RARA-AVIS: Blackmailers Don't Shoot

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 11 Mar 2004

I've read that Chandler's style evolved as he exited the pulp arena and began writing novels, and comparing
"Blackmailers Don't Shoot" to his novels I've read, I'd have to agree. Chandler's moody atmosphere and lyrical composition distanced his work from the pulp standard, but his first story, "Blackmailers," is rough around the edges. The dialogue is poor and the writing leans heavily toward cliche. Guns talk and characters squeeze lead and laugh mirthlessly. It almost has a Robert Leslie Bellem (author of the outrageous Dan Turner, Hollywood detective series) feel to it. At his best, Chandler's flair for simile could prove awkward, but in "Blackmailers" they are less developed and less effective than in his later works: "His eyes were as dead as stale oysters."

The story doesn't approach the quality of his best work, but it still contains themes and elements that continue through his oeuvre. Descriptions of Los Angeles reinforce the story's atmosphere. A rich and beautiful woman invokes death and destruction, and there's a crooked cop who the story is not totally unsympathetic to. There's a big-time gentleman criminal who's debonair and dangerous. There's the homosexual theme that would have delighted Leslie Fiedler. Although the story is written in third person, it's strongly centered on the protagonist.

The plot involves a Chicago private eye named Mallory investigating blackmailers attempting to extort money from an actress. It starts out with Mallory wearing the same powder-blue suit that Marlowe wears in the beginning of THE BIG SLEEP. Mallory's description makes him appear more of a dandy than Marlowe. A lot of people get shot, and there's a special description for how each one collapses to the floor. It is the first thing I've read by Chandler without a female killer.


__________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Search - Find what you're looking for faster http://search.yahoo.com

# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 11 Mar 2004 EST