Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The High Window by Raymond Chandler

The High Window (1942)

by Raymond Chandler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Philip Marlowe (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,817203,849 (3.97)56



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 56 mentions

English (17)  Spanish (3)  All languages (20)
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Raymond Chandler himself didn't think much of this one ("No action, no likable characters, no nothing," he wrote to his publisher when he had finished revising the novel in March 1942), but The High Window has always been a personal favorite of mine. In the sense that it contains almost no physical action, Chandler's assessment was accurate, and his biographer Frank MacShane correctly observed that the book walks an uneasy line between deadly seriousness and almost grotesque humor. But that's just real life, isn't it? The shoot-'em-up hardboiled tale had, after two decades, become a cliché; the genre desperately needed some psychological depth, and that's what Chandler gave it with this novel. And, while the characters might not be "likable" in the strictest sense, they're certainly fascinating: in particular, Mr. Palermo (the owner of the funeral parlor) and the old elevator operator are characters that only Chandler could have written, people so authentically homely that you could reach out and touch them. The solution to the mystery is rather improbable, but that will come as no surprise to fans of this author. At the conclusion of the proceedings, PI Philip Marlowe--as usual--feels a little sick to his stomach and more than a little contemptuous of the human race, and the reader won't blame him one bit. In short, The High Window is essential Chandler. ( )
  Jonathan_M | May 24, 2016 |
As usual, I enjoyed Chandler's work!
  rrbritt53 | Oct 27, 2015 |
Recently I bought all of Chandler’s Marlowe novels and short stories and have begun reading them in chronological order. It’s possible that I shouldn’t have dove into the stories ahead of the novels since many of the latter are drawn from the former, some in so much detail that it brought on serious washes of deja vu. Not so with The High Window which is cut from whole cloth, not scraps of other projects. And it shows. To me, unlike The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, this novel is tighter, more focused and coherent even if the plot is as complex as Chandler liked to write them.

Right from the beginning, the writing crackles off the page like describing someone as “thin as an honest alibi”. Oh that’s so great. Then there’s Marlowe’s solid trade craft and sleight of hand when it comes to manipulating situations to his advantage (always with the client’s best interest in mind). The first scene at the coin dealer’s office was knife-edged with longing to see Marlowe play the culprits off each other. When more bits of information are dropped, the whole sinister plot is just delicious in its duplicity and cunning. At least we think we know the whole plot. Chandler keeps a few things back to surprise us with in the end.

And of course, Marlowe wears his heart on his sleeve the whole time. I forget what a big mush he really is, what with believing in real justice and all. When he sees a person put upon and he can right the wrong, he goes out of his way to do the right thing. Sure, his cynicism runs deep, but Marlowe is a romantic at his core. And that’s just what we love about him. ( )
2 vote Bookmarque | Dec 12, 2014 |
"The wind was quiet out here and the valley moonlight was so sharp that the black shadows looked as if they had been cut with an engraving tool."

Marlowe is tasked with tracking down and acquiring a stolen rare coin dubbed the Brasher Doubloon. Its owner, Mrs. Murdock, believes that her recently estranged daughter-in-law is the culprit. Unfortunately for Marlowe, there’s rarely ever an open and shut case and it isn’t long before he’s tied up in a web of deceit and murder.

I’m beginning to feel like there’s no such thing as a bad Marlowe story. While The High Window isn’t as quotable as The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, the case is just as interesting and the twists and turns in the story had me guessing right up to the end. It also doesn't hurt that the majority of the supporting cast are deplorable, shameless characters and while their actions affect others in ways they may not have intended, when they’re shown the error of their ways, they couldn't give a damn.

One of the things I really enjoyed was Marlowe’s insistence that several of the folks he comes across ooze noir stereotypes (the sexy femme fatale, the tough talking club owner complete with big bodyguard). It’s one thing to write these characters but it’s another thing to call attention to it; almost like breaking the fourth wall so to speak.

