Forgotten Book: Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler

this is the 259th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler, stories originally published 1934-1941,
this collection © 1964. Shown is my Ballantine Books 1977 mass market paperback

This short story collection contains 8 stories: “Killer in the Rain”, “The Man Who Liked Dogs”, “The Curtain”, “Try the Girl”, Mandarin’s Jade”, “Bay City Blues”, “The Lady in the Lake”, “No Crime in the Mountains”.

These stories by Chandler are both less and more than they seem. Every one of them was cannibalized by Chandler and became part of a novel. Sometimes it was a character or two who made the transition, more often it was whole pieces of plot, in some cases the entire story was used and became a novel by added plot and a few name changes.

In his informative introduction to this collection, Philip Durham traces the publication and cannibalization of these eight stories, part or all of which became The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely and The Lady in the Lake.

None of the stories in this collection appears in Chandler’s 1950 “official” short story collection The Simple Art of Murder. Once Chandler cannibalized a story he believed it should be buried, so the stories were left to fade away with the pulp magazines in which they were originally published, thus none of these stories was published by Chandler during his lifetime, though three were published in collections, which Chandler maintained were published by mistake and without his permission:“No Crime in the Mountains” appeared in Great American Detective Stories edited by Anthony Boucher (1945), “The Man Who Liked Dogs” appeared in Joseph Shaw’s The Hard Boiled Omnibus(1946) while “Bay City Blues” appeared in Verdict (1953).

This collection – bought new – was my introduction to Raymond Chandler. I was wowed by the writing, and I was hooked. I read this collection, The Simple Art of Murder and the collection Pickup On Noon Street before I ever got to one of Chandler’s novels. When I did start on the novels – with The Big Sleep if I recall correctly – I was so enthralled I didn’t notice there were pieces of the short stories I’d already read. If I had, I wouldn’t have cared. Or perhaps I noticed and just don’t remember now, after I’ve read all of Chandler so many times.

This collection should be easy enough to find through the usual used book channels, and while these stories are not in the two volume Library of America set of Chandler’s works, they are to be found in the 1,300 page Raymond Chandler: Collected Stories published by Everyman’s Library, which contains all of Chandler’s short fiction, mystery and other. Whatever the source, it’s worth seeking these out. You just can’t go wrong with Raymond Chandler.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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19 Responses to Forgotten Book: Killer in the Rain by Raymond Chandler

  1. I’m with you Richard – unlike Hammett, where some claim his major work is only in the short stories (I beg to differ), with Chandler the novels are the best of his output, but these are also great reads. Like the sound of the intro too, don’t have this edition.

  2. Todd Mason says:

    Whereas I do have this edition, and last night in email was confusing this one for THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER. (It was a distracting night.)

  3. I guess Raymond Chandler is about as forgotten as SGT. PEPPER. Many of Chandler’s novels were “fix-ups” with short stories added into the mix. For me, Chandler is all about writing style. And that style shines in Chandler’s short stories.

  4. Gotta get this. going to amazon now

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Good choice. I discovered Chandler by reading the first four novels back to back in five days in 1975. I didn’t read any of the stories for a number of years, then read the “cannibalized” collection in 2000. As I remember it, the introduction did an excellent job of putting the stories in perspective. I still prefer Hammett (who I first read a year later), but Chandler is great too.

    • I’m glad I started with the stories; I had a better feel for his writing when I started the novels. I like Hammett, whom I also read later, but my heart belongs to Chandler.

  6. tracybham says:

    I wasn’t aware of this book of short fiction. I will be looking for it too. Thanks for featuring it, Rick.

  7. Yvette says:

    Wasn’t aware of this either, Rick. I’ll be sure to get nice used copy (read: cheap) to add to my shelves. I have read most of Chandler’s novels and enjoyed them, especially LADY IN THE LAKE (which is also my favorite film based on a Chandler book.). Hammett I’m not so crazy about. But then I’ve only read a couple of his books. ADORE the THIN MAN movies though. 🙂

  8. Steve Lewis says:

    All wonderful stories. A great collection!

  9. I have the Library of America Raymond Chandler volumes which include:
    Pulp Stories
    Blackmailers Don’t Shoot
    Smart-Aleck Kill
    Finger Man
    Nevada Gas
    Spanish Blood
    Guns at Cyrano’s
    Pick-Up on Noon Street
    Goldfish
    Red Wind
    The King in Yellow
    Pearls Are a Nuisance
    Trouble Is My Business
    I’ll Be Waiting

    The Big Sleep

    Farewell, My Lovely

    The High Window

    The Lady in the Lake

    The Little Sister

    The Long Goodbye

    Playback

    Double Indemnity

    Selected Essays
    The Simple Art of Murder
    Writers in Hollywood
    Twelve Notes on the Mystery Story
    Notes on English and American Style
    Introduction to The Simple Art of Murder

    Selected Letters

  10. Exactly! Another reason why people should check out KILLER IN THE RAIN!

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