The Lady in the Lake

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Another book down on my mini-project to reread Raymond Chandler's Marlowe novels. This one was published in 1943, during World War II, and the war gets occasional references in the narration. (And, small spoiler: the war footing turns out to play a role in the book's resolution.)

Marlowe is hired to try to track down Crystal Kingsley by her husband, Derace. The last Derace heard of her was a telegram sent from San Bernardino saying she was divorcing him and marrying her boyfriend, Chris Lavery.

So Marlowe's first stop is Lavery, who claims to have not seen Crystal. But on his way out, Marlowe gets hassled by a bullying cop who seems to think that Marlowe's scoping out the house across the street, site of a previous mysterious death. Weird!

Marlowe follows another lead up to the remote cabin Kingsley owns, up by Little Fawn Lake. He runs into the caretaker, Bill Chess, who says, yeah, Crystal was there, but left. Bill's also bereft at being left by his wife, Muriel, weeks ago. At about the same time Crystal left. While touring the property, Chess and Marlowe notice a submerged corpse. Could it be the titular Lady? Yes! And Chess identifies the bloated body as Muriel.

But that's just victim number one. Marlowe follows the usual convoluted trail in search of Crystal, encountering plenty of colorful characters, only a few of them winding up dead. Another small spoiler: it takes Marlowe a couple pages of dense text at the end to explain all the ins and outs of what really happened and whodunit.


Last Modified 2024-01-10 5:55 AM EST