ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Review of Raymond Chandler's The High Window

Updated on April 26, 2020
satomko profile image

Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.

The High Window's first edition cover
The High Window's first edition cover | Source

In this novel by Raymond Chandler, Private Investigator Philip Marlowe is hired by a wealthy widow to track down a missing gold coin that she thinks her shiftless daughter-in-law has stolen from her late husband’s priceless collection. Ambivalent about the case and his employer from the outset, Marlowe discovers the missing young lady may also be involved with a counterfeiting scheme, murder, and a long term blackmail plot.

As he unravels the conspiracy, Marlowe’s employer suddenly has a change of heart. Though it may cost him the job and possibly his life, Marlowe sticks with the case until he discovers a dark secret that not even decades’ worth of lies can keep hidden.

A Flip of the Coin

As usual, Chandler provides a thrilling mystery with a strong element of menace and personal danger told in the author’s trademark terse and witty style. The dialogue between Marlowe and the abrasive Mrs. Murdock, in particular, makes the pages seem alive with cleverness and tension as it becomes clear she is the first in a line of characters trying to hide something from Marlowe even while demanding his assistance. Chandler also expertly increases the intrigue by deepening the mystery over time and introducing increasingly sinister figures such as the shady coin-dealer, Elisha Morningstar, and the Italian landlord and Funeral Director, Pietro Palermo.

While Chandler’s style is in top form there are a few quarrelsome elements with the plot. There are a few situations, such as the investigation into the murder of James Pollock and overhearing a confrontation between two other characters, where Marlowe seems much more passive than he has in other Chandler novels (217-223). In these instances he appears to be a fortunate recipient of information rather than actively displaying his keen sense of perception or his pitiless information-gathering methods. Of course, he uses the knowledge passively gained to make spectacular judgments and revelations, but they don’t feel as strongly earned as similar scenes in The Big Sleep or The Lady in the Lake.

A Brasher Doubloon acts as an important MacGuffin in The High Window
A Brasher Doubloon acts as an important MacGuffin in The High Window

Investigator Philosophy

What the reader might miss in terms of plot points is recouped in stunning and forthright exploration of Marlowe’s character. As with Chandler’s other novels, the setting of 1940’s Los Angeles and Pasadena are ripe with corruption and characters all seeking to do whatever is in their power, legal or not, to fulfill their own self-interests. Usually Marlowe provides a counterpoint to this bleak world through his dedication and adherence to a personal moral compass upon which he doesn’t spend much of time reflecting. In The High Window, however, Detective Breeze aggressively questions him about his own motives and honesty, and Marlowe responds by citing a case where the wealthy father of a murderer manages to use his society connections to essentially make the crime look as though someone else had committed it (118-21). In his explanation, Marlowe reveals himself as something of a humanist who believes that people, regardless of money or social station, have a right to the truth and that Marlowe operates as a private detective so that he is beholden only to his conscience and the truth.

How’s the View?

The High Window stands as another solid and evocative work that confirms Chandler’s skill not only in the genre but also as talented author capable of handling complex characters, a fast-paced plot, and a setting that truly feels inhabited by the characters. This novel is well worth reading if for no other reason than to experience a book where the author has a clear vision and command of his craft, and it ranks among the strongest of Chandler's hard-boiled stories.


Chandler, Raymond. The High Window. New York: Vintage Crime / Black Lizard, 1992.

© 2011 Seth Tomko


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      9 years ago from Macon, GA

      Chandler's works are worth rereading, dahoglund. Especially if before revisiting his novels you read his essays on crime/detective fiction in The Simple Art of Murder and Trouble is My Business. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Chandler's style was unique for his time.I should read some of his work again.

    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      9 years ago from Macon, GA

      I appreciate your comments Anthea and encourage you to keep enjoying Chandler's novels.

    • Anthea Carson profile image

      Anthea Carson 

      9 years ago from Colorado Springs

      Well written hub, I love Chandler mysteries.

    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      9 years ago from Macon, GA

      No problem, Cogerson, and thank you for stopping by.

    • Cogerson profile image


      9 years ago from Virginia

      It sounds like a good novel to read, thanks for posting your review....I will check this one out also.

    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      9 years ago from Macon, GA

      Thank you WillStarr and Genna East. I'm a fan of most of Chandler's work, and I think The High Window stands not only as a strong example of his work but also as a first-rate piece of noir fiction.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I love a good mystery, and will check this one out. Thanks for the info!

    • WillStarr profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      I haven't read any Marlow mysteries in years. Thank you for reminding me to do so.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)