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Trouble Is My Business (Anglais) Broché – 12 août 1988

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Anna Halsey was about two hundred and forty pounds of middle-aged putty-faced woman in a black tailor-made suit. Her eyes were shiny black shoe buttons, her cheeks were as soft as suet and about the same color. She was sitting behind a black glass desk that looked like Napoleon's tomb and she was smoking a cigarette in a black holder that was not quite as long as a rolled umbrella. She said: "I need a man."

I watched her shake ash from the cigarette to the shiny top of the desk where flakes of it curled and crawled in the draft from an open window.

"I need a man good-looking enough to pick up a dame who has a sense of class, but he's got to be tough enough to swap punches with a power shovel. I need a guy who can act like a bar lizard and backchat like Fred Allen, only better, and get hit on the head with a beer truck and think some cutie in the leg-line topped him with a breadstick."

"It's a cinch," I said. "You need the New York Yankees, Robert Donat, and the Yacht Club Boys."

"You might do," Anna said, "cleaned up a little. Twenty bucks a day and ex's. I haven't brokered a job in years, but this one is out of my line. I'm in the smooth-angles of the detecting business and I make money without getting my can knocked off. Let's see how Gladys likes you."

She reversed the cigarette holder and tipped a key on a large black-and-chromium annunciator box. "Come in and empty Anna's ash tray, honey.";

We waited.

The door opened and a tall blonde dressed better than the Duchess of Windsor strolled in.

She swayed elegantly across the room, emptied Anna's ash tray, patted her fat cheek, gave me a smooth rippling glance and went out again.

"I think she blushed," Anna said when the door closed. "I guess you still have It."

"She blushed--and I have a dinner date with Darryl Zanuck," I said. "Quit horsing around. What's the story?"

"It's to smear a girl. A redheaded number with bedroom eyes. She's shill for a gambler and she's got her hooks into a rich man's pup."

"What do I do to her?"

Anna sighed. "It's kind of a mean job, Philip, I guess. If she's got a record of any sort, you dig it up and toss it in her face. If she hasn't, which is more likely as she comes from good people, it's kind of up to you. You get an idea once in a while, don't you?"

"I can't remember the last one I had. What gambler and what rich man?"

"Marty Estel."

I started to get up from my chair, then remembered that business had been bad for a month and that I needed the money.

I sat down again.

"You might get into trouble, of course," Anna said. "I never heard of Marty bumping anybody off in the public square at high noon, but he don't play with cigar coupons."

"Trouble is my business," I said. "Twenty-five a day and guarantee of two-fifty, if I pull the job."

"I gotta make a little something for myself," Anna whined.

"O.K. There's plenty of coolie labor around town. Nice to have seen you looking so well. So long, Anna."

I stood up this time. My life wasn't worth much, but it was worth that much. Marty Estel was supposed to be pretty tough people, with the right helpers and the right protection behind him. His place was out in West Hollywood, on the Strip. He wouldn't pull anything crude, but if he pulled at all, something would pop.

"Sit down, it's a deal," Anna sneered. "I'm a poor old broken-down woman trying to run a high-class detective agency on nothing but fat and bad health, so take my last nickel and laugh at me."

"Who's the girl?" I had sat down again.

"Her name is Harriet Huntress--a swell name for the part too. She lives in the El Milano, nineteen-hundred block on North Sycamore, very high-class. Father went broke back in thirty-one and jumped out of his office window. Mother dead. Kid sister in boarding school back in Connecticut. That might make an angle."

"Who dug up all this?"

"The client got a bunch of photostats of notes the pup had given to Marty. Fifty grand worth. The pup--he's an adopted son to the old man--denied the notes, as kids will. So the client had the photostats experted by a guy named Arbogast, who pretends to be good at that sort of thing. He said O.K. and dug around a bit, but he's too fat to do legwork, like me, and he's off the case now."

"But I could talk to him?"

"I don't know why not." Anna nodded several of her chins.

"This client--does he have a name?"

"Son, you have a treat coming. You can meet him in person--right now."

