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Apex is celebrating Noir in the month of March and who better to cast a light on than hard-boiled mystery/crime fiction author/screenwriter Raymond Chandler?Raymond Chandler

During the period of post-World War I, Raymond Chandler offered the world detective stories with a distinct Noir prose that didn’t lack for excitement.  His unique way of layering metaphors provides the reader a chance to give the developing characters a “second look.”

“She sat in front of her princess dresser trying to paint the suitcases out from under her eyes.” – Raymond Chandler.

A heart as big as one of Mae West’s hips

“He had a heart as big as one of Mae West’s hips.” – Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler’s knack for turning somewhat glum Private Detective characters trying to catch a break, into everyday heroes captured the Noir spirit… the dark atmosphere, the vixen in distress and in the author’s own words, writing that is “tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder” is what the Noir, hard-boiled scene is all about.

Perhaps it was because of Chandler’s real life financial struggles during the Depression that he was able to capture the dark, Noir ambiance so well.  After losing his job, Chandler decided to make a living as a writer, discovering and studying Erle Stanley Gardner’s story formula for Perry Mason.

Regarding the type of main character that usually filled his Noir-themed works, Chandler wrote:

The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth

“He is the hero, he is everything… He must be a complete man, and a common man and yet an unusual man… He must be the best man in the world and a good enough man for any world… He is a relatively poor man or he would not be a detective at all… The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure… If there were enough like him, I think the world would be a very safe place to live in, and yet not too dull to be worth living in.”

Chandler himself was said to be quite a character.  When working on his screenplay, The Blue Dahlia (1946), he reportedly told the producer that he would complete the screenplay on one condition: that he (Chandler) was drunk at the time.  Chandler won an Academy Award for The Blue Dahlia; his second win after the screenplay, Double Indemnity (1944).

Why not join Apex in saluting Noir writers this month?  Pick up a detective story by Raymond Chandler or if you’re feeling a bit more modern, you might consider the following hard-boiled/Noir books:

Die a Little: A Novel by Megan E. Abbott

The Devil Knocks (Jake Strait) by Frank Kelly Rich

The Mike Hammer Collection Volume 1 by Mickey Spillane


Suggested novels by Raymond Chandler:

The Big Sleep (1939)

The Lady in the Lake (1943)

Trouble is My Business (1950)

From Modern Noir Master Tom Piccirilli
What Makes You Die by Tom PiccirilliScreenwriter Tommy Pic fell hard from Hollywood success and landed in a psychiatric ward, blacked out from booze and unmedicated manic depression. This is not the first time he’s come to in restraints, surrounded by friends and family who aren’t there.

This time, though, he also awakes to a message from his agent. The first act of his latest screenplay is their ticket back to the red carpets. If only Tommy could remember writing it. Trying to recapture the hallucinations that crafted his masterpiece, he chases his kidnapped childhood love, a witch from the magic shop downstairs, and the Komodo dragon he tried to cut out of his gut one Christmas Eve. The path to professional redemption may be more dangerous than the fall.

…This is what makes you die.

Order What Makes You Die by Tom Piccirilli

Krissie McMakin is a mystery writer as well as a history buff, particulary of the 1920′s – 1940′s. Her website is

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