To honor Raymond Chandler on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, Byron Preiss commissioned a number of contemporary writers to try their hands at writing Philip Marlowe stories. So a number of them did, including Roger L. Simon, Roger Crais, Robert J. Randisi, John Lutz, and other known names as well as a bunch of writers I hadn’t read before.
As with any amalgamation, the treatment remains uneven. Some of the authors appreciated Chandler’s style, and the stories mesh with Chandler’s voice and vision for Marlowe. In many cases, the author might as well have taken one of his own short stories and have changed the names and sometimes the gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and board game affinity to get the check. Still, the book moves quickly, as even the most flamboyantly non-Marlowe stories are just short stories and are decent examples of the mystery fiction.
An interesting omission from this book: Robert B. Parker. After all, he finished Poodle Springs and then wrote the poor sequel to The Big Sleep, Perchance to Dream. By 1988, he’d written a number of Spenser novels and had a television show for which he consulted. That’s a why-didn’t-he-do-it worthy of investigation!
The book’s worth your money if you’re an extreme Raymond Chandler fan, like I am, and it’s worth it if you’re just a mystery fan and can find it cheaply. It’s probably not worth Internet prices for the casual reader, though ($20.00 hardback, $7 paperback) unless you’re Byron Preiss’s mom. Sorry, Byron.