Re: RARA-AVIS: "Simple Art..." stories

Bill Hagen (
Sat, 23 Jan 1999 21:56:45 -0600 (CST) Agree with Jeff that Chandler was still learning with "Smart-Aleck Kill."
But a thought struck me: Could the murder of the title be a back-handed
reference to the clever kills that Chandler disdains so much? In "The
Simple Art of Murder," he writes "The boys with their feet on the desks
know that the easiest murder case in the world to break is the one somebody
tried to get very cute with..." This is in reference to the fancy murders
of unrealistic mysteries. In the short story, putting a supposed suicide
gun in the wrong hand of the victim is either very dumb or very

As I remember, it is dumb, and the plot involves surviving long enough to
bring off the final shootout so justice can be done. leaving the remainder
for a spur-of-the-moment kill by an outraged wife. It's all quite
anti-mystery in spirit.

I too don't think the story is that strong, but Chandler's later essay may
lead us to suspect he's being a bit of a smart-aleck in the story.

Bill Hagen

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