Tag Archive: Philip Marlowe


Review by C.J. Bunce

One of the greatest living writers is back with something different.  Although his horror prowess shines through, Kim Newman (interviewed here) has penned a story that would make anyone think he has spent his career writing noir stories.  His new novel Something More Than Night takes its title from a line from a Raymond Chandler novel (Trouble is My Business).  It’s a story that takes real-life commonalities of the 1930s lives of Chandler and monster movie actor Boris Karloff and weaves them into a moody mystery far better than anything Chandler ever wrote.  Newman, master of horror as evidenced in his Anno Dracula books and stories, delivers a worthy sequel of sorts to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, featuring dazzling, powerful writing that is not only the best of its genre, its as masterfully penned a novel as in any genre.  Newman’s literary works have been studied in colleges since the 1990s, and this mash-up illustrates why–it’s a showcase of his knowledge of history, Hollywood, and writing styles that will leave you wanting even more.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first virtual reality movie?  It’s innovative and brilliant, and showed that Robert Montgomery the actor also had the talent to be a director as much a visionary as Alfred Hitchcock.  The film is his 1946 film noir Lady in the Lake, an experimental movie years ahead of its time, and much more than an adaptation of another Raymond Chandler novel featuring detective Philip Marlowe.   It’s a great story, elevated by unusual direction and a cast of actors tasked with doing something no one had quite done this way before–react and act entirely toward the audience in the place of the protagonist and the film’s point of view.

It’s about murder, and it takes place at Christmas, and the entire film from beginning to end is wrapped up in a bow like your very own Christmas present, available now to stream at Vudu, or here at Amazon on Prime Video or DVD.  If you haven’t seen it, give it a viewing this weekend and you might just see it as the next best Christmas movie of its type since Die Hard, although since it predates Die Hard by four decades you’ll want to flip that thought around.  Along with the requisite noir tropes, Lady in the Lake has visual effects and story surprises at every turn.  It’s pure cinema gold.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The first thing to know about Raymond Chandler’s 1939 novel The Big Sleep is that it was published three years after James M. Cain published the serialized Double Indemnity.  If your only knowledge of The Big Sleep is the big-screen adaptation directed by Howard Hawks starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall with a screenplay written by the likes of Leigh Brackett and William Faulkner, you should go back and read the novel to see how wrong Bogart is for the lead detective Philip Marlowe.  Both the novel and significantly modified movie version are convoluted tales of murder and mayhem, but the novel is better than the film in many ways.  Its value is in its shocking subject matter for the 1930s and being an early entrant helping to establish hardboiled crime novels as a genre.  Readers were first put inside the brain of Marlowe in this story, which reads like an effort to adapt Cain.  Chandler also was a reader of Cain’s work and along with Billy Wilder, Chandler would adapt Cain’s Double Indemnity for the screen.  Still in print, The Big Sleep is available in trade paperback here at Amazon.

Eight decades after its first publication, how does Chandler’s novel hold up?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

At long last, Johnny Alucard, Kim Newman’s sequel to 1992’s Anno Dracula, 1995’s The Bloody Red Baron, and 1998’s Dracula Cha Cha Cha is now available.  And for fans of Newman’s richly detailed universe, the first Anno Dracula universe tale in 15 years was worth the wait.  It’s a ballad of a kid born with nothing, who has a destiny, and that destiny takes him to conquer America.  And it all happens in a parallel world where Bram Stoker’s Dracula was a biography of an historical figure, and humans and vampires live side-by-side in a universe similar, yet very different, from our own.

Known for its deeply layered world building occupied by well-known fictional and historical characters with jumbled realities, this latest Anno Dracula entry doesn’t let up.  We at borg.com last year named the re-release of Dracula Cha Cha Cha the best read of 2012.  Check out our review here.  That novel followed Newman’s four protagonists as their stories collided with the death of Dracula in the 1950s.  Three women vampires are at the heart of the Anno Dracula universe: Geneviève Dieudonné, a centuries-old French vampire who watched and participated in key historic events in this timeline; Kate Reed–the most accessible of the three–a plucky Irish journalist who carries the reader through many events in Newman’s stories; and Penelope (“Penny”) Churchward, the third wheel who never quite becomes friends with the other “Charles’s Angels”.   The Charles is Charles Beauregard, a British spy all three women had relationships with over the years, and who died in Dracula Cha Cha Cha, around the time of the death of Dracula himself.

This latest installment of Newman’s series picks up with the tale of an up-and-coming vampire legend. Born Ion Popescu, Johnny Alucard was “turned” at the age of 13 in 1944.  But the story begins in 1976 when he ends up as a gofer under Francis Ford Coppola as he is agonizing over the production of, not Apocalypse Now, but his own Dracula film.  Geneviève, Kate, and Penny are back, and they have key roles in Ion’s story as he transforms himself into “Johnny Pop” and ultimately the wealthy Johnny Alucard, elevating himself higher than anyone thought possible.

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