Ayo Onatade is an avid reader of crime and mystery fiction. She has been writing reviews, interviews and articles on the subject for the last 12 years; with an eclectic taste from historical to hardboiled, short stories and noir films
Yes I know there are other books on Chandler such as McShane and Hiney (and any fan of Chandler should already have copies of those books) out there.
But one of the reasons why I enjoyed this book so much is the fact that it does not solely concentrate on his novels but also takes in his poetry and most importantly we (in my opinion) get a much better look at the two most important women in his life – his mother and his wife Cissy. Furthermore, it does not shy away from describing Chandler’s faults. In fact, we read about them warts and all. Williams's book portrays an exciting depiction of a man in pieces, a sequence of parts that do not measure up.
A Mysterious Something in the Light traces Chandler’s life from his birth in Chicago (and his relationship with his alcoholic father) to his upbringing and schooling in England to his work as a hack on Fleet Street and his return and work in the States. It also looks at his time in the trenches and his work as an oil executive until he was fired for being absent due to his alcoholism and his writing for Black Mask Magazine.
This new biography draws on new interviews, hitherto unpublished letters and documents on both sides of the Atlantic. This is not to say that one should not read McShane or Hiney but if you want to read a different perspective about the flawed author that is Raymond Chandler then A Mysterious Something in the Light is well worth reading. Furthermore, if you do not have the McShane or Hiney already, then this is a good starting point. Aside from that, if you are a fan of Chandler then you should have this book in your collection as well.