She tipped the key of her call box again. "Have Mr. Jeeter come in, honey."

"That Gladys," I said, "does she have a steady?"

"You lay off Gladys!" Anna almost screamed at me. "She's worth eighteen grand a year in divorce business to me. Any guy that lays a finger on her, Philip Marlowe, is practically cremated."

"She's got to fall some day," I said. "Why couldn't I catch her?"

The opening door stopped that.

I hadn't seen him in the paneled reception room, so he must have been waiting in a private office. He hadn't enjoyed it. He came in quickly, shut the door quickly, and yanked a thin octagonal platinum watch from his vest and glared at it. He was a tall white-blond type in pin-striped flannel of youthful cut. There was a small pink rosebud in his lapel. He had a keen frozen face, a little pouchy under the eyes, a little thick in the lips. He carried an ebony cane with a silver knob, wore spats and looked a smart sixty, but I gave him close to ten years more. I didn't like him.

"Twenty-six minutes, Miss Halsey," he said icily. "My time happens to be valuable. By regarding it as valuable I have managed to make a great deal of money."

"Well, we're trying to save you some of the money," Anna drawled. She didn't like him either. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Mr. Jeeter, but you wanted to see the operative I selected and I had to send for him."

"He doesn't look the type to me," Mr. Jeeter said, giving me a nasty glance. I think more of a gentleman--"

"You're not the Jeeter of Tobacco Road, are you?" I asked him.

He came slowly towards me and half lifted the stick. His icy eyes tore at me like claws. "So you insult me," he said. "Me--a man in my position."

"Now wait a minute," Anna began.

"Wait a minute nothing," I said. "This party said I was not a gentleman. Maybe that's O.K. for a man in his position, whatever it is--but a man in my position doesn't take a dirty crack from anybody. He can't afford to. Unless, of course, it wasn't intended."

Mr. Jeeter stiffened and glared at me. He took his watch out again and looked at it. "Twenty-eight minutes," he said. "I apologize, young man. I had no desire to be rude."

"That's swell," I said. "I knew you weren't the Jeeter in Tobacco Road all along."

That almost started him again, but he let it go. He wasn't sure how I meant it.

"A question or two while we are together," I said. "Are you willing to give this Huntress girl a little money--for expenses?"

"Not one cent," he barked. "Why should I?"

"It's got to be a sort of custom. Suppose she married him. What would he have?"

"At the moment a thousand dollars a month from a trust fund established by his mother, my late wife." He dipped his head. "When he is twenty-eight years old, far too much money."

"You can't blame the girl for trying," I said. "Not these days. How about Marty Estel? Any settlement there?"

He crumpled his gray gloves with a purple-veined hand. "The debt is uncollectible. It is a gambling debt."

Anna sighed wearily and flicked ash around on her desk.

"Sure," I said. "But gamblers can't afford to let people welsh on them. After all, if your son had won, Marty would have paid him."

"I'm not interested in that," the tall thin man said coldly.

"Yeah, but think of Marty sitting there with fifty grand in notes. Not worth a nickel. How will he sleep nights?"

Mr. Jeeter looked thoughtful. "You mean there is danger of violence?" he suggested, almost suavely.

"That's hard to say. He runs an exclusive place, gets a good movie crowd. He has his own reputation to think of. But he's in a racket and he knows people. Things can happen--a long way off from where Marty is. And Marty is no bathmat. He gets up and walks."

Mr. Jeeter looked at his watch again and it annoyed him. He slammed it back into his vest. "All that is your affair," he snapped. "The district attorney is a personal friend of mine. If this matter seems to be beyond your powers--"

"Yeah," I told him. "But you came slumming down our street just the same. Even if the D.A. is in your vest pocket--along with that watch."

He put his hat on, drew on one glove, tapped the edge of his shoe with his stick, walked to the door and opened it.

"I ask results and I pay for them," he said coldly. "I pay promptly. I even pay generously sometimes, although I am not considered a generous man. I think we all understand one another."

He almost winked then and went on out. The door closed softly against the cushion of air in the door-closer. I looked at Anna and grinned.

