along with Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler set the conventions for what would become the whole American school of hardboiled detective fiction. a lot of what you might see in portrayed in film noir or parodied in more recent movies and television -- the lone private eye with the wisecracks, the smokes, the pistol, the special office bottle in his deep desk drawer -- owe their existence to the writings of Hammett and Chandler.
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maybe it's just me but there seems to be a general consensus that The Long Goodbye is Chandler's best detective novel. the cynical and unflappable Phillip Marlowe has come a long way in helping the underdog and hes matured since his first appearance in The Big Sleep. hes a lot more wearier and nostalgic and his own personal code keeps the flame burning for him as a gumshoe -- its definitely not the money. though hes still well-read, he can still play a wicked game of chess and he can still hold his own when it comes down to a fistfight.
in The Long Goodbye, Marlowe is hired by a beautiful woman to keep tabs on her abusive writer husband and find out exactly what role his friend mightve played in the murder of the daughter of an influential newspaper mogul. obviously the plot gets a lot more complicated than that, in typical Chandler mystery style, but to give away any more would be doing an injustice to the book.
what i really get a kick outta reading Chandler are his characters -- the shady street racketeers, thuggish police chiefs, Marlowe himself -- and his rich descriptions and eye for detail describing 1940's Los Angeles. theres a certain poetic quality to his writing, with the slang and the metaphors and the similes Marlowe's always slinging out.
heres an example, as Phillip Marlowe looks out into the night over Los Angeles: "far off the banshee wail of police or fire sirens rose and fell, never for very long completely silent. twenty-four hours a day somebody is running, somebody else is trying to catch him. out there in the night of a thousand crimes people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy car tires. people were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped and murdered. people were hungry, sick, bored, desperate with loneliness or remore or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. a city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness."
if that happens to be your cup of tea you can also check out some of other Chandler's works, just several off the top of my head: The Big Sleep; Farewell, My Lovely; The High Window; The Lady in the Lake. and you can check out the original hardboiled author himself, Dashiell Hammett and his most well-known book The Maltese Falcon.