Pick-up on Noon Street

By Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler is widely regarded as the best writer of hard-boiled thrillers, and probably rightly so. I don’t care much about the genre, so I don’t own many Chandlers. Pick-up on Noon Street contains four stories from The Simple Art of Murder, and most of them were interesting enough to finish them, especially when read with a writer’s eye.

I am still working on the novel that’s provisionally called ‘Droi’ (no, I’m not much good at titles), even though work on Krita and the current bout of pneumonia rather slows me down, and reading Chandler is a good way to pick up techniques.

It is not that I consider him a good stylist; rather an obvious one. When you get a long, run-on sentence or paragraph in the middle of a story that is mostly composed of short, bitten-off sentences, the story starts to rush, and Chandler uses that device almost painfully blatantly more than once.

Likewise, short, to-the-point introductions to characters are used when most effective; other characters are hardly introduced at all. And in some cases, as with the comic hotel detective in the last story, one wonders whether that character wasn’t just a particular writer’s darling of Chandler’s, which ought to have been excised.

In this way, reading Chandler is a lot like a writer’s education — and good fun while one is at it.