"Sweet, isn't he?"; she said. "I'd like eight of him for my cocktail set."

I gouged twenty dollars out of her--for expenses.


The Arbogast I wanted was John D. Arbogast and he had an office on Sunset near Ivar. I called him up from a phone booth. The voice that answered was fat. It wheezed softly, like the voice of a man who had just won a pie-eating contest.

"Mr. John D. Arbogast?"


"This is Philip Marlowe, a private detective working on a case you did some experting on. Party named Jeeter."


";Can I come up and talk to you about it--after I eat lunch?"

"Yeah." He hung up. I decided he was not a talkative man.

I had lunch and drove out there. It was east of Ivar, an old two-story building faced with brick which had been painted recently. The street floor was stores and a restaurant. The building entrance was the foot of a wide straight stairway to the second floor. On the directory at the bottom I read: John D. Arbogast, Suite 212. I went up the stairs and found myself in a wide straight hall that ran parallel with the street. A man in a smock was standing in an open doorway down to my right. He wore a round mirror strapped to his forehead and pushed back, and his face had a puzzled expression. He went back to his office and shut the door.

I went the other way, about half the distance along the hall. A door on the side away from Sunset was lettered: JOHN D. ARBOGAST, EXAMINER OF QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS. PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR. ENTER. The door opened without resistance onto a small windowless anteroom with a couple of easy chairs, some magazines, two chromium smoking stands. There were two floor lamps and a ceiling fixture, all lighted. A door on the other side of the cheap but thick new rug was lettered: JOHN D. ARBOGAST, EXAMINER OF QUESTIONED DOCUMENTS. PRIVATE.

A buzzer had rung when I opened the outer door and gone on ringing until it closed. Nothing happened. Nobody was in the waiting room. The inner door didn't open. I went over and listened at the panel-no sound of conversation inside. I knocked. That didn't buy me anything either. I tried the knob. It turned, so I opened the door and went in.

This room had two north windows, both curtained at the sides and both shut tight. There was dust on the sills. There was a desk, two filing cases, a carpet which was just a carpet, and walls which were just walls. To the left another door with a glass panel was lettered: JOHN D. ARBOGAST. LABORATORY, PRIVATE.

I had an idea I might be able to remember the name.

The room in which I stood was small. It seemed almost too small even for the pudgy hand that rested on the edge of the desk, motionless, holding a fat pencil like a carpenter's pencil. The hand had a wrist, hairless as a plate. A buttoned shirt cuff, not too clean, came down out of a coat sleeve. The rest of the sleeve dropped over the far edge of the desk out of sight. The desk was less than six feet long, so he couldn't have been a very tall man. The hand and the ends of the sleeves were all I saw of him from where I stood. I went quietly back through the anteroom and fixed its door so that it couldn't be opened from the outside and put out the three lights and went back to the private office. I went around an end of the desk.

He was fat all right, enormously fat, fatter by far than Anna Halsey. His face, what I could see of it, looked about the size of a basket ball. It had a pleasant pinkness, even now. He was kneeling on the floor. He had his large head against the sharp inner corner of the kneehole of the desk, and his left hand was flat on the floor with a piece of yellow paper under it. The fingers were outspread as much as such fat fingers could be, and the yellow paper showed between. He looked as if he were pushing hard on the floor, but he wasn't really. What was holding him up was his own fat. His body was folded down against his enormous thighs, and the thickness and fatness of them held him that way, kneeling, poised solid. It would have taken a couple of good blocking backs to knock him over. That wasn't a very nice idea at the moment, but I had it just the same. I took time out and wiped the back of my neck, although it was not a warm day.

