Inspiration – Stephen Puleston

In this week’s blog Crime Cymru’s Stephen Puleston writes about a major influence on his writing career and encourages us to read the work of a renowned American author.

There are few books I have read twice. The Marlowe novels by Raymond Chandler fall into that category. The novels have inspired me over the years and I often return to them.

I think one of my favourites is The Big Sleep and the first chapter doesn’t have a single stray comma, word or sentence. The sheer quality of the writing drives the narrative and engages the reader with the characters even though there may be the occasional plot hole. The book creates a sense of the empty lives of the rich in 30s Los Angeles and Marlowe shares with us his take on society as the plot unfolds.

Chandler is the master of the hard boiled American noir and he wrote very few novels. Philip Marlowe is his standout creation, an honest man with a principled sardonic view of life – the master of the pithy one-liner.

The Long Goodbye opens with Terry Lennox a drunk and an acquaintance of Marlowe being implicated in the death of his wife and persuades Marlowe to help him flee to Mexico. When Lennox is found dead things begin to spiral out of control and Marlowe finds himself drawn into the sordid world of high-rolling drunks and adulterers in Los Angeles’ Idle Valley.

This isn’t the classic sort of police procedural where the detective uncovers clues but Marlowe has an unshakeable conviction that Terry Lennox wasn’t responsible for killing his wife and that a mystery needs to be uncovered. There are some exquisite passages of description – don’t miss the one where Marlowe defines a blonde.

Marlowe works as a private investigator but he takes a principled stance even to the point of subjecting himself to incarceration in the local police station when he wasn’t guilty. He can be rude and acerbic but he knows right from wrong and the novel has an intensity that propels the characters and plot forward. Marlowe shares with us his contempt for the cynical spoiled society in which he lives.

Raymond Chandler said that character is plot and with Marlowe he had created a wonderfully engaging individual. His novels are a must for anybody who enjoys crime novels.

Stephen was born and raised on Anglesey and is bilingual. After leaving school in Holyhead he trained as a solicitor. He worked in general practice undertaking criminal work in the magistrates and crown courts, divorce and family work. All of which gave him a lot of raw material for his novels. Stephen lives on Anglesey, near the beach and the mountains of Snowdonia.

You can read more about Stephen on his Crime Cymru page here, or his Amazon page here

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