There was a desert wind blowing that night.

Opening line, Red Wind, Raymond Chandler, 1938

Dennis Aubrey at Via LucisĀ commented that his favourite opening line is this one from the short story Red Wind.

It’s somewhat relevant today with the wind howling outside my window. Not that’s it’s a desert wind. More of an inland mountain wind blowing dust over our city from the drought-stricken west, blighting our mountain view with a grey haze.

Chandler’s opening continues grimly:

“It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

Has he got your attention? Philip Marlowe, private detective, is going to a bar for a beer, but someone has to die.

Image result for "raymond chandler" "red wind"Thanks Dennis for introducing me to Philip Marlowe. I liked his references to the hot wind through the narration. ‘Outside the wind howled’; ‘… he looked cool as well as under a tension of some sort. I guessed it was the hot wind.’; ‘The wind was making enough noise to make the hard quick rap of .22 ammunition sound like a slammed door…’; ‘The wind was still blowing, oven-hot, swirling dust and torn paper up against the walls.’

Confession: after the third chapter, I couldn’t go on. Too many guns.

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46 Great Opening Lines: 35 46 Great Opening Lines: 33

  1. Trish, while this is one of the great opening lines, the greatest book by Chandler is his masterpiece, The Long Goodbye. The quintessential noir detective story and the heartbeat of Los Angeles in the 50’s. Very few guns as well.

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