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Example: Raymond Chandler’s “The Simple Art of Murder” and “Trouble Is My Business”

Arguments against classic detective story 

· Main point 1: The classic detective story is not realistic, it rarely is. “… Jane Austen’s chronicles of highly inhibited people against a background of rural gentility seem real enough psychologically. There is plenty of that kind of social and emotional hypocrisy around today” (Chandler 208).  

· Main point 2: The classic detective story is too detached. “The murder novel has also a depressing way of minding its own business, solving its own problems and answering questions” (Chandler 208). 

· Main point 3: The motives for the murders in these stories are implausible, the plots are completely made-up, and the characters are pitifully two-dimensional, “puppets and cardboard lovers and papier mâché villains and detectives of exquisite and impossible gentility” (Chandler 215). 

· Main point 4: The authors of this fiction are ignorant of the realities of life. “They are too contrived, and too little aware of what goes on in the world” (Chandler 214). 

· Main point 5: Authors have fallen short of being true to reality. “If the writers of this fiction wrote about the kind of murders that happen, they would also have to write about the authentic flavor of life as it is lived. And since they cannot do that, they pretend that what they do is what should be done” (Chandler 214). 

Connections to Louise Penny’s A Rule Against Murder: Penny’s A Rule of Murder certainly lacks realism. Unlike in the novel where the crime could be solved in a relatively short amount of time, crime investigation in real life takes a lot of time. It could take months and years, and some are even left unsolved. Gathering enough concrete evidence is not only hard but also most of the time, close to impossible as most of the evidence are tampered, lost and just doesn’t make sense. Furthermore, the novel was solely focused on the crime, it gave a sense of detachment as it didn’t really say much about whatever’s happening outside the Manoir Bellechasse.  


Arguments for Chandlers ideal detective and detective story 

· Main point 1: Chandler’s ideal detective story is one that is realistic. “How original a writer Hammett really was, … He made some of it up; all writers do; but it had a basis in fact; it was made up out of real things” (Chandler 216). 

· Main point 2: His ideal detective story takes place in a rather dark but realistic world. “The realist in murder writes of a world in which gangsters can rule nations and almost rule cities, … a world where a judge with a cellar full of bootleg liquor can send a man to jail for having a pint in his pocket, … no man can walk down a dark street in safety because law and order are things we talk about but refrain from practising, …  a world where you may witness a hold-up in broad daylight and see who did it, but you will fade quickly back into the crowd rather than tell anyone, … the shyster for the defense will be allowed to abuse and vilify you in open court, before a jury of selected morons” (Chandler 218).  

· Main point 3: Chandler’s ideal detective must be “a hero. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world” (Chandler 219). 

· Main point 4: His ideal detective must be a “man of honor” (Chandler 219). However, Chandler does not care much about his private life, “he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things” (Chandler 219). 

· Main point 5: His ideal detective is a “relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man, or he could not go among common people” (Chandler 219). 

· Main point 6: His ideal detective “has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge” (Chandler 219). 

· Main point 7: His ideal detective is “a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness” (Chandler 219). 

· Main point 8: His ideal detective “has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in” (Chandler 219). 

Connections to Chandler’s “Trouble Is My Business”: A millionaire hires Marlowe to warn a fortune-hunter away from the old man’s reckless adopted son in “Trouble Is My Business.” All evidence points to the fortune-hunter and her gambler boyfriend after the boy is shot. However, Marlowe soon discovers that the millionaire’s insatiable greed drove him to murder his own stepson in order to inherit the boy’s inheritance. Chandler has really stuck to his ideals in this story. The world he created is dark and full of swearing and violence, however, it does not stray past realism. Philip Marlowe, the detective in the story, also meets his ideals. Philip Marlowe is a decent man who follows a fair and mostly honest code of conduct. He’s tough and capable, as well as smart and resourceful. He’s also a man of honor as he is the type of private detective who will go out on a limb or put himself in danger to help almost any woman who asks for help. He isn’t afraid to charge for his services, but he does find himself working for free on occasion due to unforeseen circumstances. 

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