As many have pointed out, it’s not really because of the plot that you’re picking up a Chandler novel and I’m beginning to see why. Chandler writes Marlowe with such bravado, it’s like Marlowe thinks everyone is either constantly bluffing or just plain full of shit. He’s seemingly always a step ahead and he’s got more lines than a coke dealer.

The High Window has a satisfying conclusion and once again reinforces why Chandler is considered a master of the crime fiction genre. Onward to book four!

Also posted @ Every Read Thing ( )
1 vote branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
"All I knew about the people was that they were a Mrs Elizabeth Bright Murdock and family and that she wanted to hire a nice clean private detective who wouldn't drop cigar ashes on the floor and never carried more than one gun. And I knew she was the widow of an old coot with whiskers named Jasper Murdock who had made a lot of money helping out the community, and got his photograph in the Pasadena paper every year on his anniversary, with the years of his birth and death underneath, and the legend: His Life Was His Service."

Yes, we're back in Chandler territory, and Marlowe's taken on a new case. (Does anyone know if the choice of Marlowe for a name was significant?) Mark Billingham in his introduction to the 2005 Penguin edition comments that Chandler gave him a taste for dark and realistic crime fiction, where the solving of the puzzle is less important than character. I'm not sure about character, let alone plot - what Chandler delivered was style.

I finished The High Window about a week ago, and I've just had to read the back cover to remind myself what it was about. Although The High Window is perhaps weaker than his more well known works, I must confess that I've not entirely followed the logic of any of his plots. I seem to recall that one of his biggies, The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely or possibly The Lady In the Lake famously has a character disappear inexplicably leaving a bit of a hole. I note from the introduction that The High Window was twice made into a film, once as 'Time To Kill' in 1943 and once as 'The Brasher Doubloon' in 1947, but neither was successful.

Regardless of plot Chandler is always satisfying to read; one reads him for the smart aleck one liners, the imagination inevitably superimposing Bogart on the author's original Marlowe, and the splendid similies ("Her hair was as artificial as a nightclub lobby"). Much alcohol is consumed, and much tobacco is smoked. There is a degree of strong arm and fisticuffs. The gentle reader calls from the sidelines 'No, don't give Marlowe your keys! Don't arrange to meet him later! You know it will end in tears!", but deaf to the reader's entreaties the characters hand over their keys, make appointments, and die. The very predictability is part of the satisfaction of reading these books.

The High Window's plot includes a Nutty Female. Nutty Females do turn up in Chandler's work from time to time, and I assume they are a reflection of popularization of psychoanalysis at the time. I think they are a bit of a flaw, but take them as part of the period setting.

So, while I definitely think that everyone should read at least one Chandler, this is not one that I would recommend.

And for realistic crime I would recommend the Martin Beck series starting with Roseanna.
1 vote Oandthegang | Mar 19, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Raymond Chandlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
HavankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kauffer, E. McKnightCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zwartjes, RenéeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
The house was on Dresden Avenue in the Oak Noll section of Pasadena, a big solid cool-looking house with burgundy brick walls, a terra cotta tile roof, and a white stone trim.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0394758269, Paperback)

A wealthy Pasadena widow with a mean streak, a missing daughter-in-law with a past, and a gold coin worth a small fortune—the elements don't quite add up until Marlowe discovers evidence of murder, rape, blackmail, and the worst kind of human exploitation.

"Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude."-- Erle Stanley Gardner

"Raymond Chandler has given us a detective who is hard-boiled enough to be convincing . . . and that is no mean achievement." -- The New York Times

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Philip Marlowe, a private detective, searches for a priceless gold coin Mrs. Murdock suspects was stolen by a member of her family

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
3 avail.
55 wanted
2 pay9 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.97)
1 1
1.5 2
2 5
2.5 2
3 80
3.5 32
4 188
4.5 18
5 95


3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Store | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 105,913,606 books! | Top bar: Always visible