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"Revisiting Raymond Chandler's Short Stories" Topic

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The Shadow24 Nov 2017 8:38 p.m. PST

Every detective fiction and 1940's film fan knows who Philip Marlowe is, but not many people are aware that Chandler wrote several short stories for the pulp magazines Black Mask and Dime Detective before he wrote novels. A friend recently asked me which actor played the worst version of Philip Marlowe in the movies, and said that he thought that Dick Powell and Robert Montgomery were his picks. I barely remember Lady in the Lake with Montgomery. I only recall that the film was seen through his eyes and Montgomery was only seen in reflections in mirrors. So I took a pass on declaring him good or bad, but i very much enjoyed Murder My Sweet, with Dick Powell, which was actually based on the novel Farewell My Lovely, but the studio thought that Farewell My Lovely sounded too much like a musical, which was what Powell was known for.

Anyway, that got me thinking about Chandler's short stories. I read almost all of them back in the 1970's and wanted to reacquaint myself with them. So I started with the earliest short story that I own, which was "Smart-Aleck Kill", and I enjoyed it very much, because Chandler was a great writer and I didn't remember the story at all. So it was like reading it for the first time. I plan to reread all of them from the earliest to the latest and I thought that you might find this information interesting and useful.

Chandler would often cannibalize (his term) earlier short stories for novels, which all featured Philip Marlowe, but several of his short stories originally featured protagonists other than Marlowe, however they became Marlowe stories (or, in a few cases, John Dalmas stories) when they were collected, notably in The Simple Art of Murder, which was a collection of Chandler's short stories with an introductory essay by him on his pulp detective characters. In all cases, the original detective is shown in this list. The first Marlowe novel, The Big Sleep, uses "The Curtain" and "Killer in the Rain." Farewell, My Lovely uses "The Man Who Liked Dogs," "Try the Girl," and "Mandarin's Jade." The Lady in the Lake uses "Bay City Blues," "The Lady in the Lake" and "No Crime in the Mountains." Aside from The Simple Art Of Murder, Chandler didn't allow these stories to be collected and printed in his lifetime, but they were collected in 1964's Killer in the Rain, published after his death. Here's a list of his short stories with the the dates that they were originally published, in which pulp magazine that they were published, and the name of the detective character. In some stories the detective was not named, and that's why it isn't included in this list. Also note that the detective's name is "Carmady" in most of the Black Mask stories, but Chandler changed the name to John Dalmas when he started to write for Dime Detective Magazine.

"Blackmailers Don't Shoot" Dec. 1933, Black Mask, Mallory.
"Smart-Aleck Kill" July 1934, Black Mask, Mallory.
"Finger Man" Oct. 1934, Black Mask, Carmady.
"Killer in the Rain" Jan. 1935, Black Mask, Carmady.
"Nevada Gas" June 1935, Black Mask, no name given.
"Spanish Blood" Nov. 1935, Black Mask.
"Guns at Cyrano's" Jan. 1936, Black Mask, Ted Malvern.
"The Man Who Liked Dogs" March 1936, Black Mask, Carmady.
"Noon Street Nemesis" May 1936, Detective Fiction Weekly, aka "Pick-up on Noon Street".
"Goldfish" June 1936, Black Mask, Carmady.
"The Curtain" Sept. 1936, Black Mask, Carmady.
"Try the Girl" Jan. 1937, Black Mask, Carmady.
"Mandarin's Jade" (Nov 1937, Dime Detective, John Dalmas.
"Red Wind" Jan. 1938, Dime Detective, John Dalmas.
"The King in Yellow" March 1938, Dime Detective.
"Bay City Blues" June 1938, Dime Detective, John Dalmas.
"The Lady in the Lake" Jan. 1939, Dime Detective, John Dalmas.
"Pearls Are a Nuisance" April 1939, Dime Detective.
"Trouble Is My Business" Aug. 1939, Dime Detective, John Dalmas.
"No Crime in the Mountains" Sept. 1941, Detective Story, John Evans.

I'd also like to give credit to the Thrilling Detective web site which provided much of this information.

dragon6 Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2017 8:53 p.m. PST

Very nice

Thanks for the information

wrgmr124 Nov 2017 9:15 p.m. PST

Yes, thanks for the information.
Chandler could turn a phrase like no other.
EG: the kind of building where small businesses crawl to die.
His handshake felt like the belly of wet toad.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2017 6:20 a.m. PST

I see that a new story has Ben discovered. Read about it the other day, basically about someone who can't get health care in the US. He excoriates the system….

