Investigating the hard-boiled history of the master of detective fiction
Drawing on new interviews, previously unpublished letters, and archives, this biography casts a new light on Raymond Chandler, one of the most mysterious of writers. The man revealed was troubled by loneliness and desertion from an early age—experiences that informed his writing as much as they scarred his life. The bleak picture details the collapse of his parents’ marriage, and the relocation of Chandler and his mother to Ireland, and later London, due to his father’s alcohol-fueled violence. In his 20s, he returned to the United States and he met his one great love, Cissy Pascal, a married woman 18 years his senior. Only during middle age, after his own alcoholism dissolved a lucrative career as an oilman, did Chandler turn to crime fiction, although his success proved bittersweet. His literary obsession, ambition, and suicidal turn after Cissy’s death combined to prevent him from living up to the promise of his first novels. This long-awaited biography shadows one of the true literary giants of the 20th century and considers how crime writing was raised to the level of art.
"Outstanding. . . . Williams writes sensitively about the Cissy relationship and delves illuminatingly into the composition of Chandler's masterpieces. . . . Thanks to his biography Chandler himself is a less mysterious something than he was." —Sunday Times
"Precise, kindly, and necessary." —Scotland on Sunday
"a cleareyed, compassionate biography."—Kirkus Reviews
"Meticulously annotated and researched, and written with a tangible fondness, it’s hard not to appreciate Williams’s efforts."—Publishers Weekly