It’s honestly a pretty draining prospect to read 26 Raymond Chandler stories. Here’s why: he was so remarkably consistent that the stories are thorough, thoughtful, a little repetitive–along a few common paths–, and they are long. Each of these stories is between about 45-60 pages (using Everyman Library pages at that), and so the grand total of 26 of his stories is about 1300 pages. And so I have been working on these a lot.
If there were more variety, I would be more excited by a lot of these, but there’s usually a murder, a blackmail, or an insurance scam. There’s Marlowe stories, which is great, and there are another set of stories using a different detective named Carmady, which is ok. And then there are the more random stories where Chandler creates a different world, which is the best.
Another goofy thing about the stories is how very detective! the stories are here. So for example the number of times the phrases “shamus” and “dick” are used is ridiculous. There’s also some uncomfortable racism thrown in against Mexicans, Black people, and Jewish people….so you know.
Anyway, the other thing I will tell you is that Chandler’s writing is very mature and polished from the get go. I think this is a result of his career not really getting started until he was in his mid-40s. In addition the stories are just not meant to be read in this format. They were published over about 10 years in a variety of magazines, and that difference in space and time I imagine that adds to their variety.