Supplementary: The Mystery of Sherlock Holmes

If you read the comments on my recent post about ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ you may have seen I postulated that there is a paradox at the core of how we perceive Sherlock Holmes. On the one hand he is (and so far as I can make out, always has been) enormously popular; onContinue reading “Supplementary: The Mystery of Sherlock Holmes”

Book review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle 1892

Conan Doyle’s ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ contains 12 short stories, all originally published in the Strand magazine between June 1891 and July 1892. Some are better known than others, but all follow a fairly rigid format – a curious case is brought to Holmes’s attention by a flustered individual, often incognito, Watson’s support isContinue reading “Book review: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Arthur Conan Doyle 1892”

Book review: Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch

I had high hopes of ‘Rivers of London’. It was recommended to me by a couple of people whose judgment I trust. It was, broadly speaking, a fairly enjoyable read. But to be honest I was disappointed. it didn’t deliver on its initial promise. The plot was confusing, the central concept – the Magic PoliceContinue reading “Book review: Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch”

Book review: The Sign of the Four – Conan Doyle – 1890

Or, if you prefer, ‘The Sign of Four’, which is I think the better known version of this novel’s title. There is quite a significant difference between the former – meaning a sign which collectively represents four people – and the latter, which means simply 4. But as the sign itself plays no real partContinue reading “Book review: The Sign of the Four – Conan Doyle – 1890”

Comment: Spade and Marlowe

There’s no denying the huge influence Hammett had on Philip Chandler’s work. Chandler acknowledges this in “The Art of Murder” when he wrote: “Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with had-wrought duelling pistols, curareContinue reading “Comment: Spade and Marlowe”

Supplementary: The Maltese Falcon (2) – A Different Approach

In this alternative review of TMF I wanted to consider some parts of the text in more detail, rather than the broad sweep of the admittedly complex story line. Sam Spade, the central character and archetype of the hard-boiled American detective, is emotionally stunted. He shows no grief whatsoever at the death of his partner,Continue reading “Supplementary: The Maltese Falcon (2) – A Different Approach”

Book review: The Maltese Falcon – Dashiel Hammett (1929)

Read in Picador edition as part of “The Four Great Novels” Dashiel Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon” (1929) is a devastating critique of the American Dream. Often seen as a straightforward detective novel, a closer contextual reading reveals a damning indictment of American capitalism and society. At the heart of the novel is the quest forContinue reading “Book review: The Maltese Falcon – Dashiel Hammett (1929)”

Supplementary: The Black-eyed Blonde – Benjamin Black (2)

A lot of the reviews of this novel praised the plotting, one going so far as to say it was better than Chandler’s. My impression on a first read was that the plot of the Black-eyed Blonde was fairly linear and straightforward, and Marlowe is something of a passive observer of the narrative rather thanContinue reading “Supplementary: The Black-eyed Blonde – Benjamin Black (2)”

Book review: The Black-eyed Blonde by John Banville/Benjamin Black

This should so have been a great find. A new “Philip Marlowe” novel written by John Banville, writing as Benjamin Black. Raymond Chandler is one of my favourite novelist (looking back, I see I put him at number 5 in my top ten, which is there or thereabouts), and John Banville is a Booker prizeContinue reading “Book review: The Black-eyed Blonde by John Banville/Benjamin Black”

Book review: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, 1939

Chandler is one of my favourite writers – top 5 at least, and pretty much everything he published is consistently readable. As such I don’t really have a favourite novel of his but if forced to choose it would probably be “The Big Sleep”. This is Chandler at his sublime best. Philip Marlowe, his iconic hardContinue reading “Book review: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, 1939”