"His thin, claw-like hands were folded loosely on the rug, purple-nailed. A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock." Published in 1939, when Raymond Chandler was 50, this is the first of the Philip Marlowe novels. Its bursts of sex, violence, and explosively direct prose changed detective fiction forever. "She was trouble. She was tall and rangy and strong-looking. Her hair was black and wiry and parted in the middle. She had a good mouth and a good chin. There was a sulky droop to her lips and the lower lip was full."
'Nuff said. Raymond Chandler was at the top of his form (in my opinion) when he penned this tale. While the Phillip Marlowe tales that followed were wonderfully exquisite as well, they all paled in comparison to the original. Should be on the top 100 books to read in your lifetime.