Re: RARA-AVIS: One Fish, Two Fish

Date: 05 May 2003

Hi Mike,

Yes, Hammett's "Thin Man" is terrific! I also highly recommend "The Lady in the Lake" by Chandler, since you've not given it a look. His other, shorter novels ("The Little Sister" and "the High Window" come to mind) are good, but not on a level commensurate with that of "The Lady in the Lake."

Soeaking of Hammett, I just picked up a collection of his short stories entitled either "Nightmare Town" or "Murder Town", can't recal which, seeing as I'm at work and the book's at home. Once I've cracked it, I'll give it a review here. I'm about 2/3 through "The Big Heat," btw. Terrific read.

All the Best,

> I've been working my way through Herbert Ruhm's HARDBOILED DETECTIVE, a
> collection of Black Mask stories. Chandler's "Goldfish" (1936) was
> excellent. The only other things I've read by him are THE BIG SLEEP and THE
> LONG GOODBYE and I thought this story was as good as the novels. One thing
> that surprised me was that, although the two novels seem to revel in bumping
> elbows with the upper crust, the short story's setting was decidedly
> low-rent, with a matching cast of sleazy characters. I liked it. Chandler
> wasn't shy about laying on the sleaze, either. The protagonist is Carmady,
> who I understand is the prototype for Marlowe. The story involves the
> recovery of some pearls stolen many years earlier.
> Lester Dent's "Angelfish" (1936) was good, too. It's set in the Florida
> Keys. A woman asks Sail to help her protect some pictures from being
> stolen. A hurricane gets closer and closer as the story progresses. The
> change of scenery from the typical mean streets to dangerous waters was
> welcome. This is the first thing I've read by Dent. I understand he wrote
> a bunch of the Doc Savage series.
> Erle Stanley Gardner's "Legman" (1938) was good, but I think Gardner is
> something of an acquired taste which I'm just not warming up to. He's
> obviously a skilled writer. From this story and his first Perry Mason novel
> THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS I gather that he pretty much had his own style
> and resisted some of the corny excesses that characterizes some pulp
> writers, like Carroll John Daly. I've got a late 30s Perry Mason novel THE
> CASE OF THE PERJURED PARROT sitting on the shelf waiting on me. I think
> this might be one that Jim Doherty said had a good courtroom scene. I'll
> have to read it in full sunlight. The pages are a nasty yellow-brown color.
> I also liked Norbert Davis's "Kansas City Flash" (1933). The story is told
> in third person and involves professional troubleshooter Mark Hull searching
> for a kidnapped actress. This is back when Hollywood was still
> Hollywoodland. I think this is the earliest hardboiled I've read that has a
> Hollywood slant to it. It precedes McCoy's THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?
> by a couple years.
> I could take Nebel's "Take It And Like It" (1934), but I didn't like it.
> The humor in the dialogue has not aged gracefully. The story is told third
> person and alternates between the cops and a newspaper reporter suspected of
> murder. Every time I read older hardboiled with supposedly witty repartee
> in it, I wonder about how it relates to Hammett's THIN MAN, which I haven't
> read but obviously need to.
> miker
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