Revue de presse

"Raymond Chandler is a master." --The New York Times

“[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.” --The New Yorker

“Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious.” --Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review

“Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye.” --Los Angeles Times

“Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner. . . . An original. . . . A great artist.” —The Boston Book Review

“Raymond Chandler was one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century. . . . Age does not wither Chandler’s prose. . . . He wrote like an angel.” --Literary Review

“[T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision.” --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” —Ross Macdonald

“Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude.” --Erle Stanley Gardner

“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.” --Paul Auster

“[Chandler]’s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that’s like ours, but isn’t. ” --Carolyn See

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Format: Broché Achat vérifié
These four short stories were written before the now famous novels and, unfortunately before Chandler had completely mastered his craft. There are some interesting plot twists but they lack the strong characters that helped make him the high bar for every mystery writer who followed. Even Marlowe lacks the depth and interest that we find in later pieces and is pretty much the standard gumshoe that we find in pulp magazines of the epoque.
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Avec Hammett, Chandler, l'autre grand fondateur du hard-boiled. Trouble is my business se lit bien en anglais, le slang des années 50 de L.A. est au rendez-vous ("jerk", "slug", "copper",...)et on y prend plaisir. Marlowe est assurément l'ancêtre des Milo Milodragovitch, Dimitri Karras et Fritz Brown. Il boit. Crumley, Ellroy et Pelecanos y ajouteront la drogue et livreront plus de substance en travaillant davantage les affres et angoisses de leurs personnages. Dans Trouble is my business, l'ambiance est telle qu'on peut l'imaginer : des flingues, des escrocs, des flics, un bureau de détective qu'on arrive bien à visualiser, des femmes qui jouent souvent double-jeu. On regrettera l'aspect un peu "expédié" toutefois des trois premières nouvelles. On peine à en suivre totalement le cheminement mais on s'accroche facilement pour savourer l'ambiance qui les entoure. Un très bon point en revanche pour l'excellent "Red Wind", la dernière nouvelle du livre et selon moi la meilleure par sa construction. Quoiqu'il en soit, Marlowe est bien l'archétype du P.I qui ressurgira ensuite sous de multiples formes.
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Amazon.com: HASH(0x9eb3ef9c) étoiles sur 5 51 commentaires
92 internautes sur 93 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9ee41c78) étoiles sur 5 Amazon user be cautioned 18 septembre 1997
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
CAUTION: The edition shipped by Amazon is not the
642-page, twelve-story edition of this title advertised here and not the one which the online review discusses. For some bizarre reason, and sometime between 1988 and now, Vintage has edited out eight of the most important stories and left the reader with only four, but kept the same title: Trouble is My Business. An outrage, certainly. Don't be fooled by the bibliographic information given by Amazon: the book you receive will have only 214 pages and contain only four stories!
70 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9eba1cfc) étoiles sur 5 Where are the first 8 stories? 11 octobre 2001
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I bought a dog-eared copy of this collection ("Trouble is My Business") at a book sale for $1.50 a year ago. The copy I have is thick with 12 stories. I bought this copy of "Trouble is my Business" to have a better copy, but was disappointed to discover that it had been whittled down to only the final four Marlowe stories. My question is, what the hell happened to the first 8 and why is Amazon.com still describing this as a collection of 12 when there are merely four? That's not jake, fellas.
28 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9eaf2024) étoiles sur 5 The best of Raymond Chandler 21 mars 1998
Par burglar - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
There are those who feel that The Big Sleep or Farewell My Lovely are Chandler's best work, but I disagree. As fine as they are, they were, after all, taken from his previously published short stories. Chandler was not a novelist, really. He was writer of scenes. He could spend paragraphs describing a room, or a person, or an open field, for that matter, and leave you begging for more. These four stories are the best he had to offer. Red Wind gets the most attention, usually, thanks to the classic opening paragraph, but my personal favorite is Goldfish. The character of Carol Donovan is the most exquisitely drawn hard-boiled female since Brigit O'Shaughnessy, and the finale is as good as the finale of Shane.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9f15351c) étoiles sur 5 Deja Vu For Chandler Fans, Excellent for All 28 novembre 2005
Par J.E.Robinson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
Chandler fans reading this book for the first time will have many "deja vu" moments. The book contains four of the twenty short stories written by Chandler in the 1930s that were warm ups for the seven novels that followed. Chandler wrote detective mystery stories, and became famous for seven novels and a number of Hollywood screen plays, mostly about crime and private detectives in the "film noir" genre of Hollywood black and white films, or what is called LA "pulp fiction". Far from being an ordinary writer of cheap crime stories, Chandler became one of America's best writers from the mid 20th century.

