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Killer in the Rain Broché – 1969
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The reason? These were the eight stories that Chandler cannibalized to form the substance and sub-plots of:
The Black Sleep [taken from "The Curtain" and "Killer In The Rain"],
Farewell My Lovely [using "The Man Who Liked Dogs", "Try The Girl" and "Mandarin's Jade"], and
The Lady In The Lake [assembled with "Bay City Blues", "Lady In The Lake", and "No Crime In The Mountains"],
the first, second and fourth, respectively, of his seven novels featuring the archetypal noir detective Philip Marlowe. (The High Window, The Little Sister and its follow-up The Long Goodbye were all wholly originated as novels, while Playback was rewritten from an unused treatment that did not originally have Marlowe as a character)
Several years after Chandler's death in 1959, Ballantine Books, which in the '60s and '70s had the licensing rights to Chandler's work, went ahead and published these as a group in the book we have here, Killer In The Rain.
Unfortunately, no publisher since has put these eight stories out again - neither Vintage, which publishes all seven novels as well as the contents of the three Ballantine collections of pre-novel short stories (The Simple Art Of Murder, Pick-Up On Noon Street, and Trouble Is My Business); even the two volume collected works published in handsome hardcover form by Library Of America, virtually complete in every other aspect, omits these stories, which leads one to wonder if the Chandler estate - such as it is - has reinstated Chandler's ban on the public having access to these stories - until such time as they truly become public domain.
With the trend towards longer copyright life -designed soley to keep uncreative marketing/publishing people making an easy living off work which, after the creator's death, should belong to the freely accesible world culture domain, instead of putting more effort into marketing the works of the living creators who most deserve the remuneration whilst still alive - many of us may not actually still be here when they can be published by anyone without restriction. So grab a copy of these original masterpieces while there are dealers still with copies!~ MannyLunch
"Killer in the Rain" tells about the spoiled daughter of a newly rich oil millionaire. Carmen has been paying off a "rare book" dealer who has her nude photos. The interpersonal conflict results in dead bodies. Chandler studied the classics. This story could be compared to some opera or a Shakespearean tragedy. ["The Big Sleep" is an expanded version of this story.]
"The Man Who Liked Dogs" has investigator Carmady searching for a missing dog. The young woman who owned him left home and is also missing. There is plenty of action and dead bodies to thrill the readers. ["Farewell, My Lovely" used parts of this story.]
"The Curtain" begins when an old friend tells Carmady what he knows about the missing Dud O'Mara. Soon after this old friend leaves there is a flurry of shots. Now Carmady has the news that killed his pal. He is threatened by the two who killed his pal, but turns the tables. Does the apple fall far from the tree? [This story was part of "The Big Sleep".] The shooting of Larry Batzel seems implausible except for drama.
"Try the Girl" tells of a huge man who was just released from prison and is looking for his old girlfriend. Carmady tries to find Beulah the singer. The ending to this story differs from "Farewell, My Lovely". [If Beulah was so in love why didn't she keep in touch?]
"Mandarin's Jade"has John Dalmas working for a man who will buy back a very expensive jade necklace. But the deal doesn't work as planned, Dalmas is sapped and Lindley Paul is murdered. Dalmas follows a lead, and there is another dead body. Next he meets the woman who lost the necklace, and a view into the lives of the rich and famous. A visit to a cheap bar produces more dead bodies. There is a shocking surprise ending to this story. [Castellamare was where Thelma Todd lived and died.]
"Bay City Blues" starts with the carbon monoxide poisoning of a blonde wife of a doctor to the stars. Harry Matson, the watchman who found the body was run out of town, and he is scared. Matson contacts Johnny Dalmas. There is another dead body and threats to Dalmas. There is a shocking surprise at the end when the murders are solved.
"The Lady in the Lake" begins with a missing person case. The husband mentions the name of a man. Dalmas soon finds him dead, freshly killed. When Dalmas visits the lake cabin where Julia Watson was staying he finds a lady in the lake, a few days old. Dalmas continues his investigation and uncovers the secrets behind the murders, and the missing wife.
"No Crime in the Mountains" starts when John Evans receives a letter hiring him on a confidential matter. But Fred Lacey can tell no tales. More dead bodies turn up. There is a question about $500 in a shoe. Could foreign agents be active in a resort area? [The ending seems pretty weak and implausible.]
"Killer In The Rain" presents them, along with an excellent foreword by Phillip Durham in which he discusses Chandler's ability to heighten a description, deepen a mood, to prolong the tension in a situation through these reworkings; or, as Durham puts it, "to see, to sense, and to say." If you want to read these tales for their "story value," though, you're best served by skipping this Foreword until after you've read them.
The stories, true to the genre, are invariably violent, even brutal, particularly in their resolutions. ("The rule was," Chandler once wrote, "when in doubt, have someone come through the door with a gun in his hand.") Yet, even at this early stage in his career, as these stories illustrate, both Chandler's singular style and thematic sense were already largely in place.