“The wind was quiet out here and the valley moonlight was so sharp that the black shadows looked as if they had been cut with an engraving tool.”
Marlowe is tasked with tracking down and acquiring a stolen rare coin dubbed the Brasher Doubloon. Its owner, Mrs. Murdock, believes that her recently estranged daughter-in-law is the culprit. Unfortunately for Marlowe, there’s rarely ever an open and shut case and it isn’t long before he’s tied up in a web of deceit and murder.
I’m beginning to feel like there’s no such thing as a bad Marlowe story. While The High Window isn’t as quotable as The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, the case is just as interesting and the twists and turns in the story had me guessing right up to the end. It also doesn’t hurt that the majority of the supporting cast are deplorable, shameless characters and while their actions affect others in ways they may not have intended, when they’re shown the error of their ways, they couldn’t give a damn.
One of the things I really enjoyed was Marlowe’s insistence that several of the folks he comes across ooze noir stereotypes (the sexy femme fatale, the tough talking club owner complete with big bodyguard). It’s one thing to write these characters but it’s another thing to call attention to it; almost like breaking the fourth wall so to speak.
As many have pointed out, it’s not really because of the plot that you’re picking up a Chandler novel and I’m beginning to see why. Chandler writes Marlowe with such bravado, it’s like Marlowe thinks everyone is either constantly bluffing or just plain full of shit. He’s seemingly always a step ahead and he’s got more lines than a coke dealer.
The High Window has a satisfying conclusion and once again reinforces why Chandler is considered a master of the crime fiction genre. Onward to book four!