. I expected it to be little dated in some of its attitudes, given the time it was written. I was correct in both those.What I was not expecting was humour. Which, judging from the other reviewers' frequent mention of the wit that is Chandler, only proves that I've been living under a rock most of my life, but truly, I was surprised, and delighted to be!"A check-girl ... came over to take my hat and disapprove of my clothes. She had eyes like strange sins." (p. 136) The first sentence made me grin. The second ... what the hell does it mean, really? Who knows, but isn't it evocative? I'd love to have someone describe my eyes that way. Hee.I love, love, love his imagery: "Women who should be young but have faces like stale beer.""Her hair was as artificial as a night club lobby."And his so-clever descriptions of people, which pack so much information into so few words:"From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class. From ten feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from thirty feet away."For me, the solve-the-mystery part was secondary to the fun of the words. This is my first Chandler book, but I'll certainly be reading the other!


How can I not love a detective novel that includes allusions to Wuthering Heights and the Diary of Pepys? The reference to Marlowe as a Galahad figure is especially apt in this installment of the Marlowe novels; the ethical code Marlowe follows is explicitly stated and (it seems to me) more central to his internal conflict than in the other novels. While Chandler's noir focuses on the underbelly of American life, the level of individual corruption (the psychological exploitation of Merle Davis) is far more cruel and devious than plot threads in other novels. Marlowe's handling of Merle and his odious employer are what make him such a compelling character.


"The wind was quiet out here and the valley moonlight was so sharp that the black shadows looked as if they had been cut with an engraving tool."Marlowe is tasked with tracking down and acquiring a stolen rare coin dubbed the Brasher Doubloon. Its owner, Mrs. Murdock, believes that her recently estranged daughter-in-law is the culprit. Unfortunately for Marlowe, there’s rarely ever an open and shut case and it isn’t long before he’s tied up in a web of deceit and murder.I’m beginning to feel like there’s no such thing as a bad Marlowe story. While The High Window isn’t as quotable as The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, the case is just as interesting and the twists and turns in the story had me guessing right up to the end. It also doesn't hurt that the majority of the supporting cast are deplorable, shameless characters and while their actions affect others in ways they may not have intended, when they’re shown the error of their ways, they couldn't give a damn.One of the things I really enjoyed was Marlowe’s insistence that several of the folks he comes across ooze noir stereotypes (the sexy femme fatale, the tough talking club owner complete with big bodyguard). It’s one thing to write these characters but it’s another thing to call attention to it; almost like breaking the fourth wall so to speak.As many have pointed out, it’s not really because of the plot that you’re picking up a Chandler novel and I’m beginning to see why. Chandler writes Marlowe with such bravado, it’s like Marlowe thinks everyone is either constantly bluffing or just plain full of shit. He’s seemingly always a step ahead and he’s got more lines than a coke dealer.The High Window has a satisfying conclusion and once again reinforces why Chandler is considered a master of the crime fiction genre. Onward to book four!Also posted @ Every Read Thing

Nancy Oakes

At book three in this series it's getting harder to come up with new things to say about Chandler's Marlowe novels. Yes, I could offer up some of Chandler's clever similes or metaphors which change with each book, but I'm not going to do that. These novels are, in a word, excellent. Whether you read them for the writing, the often-cumbersome plots or the unforgettable characters, especially that of Philip Marlowe, considering that they were written around 70 years ago, the high quality of these books has remained steady so far. If you want to know about plot,I'm not bringing it out here; you can see what the book's about elsewhere. Aside from Chandler's witty metaphors, very cool prose and his take on the sprawl that is Los Angeles (which I am absolutely fascinated by, probably more than anything else in these books) what I am beginning to appreciate more about these novels is in the way Chandler explores people. Getting to the whodunit and most especially the why is really a vehicle for exploring individual psyches, especially Marlowe's. He becomes much more of a damsel-in-distress rescuer in this book, and continues his moral duty of keeping his client shielded from any possible fallout, even though it might mean that he soils his integrity in the bargain. He continues to hold onto his principled self -- his twenty-five dollars a day plus expenses is all he wants -- he can't be bought off, despite the expectations of clients and crooks alike. He works hard to get not only to the truth, but also to the heart of just what it is about people that makes them tick. But it's not just Marlowe -- pretty much anyone who takes any role in Marlowe's investigations gets even the tiniest bit of psychological air time from his or her creator. It's these individual stories when combined that showcase the people who exist in Marlowe's city; his interactions with these people who help to define who Marlowe is. And isn't. The High Window didn't feel as clunky or convoluted plotwise as its predecessors -- I am having so much fun with these novels and this one did not disappoint.

