Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Lady In The Lake

I have just finished The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler. It's been a long time since I read this book, high school in fact, and I remembered nothing of the story. (Somewhere deep down I knew that Marlowe drove a Chrysler and that info may have come from here (although I didn't catch the particular make I'm guessing it was a Chrysler Imperial.)) I liked The Lady in the Lake very much, in fact, it might be my favourite Marlowe story after The Big Sleep. I also liked some of the more meta-fiction aspects to the novel which I definitely missed the first time. When you read hundreds of noir novels sometimes you get a bit jaded. Raymond Chandler obviously felt the same. Take this particular example from chapter 31:

"I never liked this scene," I said. "Detective confronts murderer. Murderer produces gun, points same at detective. Murderer tells detective the whole sad story with the idea of shooting him at the end of it...Only murderer never does. Something always happens to prevent it. The gods don't like this scene either. They always manage to spoil it."   

The only thing I thought was absent from the novel was a development of the Arthurian promise of the title. Maybe its in there but if so I missed it. "The Big Sleep" gets better the more you think about it, but once we see that there is an actual lady in an actual lake, "The Lady in the Lake" comes across as a bit hasty, even if it was based on a story of the same name.  
Incidentally I'm still waiting for the Colin Bateman novels "The Big Sheep," "The Long Good Fry-Up," and that cross-over into classic 70's TV sitcom territory "The Brady in the Lake."