The Simple Art of Murder

The Simple Art of Murder
Raymond Chandler
1944

In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption… down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. 

 

The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. 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, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honour, by ‘ instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it.

 

He 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. He has a sense of character, or he would not do his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge.
   
He 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 man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.

 

The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.  Later Chandler wrote this about his hero:

 

"Marlowe is a lonely man, a poor man, a dangerous man, and yet a sympathetic man…  I see him always in a lonely street, in lonely rooms, puzzled but never quite defeated…"