Short Story Saturday: Trouble is My Business by Raymond Chandler (Philip Marlowe, 8)

Trouble is my Business is a collection of short stories by Raymond Chandler, first published in 1939. The stories feature Chandler’s iconic private detective, Philip Marlowe, as he navigates a variety of complex and dangerous cases in the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. The collection includes some of Chandler’s most well-known and beloved stories, including “Red Wind,” “Trouble is my Business,” and “Goldfish.”

One of the strengths of Trouble is my Business is Chandler’s writing style. Chandler’s prose is hard-boiled and highly stylized, with vivid descriptions of the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles. His writing style is often imitated but never duplicated, with a distinctive mix of tough-guy slang, vivid imagery, and sardonic humor. Chandler’s writing style is a key part of what makes “Trouble is my Business” such an engaging and entertaining read.

Another strength of the collection is the character of Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is the archetypal hard-boiled private detective, with a cynical worldview, a sharp wit, and a moral code that often puts him at odds with the corrupt world around him. Marlowe is a complex and fascinating character, with a rich inner life that is hinted at but never fully explored. He is a character that readers can root for and identify with, even as he navigates a dangerous and corrupt world.

The stories in Trouble is my Business are also a strength of the collection. Each story is a self-contained mystery, with its own unique plot and cast of characters. The stories are well-written and engaging, with plenty of action, suspense, and plot twists to keep the reader guessing. The stories also showcase Chandler’s skill at creating complex and believable characters, from the femme fatales to the crooked cops and gangsters.

Another strength of Trouble is my Business is the way that Chandler captures the mood and atmosphere of Los Angeles in the 1930s. The city is portrayed as a place of glitz and glamour on the surface, but with a dark and dangerous underbelly lurking just beneath the surface. Chandler’s descriptions of the city are vivid and evocative, painting a picture of a city that is both seductive and menacing.

One of the weaknesses of Trouble is my Business is the uneven quality of the stories. While the collection includes some of Chandler’s most well-known and beloved stories, such as “Red Wind” and “Trouble is my Business,” it also includes some stories that are less engaging and memorable. Some of the stories in the collection feel like they were written quickly and without as much care as Chandler put into his longer works.

Another weakness of Trouble is my Business is the way that Chandler portrays women in his stories. While Marlowe is a complex and well-developed character, many of the female characters in the stories are portrayed as one-dimensional objects of desire. They are often portrayed as either seductive temptresses or helpless victims, with little agency of their own. This is a common feature of the hard-boiled detective genre, but it can be frustrating for modern readers who are used to more nuanced and complex portrayals of female characters.

Trouble is my Business is a classic collection of hard-boiled detective stories that showcases Raymond Chandler’s distinctive writing style, complex characters, and skill at creating vivid and atmospheric settings. While the collection is not without its flaws, it is an entertaining and engaging read that will appeal to fans of the genre. Chandler’s enduring legacy as one of the greatest writers of crime fiction is well-deserved, and Trouble is my Business is a testament to his talent as a storyteller. You can pick up this genre defining short story collection here.

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