Goldfish by Raymond Chandler
Short Story in "Trouble is My Business"
Pocket Book 2823
"Goldfish" is one of of my favorite Chandler short stories. Originally published in Black Mask in 1936, it featured a P.I. named Carmady. Almost all of Raymond Chandler's short stories were written before he created Marlowe, but these early P.I. characters are essentially the same L.A. dick -Philip Marlowe. You'll likely find Philip Marlowe as the P.I. (not Carmady) in most collections containing this story. That is the case in the four stories in this edition of "Trouble is My Business." (1957)
"I wasn't doing any work that day, just catching up on my foot-dangling." (opening line in "Goldfish")
In "Goldfish," Marlowe gets a tip on the location of the "Leander pearls." A guy by the name of Wally Sype heisted the gems 19 years earlier and he did his time without telling anyone where he stashed them. Sype was paroled and his location is unknown. The insurance company still has a $25,000 reward out on the pearls, so Marlowe looks into it. He finds Sype's old Leavenworth cellmate dead, after being tortured with a hot iron. And then Marlowe ends up meeting the two who performed the sadistic act. One is a shyster lawyer, but the one to watch out for is the cold-blood dame that goes by the name of Carol Donovan. They are also on the trail of the pearls, and after slapping their guns and giving Marlowe a "mickey," the two set out thinking they have the upper hand. But Marlowe unknowingly has the key and that is the word "goldfish."
Creative as hell, with all the wonderful Chandler descriptive elements in it. Murder, complex characters, sarcastic tough guy spilling out memorable dialogue, and a fine ending with Sype's wife trying to pull a fast one on the famous detective. A bonus is you get to meet the heartless Carol Donovan, a memorable character in the story. Hey, you can only keep reading Chandler's brilliant novels for so long. Hit the short stories once in a while, you will be rewarded.
"Red Wind" is also in this paperback. Besides having that marvelously written opening paragraph, (one of the best in any mystery short story) - the ending with Marlowe at the edge of the ocean is one of Chandler's most compassionate and sentimental. And the reference of the hot wind throughout this blackmail/murder story, has its own effect on each character and sets the mood throughout the story. The exchanges between Marlowe and the cop named Copernik are outstanding, with wiseass Marlowe playing the cop for a sucker. "Red Wind" was first published in Dime Detective Magazine in 1938, originally the P.I. was called John Dalmas. A great hardboiled read, one of Chandler's best.
The four "Marlowe" stories in this paperback:
"Trouble is My Business"
These four stories were published by Houghton Mifflin earlier in "The Simple Art of Murder,"(1950) which contained a total of 12 short works. A few years later, Pocket Books put together three paperbacks containing four short stories each from "The Simple Art of Murder." All are Marlowe stories and copies can still be found easily. I enjoy them all, how can you not.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Goldfish by Raymond Chandler