The Shadow25 Nov 2017 9:00 a.m. PST

All of Chandler's short stories, including a few that were written for "slick" magazines, are in "Raymond Chandler's Collected Stories". Published by Everyman's Library. Here's a link to the Amazon page:


BrianW25 Nov 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

My first exposure to Chandler on film/video were the HBO episodes that starred Powers Boothe. Always liked him in that role.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2017 12:02 p.m. PST

Chandler is one of my favorite authors. I've read most of the Marlowe books at least twice.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2017 2:15 p.m. PST

Not just Chandler. The operating assumption was that no one who could afford a hardcover book would admit to reading pulps, so pulp writers, offered a chance of a real book sale, stole shamelessly from their pulp short stories. See Hammett--or Robert E. Howard. The rule seems to be that it's "cannibalization" if you appropriate characters, situations and scenes, and a "stitch-up" if you take three or four recognizable short stories and rework them just enough to pass them off as pieces of a novel. (Lots of SF novels from the 50's or 60's began life as short stories, mostly in ASF.)

Most recent I can remember is George Chesbro's "Mongo" stories--also from BLACK MASK. Too late for "pulp era" but some decent ideas for those who do pulp games.

The Shadow25 Nov 2017 6:27 p.m. PST

Red Harvest, The Dain Curse and The Glass key were all originally *serialized* in Black Mask. They were not cannibalized short stories turned into novels with some added and changed material to create one long story, like Chandler did, but rather fully realized novels in the original form, published in four parts.

I wasn't aware that REH "stitched up" any of his stories to create a novel either. Maybe somebody did after his death though. Can you give me an example of a novel that REH created out of previously published short stories?

George Chesbro did not write for Black Mask.

Personal logo chicklewis Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2017 9:22 p.m. PST

Thanks for the posts and hints. I ordered Collected Stories.

The Shadow26 Nov 2017 9:35 p.m. PST

Hiya Chick

I'm very glad to help, and i'm enjoying re-reading them myself. I don't know how the rest of you guys feel, but I think that Chandler was better than Hammett at the "hard boiled detective" school of writing. I've read just about all of the best pulp detective writers and Chandler stands *way* out for me.

Prince Lupus28 Jan 2018 9:50 a.m. PST

Not written by Chandler but the Adventures of Philip Marlowe radio series is worth a listen. From Old Time Radio. The Saint us also available, played by Vincent Price.

The Shadow28 Jan 2018 6:06 p.m. PST


There were many detective programs on the radio. I agree that "Philip Marlowe" was good, and it should be noted that although it's true that most of the stories were not written by Chandler for the program, three were adapted from his written pulp magazine short stories. They were "Red Wind", "Trouble Is My Business" and "The King In Yellow". The other radio detective programs that I enjoyed were "The Adventures of Sam Spade" with Howard Duff, "Richard Diamond, Private Detective" with Dick Powell, "The New Adventures of Michael Shayne" with Jeff Chandler, and "The Adventures of Boston Blackie" with Chester Morris.

pvi99th01 Feb 2018 3:14 p.m. PST

I just read the "Marlowe" collection Trouble is My Business, which features Trouble is My Business, Finger Man, Goldfish, and Red Wind.

I also read Red Harvest by Hammett and bought Them That Lives By Their Guns which features Race Williams by Carroll John Daly.

Looking at possibly doing some Pulp Alley games on this type of story.

The Shadow04 Feb 2018 6:02 p.m. PST


As you've already learned, Chandler's stories don't generally involve many characters in any of the situations or scenes. "Red Harvest" is a good bet though, as I recall that there was at least one fairly large gun battle. The only Race Williams story that I read was "Knights of the Open Palm", which involved the KKK in New Jersey!! No big gunfights in that one either. If you read any of the "Operator #5" pulp reprints you'll find gunfights galore! In fact, a friend from the Jacksonville Garrison wargaming group based in Florida, asked for info on an Op 5 story to put on at a wargaming convention. I obliged, and he came up with a scenario set in Union Square Park in central Manhattan. It was out of the "Purple Invasion" series of novels where the Purple Invaders, from an unnamed country, but obviously based on the Nazis, were about to execute Op 5's main squeeze on a guillotine set up in the center of the park. The difference was that he used several groups of heroes, including Doc Savage and his crew, the Blackhawks, and a few others to fight the invading army. I was there for the game and it was a lot of fun!

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