A SCOTS LADY ON CHANDLER'S MEAN STREETS: THE SECOND MURDERER BY DENISE MINA
Many current authors have lately taken on the challenge of writing for Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. Last year, I.Q. writer Joe Ide did a modern update on the L.A. detective. With The Second Murderer, Denise Mina places him in the late thirties we picture hm in and presents it to the reader as less of a challenge and more of a lark.
She gives us a classic Marlowe tale. After some back and forth, Marlowe agrees to work for Chadwick Montgomery to find his daughter, Chrissie, who skipped out before her remarriage. The trail leads through the murder of coboy bit player, Pasco Pete, the art world, and possibly Nazis. He also crosses paths with Anne Riordan, from Farewell My Lovely, who now runs her on investigation firm.
Mina captures Chandler by finding commonalities between her writing and his. This mainly comes from the world weary humor both share, She sharpens her own to fit the L.A. jaundice in Marlowe's observations and dialogue and the character allows her to be at her funniest. She also also has that empathy for the underdog that often appears in Chandler's work. Marlowe waxes poetic about Pasco Pete as well as Manny Perez, a drunken ex-fighter he works for information.
She then leans in an celebrates the trappings of the genre of that time. She populates her thirties L.A. of Beverly Hills, Bunker Hill, and The Bradbury Building with dames, gangsters, and upper class types you like less than the gangsters. Marlow trades just the right amount of punches , bullets, and quips. She even goes for the similes and metaphors without wandering into parody.
Denise Mina appears to be having fun in Chandler's sandbox and it's infectious. She shares with the reader not only a love of Chandler, but for classic private eye fiction itself. With The Second Murderer, she gives a throwback to The Black Mask days at their best.