Re your question below:
"This reminds me. I've long wondered why Chandler's first
story, Blackmailers Never Shoot, wasn't included in Simple
Art of Murder. Do you happen to know why?"
"Blackmailers Don't Shoot," Chandler's first story, and the
first of two to feature a Chicago PI transplanted to LA named
Mallory, wasn't included in TSAM because, quite simply,
Chandler didn't think much of it. In a letter to a friend
years later, he described it as "pure pastiche," by which he
meant it was derivative with little of his own voice.
He didn't think too much higher of the sequel,
"Smart-Aleck Kill," either. But he thought it enough of an improvement that he did include it in the collection, though with the character's name changed from Mallory to John Dalmas (causing untold confusion to later scholars). Besides, even if it wasn't THAT much of an improvement, the beginning was an illustration of a point he made about pulp fiction in the collection's intoduction, "When in doubt, have a man with a gun come through the front door."
In that same letter, he said that "Finger Man," his third
story, and the first to feature the character who would
eventually come to be named "Philip Marlowe," was the first
in which he began to find his own unique style.
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