This is the first of three books so far in the series. The setting is Scotland in the 1890s when the city was sharply divided between the well-to-do and the not so-well-to-do. Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is given the case of a suspected suicide, but Hamilton sees at once that it is murder.
The DI chases the elusive killer all while chasing his own ghosts and dealing poorly with his older brother who is finally giving up the bottle.
As the title and cover might suggest this story is on the dark side. Also, DI Hamilton is fixated on solving the case and has little personality for anything else. Still, it is a gripping tale.
Lawrence has also written as C. E. Lawrence and Carole Bugge.
This is a small collection of four of Chandler’s short stories. The first story was called Trouble is My Business, published in the Dime Detective in 1939. The second was Finger Man appearing in Black Mask in 1934. The third story was Goldfish also in Black Mask in 1936. The last story, published in 1938 in Dime Detective, was Red Wind.
If you have not read Chandler, these represent a fair sampling of his most famous character, Philip Marlowe, one of the best of the tough, hard-boiled detectives of the era. In reality, he was a short story writer. When he turned to novels, all but two of them took large chunks out of his short stories.
Both his novels and short stories are easy reads. His character descriptions are fun to read because he was fond of overstatements. He had a wedge-shaped face that ended in a point, like the bottom half of the ace of diamonds. He had dark moist eyes and a nose so bloodless that it might have been made of white wax.
Heroes are supposed to reach a goal by the end of the story. Marlowe never changes. His goal is to make some money. He gets into and out of trouble until the story ends. The fun for we readers is in Chandler’s gift of describing the action as well as the players.
If you read only to better yourself, give this a pass.