Chandler was a Los Angeles accountant turned writer and he developed his own careful writing style. He started by first analysing other works, such as articles in the Black Mask mystery magazine. He used those stories plus local newspaper crime articles for plot ideas. He would set some of his stories in the fictional ocean side town of Bay City which is really Santa Monica, or set his stories in west Los Angeles, or other parts of southern California. He lived in Santa Monica after being fired from his oil executive job for drinking in the 1930s. He detested the place and moved into LA proper when he became wealthy as a screenplay writer in the early 1940s while working at Paramount. In the late 1940s he moved to La Jolla, just north of San Diego. Chandler started with short fiction pieces in the 1930s and then graduated to novels in 1938-39. From the early novels he was hired to write screen plays and eventually he wrote or created 59 works including stories, screenplays, and novels. His novels with the private Detective Phillip Marlowe brought him fame including the Bogart-Bacall movie The Big Sleep.

This book contains four short stories each about 50 to 60 pages long from the 1930s. These are a warm ups to his seven novels and screenplays that followed. There are plot elements and prose that are almost a duplicate of some of the later novels. For example, the second story Finger Man has scenes and references that are almost directly inserted into The Big Sleep (1939) and Farwewell, My Lovely (1940). For Chandler lovers like myself, it is like eating chocolates to go back and be able to read these early works. Also Chandler has a four page introduction where he makes a number of comments on his writing style and philosophy at the front of the book. Trouble is my Business is the first of the four short stories.

His career did not take off until after he had written three or four novels and started to do screenplays in the mid-1940s. He was lucky in that he was able to write the screenplays and make a lot of money. He became famous for the screenplays, but simultaneously, he rose to further fame by the growth in popularity of paperback books in the 1940s. As a result, millions of his Philip Marlowe detective novels were sold and after just a few years he had moved from a run down flat in Santa Monica to a large house with an ocean view beside the Kellog family in La Jolla. He is now recognised as one of America's best writers from the 1930s through 1940s era. If you get a chance, have a look at the movie Double Indemnity, where Chandler co-wrote the screenplay with Billy Wilder at Paramount - his first attempt at this type of writing - and he and Wilder were nominated for an Oscar but they did not win. I think that is an excellent film, and it is generally regarded as one of the best films of the period.

His technique was to pull old stories apart, then change them, then re-write them as short stories, and then take that work and extend it, modify it again a second or third time or even more, and finally put together complete novels. He would take six months to write a short story - as found in the present collection, while some other mystery writers wrote a complete novel in a week - by dictation. He was not big on plots, but more of a craftsman on the individual scenes and the prose, especially descriptions of the people. He said that it took him two years to write a short description of a person getting up from a table and walking out of a room. So there is a high level of refinement and a certain style that he was able to develop as a result of this writing process. This technique is not new. Shakespeare himself used this technique in virtually every play, taking old myths, stories, and historical accounts such as King Lear. He would break them apart, change them, and make new works with new twists, turns, and addnew characters; his last play The Tempest is his thought to be his only completely original play. Chandler used to joke that if Shakespeare was alive, he would be a Hollywood writer. Chandler is a little more obvious in that some of the prose in the seven novels are almost lifted from the early works - in part because Chandler wrote only one half page increments at a time, and kept those half page writings on file to use as source materials for later works. His aim was to make each segment as complate as possible, but some of his early short stories are similar to and have almost identical names to the full novels.

In any case, this is a book that is not to be missed by Chandler fans and it is simply excellent for anyone else.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9eaef2dc) étoiles sur 5 Count Jason Ennis: attention 4 juillet 2002
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Count Jason Ennis: You can find the rest of the stories from "Trouble is My Business" in the Chandler title "The Simple Art of Murder." That's another great collection of the master's work. Now that's a collection worthy of a bishop kicking a hole through a stained-glass window!" -- Dashiell Millar
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