Summertime brings to mind three things: high temperatures, Hollywood-style sexual tension, and good, old-fashioned mystery. The High Window by Raymond Chandler delivers it all on a silver ash tray — with colorful characters, a hard-boiled detective, clandestine crime, and witticisms to delight your debonair heart. It’s a classic murder mystery novel, and I can’t believe I only now found out about Chandler considering how much he has shaped the hard-boiled detective fiction genre.
The High Window was published in 1942 as Chandler’s third novel featuring Philip Marlowe, a fictional character whose name is practically synonymous with “private detective.” The first was The Big Sleep, which has been listed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Best Novels.
Chandler’s voice is part crude, part forceful, and 100% honest. All in all, it makes for an entertaining read, with a swift-moving plot and a highly layered protagonist. But, what I enjoyed the most about reading this book was how Chandler used real place-names in his novel. Set in 1940s Los Angeles, I was pleasantly surprised to see such familiar locations as Pasadena, Sunset, and Sherman Oaks. I learned quite a bit about LA and its history as I read, which was a pretty sweet bonus.
As the epitome of hard-boiled detective fiction novels, The High Window (or any of Raymond Chandler’s novels, really) is the perfect book to kickstart your summer reading plans.
This book recommendation is included as part of our #SummerReadingChallenge.