Joe Barlow

"I opened the screen and stepped out on to the porch. The night was all around, soft and quiet. The white moonlight was cold and clear, like the justice we dream of but don't find." --Raymond Chandler, "The High Window"Now that's more like it! Philip Marlowe is back in top form with this third entry in Chandler's celebrated mystery series. The mood is lighter than it was in "Farewell, My Lovely," with Marlowe tossing off his trademark witticisms and leers in roughly equal proportion, instead of that book's constant sulking. Chandler, as always, writes like a demigod, weaving a captivating tale of blackmail and a priceless stolen coin, both of which are tangled up with a long-ago murder. It's a ghost that won't lie still.Less confusing than "The Big Sleep," but less hopeless than "Farewell, My Lovely," "The High Window" is a terrific read. It ends on a surprising note of optimism, as one woman gets a second chance at happiness, thanks to Marlowe's actions. I plowed through it in no time, and couldn't get enough.

Michael A

This is my third Marlowe book. I've already written a lot about Chandler in general in prior reviews - and this one fails to add anything significantly new to the other two in most details - so I won't have a long review this time.By this point, Chandler had found a working formula and was coasting with it. Less iconic than The Big Sleep, less engaging and witty than Lovely, nevertheless this still was an entertaining afternoon read. This follows all the steps of his writing style and sense of noir story to a tee -- in fact, I'd say his range was more limited than Hammett's, who actually did try to vary up his repertoire a bit in his novels. We have witticisms, a regular cast of oddballs, Marlowe of course and his zen attitude, a jazzy noir story, and good solid pulp writing. All the things you expect from Mr. C, but, again, nothing new either. I'm about to start reading Lady in the Lake, so I hope my review will be a bit more interesting and that that one has something new to offer.Obviously you'll want to read this if you love Marlowe, or his style, but I think the casual fan could safely skip it without much loss. It wasn't his best book..

Patrick O'Neil

I was talking with a friend about detective noir mysteries of the 40's and how then it was a genre that was taking a chance, dealing with dark/tough subject matter and social issues, and that's why I find it appealing. It was somewhat like the beat generation writers were to the 60's, or what dope fiend memoirs are today. She agreed and said it was a venue that allowed the reader into a dark subculture that was intriguing, dangerous, and for the most part unattainable – and then she went one further and said, "like all those damn vampire books and movies that are so popular right now." TV shows like True Blood and book/movies like Twilight, where it's borderline necrophilia, outright violent, with heavy suggestions of danger. Or non-vampire stories such as cable shows like Breaking Bad where laws are definitely broken, but the characters are justified in doing so. Because for most people it's an escape into a fantasy that blurs morals, laws and values. They desire the forbidden fruit, they want the seduction, and then they want to go home and live their "normal" lives. Except for some it gets all messed up. They start dressing the part and living the dream. Norwegian Black Death metal bands killing each other and setting fire to churches. Kids in the suburbs going all gangster, getting "thug life" tats and capping domes. And I don't even want go off on that strange-ass Dungeons and Dragons weirdness of the 80's. But I'm getting a little off subject here – okay, a lot off. Yet what I'm trying to say is that what makes a writer like Raymond Chandler interesting is he used the genre to write books like The High Window - where he was able to broach sensitive subjects for the times - like mental health, child/sex abuse, racism, and extra curricular sex under the guise of a "detective mystery." It was a genre that allowed that. The subject matter was dark, and it didn't hold anything back. But it does leave me wondering if Chandler were a writer today what genre would he have chosen? Would he still be a mystery writer or would he be free to write fiction? (whatever that means) I tend to think he wouldn't have been confined to only writing detective stories.

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