What were the Americans up to?
After reading British Golden Age mysteries, and modern stories influenced by the Brits, let's look at what the Americans were up to during the same period. This month, it's Raymond Chandler.
Chandler's first novel to feature Philip Marlowe, The Big Sleep follows Marlowe's work for the Sternwood family. General Sternwood's wild daughter Carmen is being blackmailed by a pornographer, and his son-in-law has disappeared, presumably with the wife of a casino owner. Marlowe's investigations cause a chain reaction of murder, seduction, and betrayal. With The Big Sleep, Chandler deepened the intensity of the "hard-boiled" detective story by adding atmospheric description and the detective's musings, making book a perennial entry in "100 Best Novel" lists. Along with writers such as Dashiell Hammett and James M. Cain, Chandler is credited with developing this entirely new and entirely American genre of mysteries.
We'll also be handing out copies of The Thin Man, our August read.
WhoDunnits is a discussion group devoted to mysteries and following a yearlong program of books and movies around a single topic. We'll have featured titles some months, and do themes with title suggestions other months. We'll also hold occasional movie showings. This year we're taking a look at the Golden Age of Mysteries, the period between the wars that saw an explosion of cozy British country house murders, dark detection by damaged detectives, and noble amateurs whimsically solving crimes. This era produced mystery legends like Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Dashiell Hammett, Ngaio Marsh -- and even influenced writers working today.
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We'll be starting our new year in September - check back for the theme.