A Mysterious Something in the Light

A Mysterious Something in the Light
A Mysterious Something in the Light

A Mysterious Something in the Light

The Life of Raymond Chandler
By Tom Williams


384 Pages, 6 x 9.25

Formats: Cloth, PDF, EPUB, Mobipocket, Trade Paper

Cloth, $29.95 (US $29.95) (CA $32.95)

ISBN 9781613748404

Rights: US & CA

Chicago Review Press (Sep 2013)


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Investigating the hard-boiled history of the master of detective fiction
The life of Raymond Chandler has long been obscured by secrets and half-truths as deceptive as anything in his novel The Long Goodbye. Now, drawing on new interviews, previously unpublished letters, and archives on both sides of the Atlantic, Tom Williams casts a new light on this most mysterious of writers.The Raymond Chandler revealed is a man troubled by loneliness and desertion from an early age. Born in Chicago in 1888, his childhood was overshadowed by the collapse of his parents' marriage, his father's alcohol-fuelled violence eventually forcing the boy and his doting mother to leave for Ireland and later London. But class-bound England proved stifling, and Chandler, in his twenties and eager to forge a new life, returned to the United States where—in corruption-ridden Los Angeles—he met his one great love, Cissy Pascal, a married woman eighteen years his senior.It was only during middle age, after his alcoholism wrecked a lucrative career as an oilman, that Chandler seriously turned to crime fiction. And his legacy—the lonely, ambiguous world of Philip Marlowe—endures, compelling generations of crime writers to follow him.In this long-awaited new biography, Tom Williams shadows one of the true literary giants of the twentieth 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 clear-eyed, 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

"A fresh and entertaining recounting." —Mystery Scene

"[An] excellent new biography...A Mysterious Something in the Light argues Chandler’s case beautifully. It is well researched, but because it is so well written it should be of interest to scholars and mystery fans alike." —Washington Independent Review of Books

"Williams provides details about Chandler's family background, education, business efforts, and friendships, and shows us how elements of each are expressed in his stories." —Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine

"Strongly researched and highly readable." —Wall Street Journal

Author Biography

Tom Williams has spent six years investigating the life and times of Raymond Chandler. This is his first book.