Trouble Is My Business Summary & Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 42-page guide for “Trouble Is My Business” by Raymond Chandler includes detailed story summaries and analysis covering 4 stories, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Greed and The Quest for Truth.
Trouble Is My Business is a short story collection by author Raymond Chandler. The individual tales were originally published in the 1930s in various crime fiction magazines and were compiled in book form in 1950. The stories are categorized as “hard-boiled” mystery fiction.
Raymond Chandler is regarded as the quintessential author of the unsentimental, often graphic “hard-boiled” subgenre because of his distinctively elegant prose style. Aside from several short-story compilations and a handful of screenplays, Chandler wrote seven novels over the course of his life, all featuring the character of detective Philip Marlowe. Each one has become a classic of the genre. Titles include The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The High Window (1942), The Lady in the Lake (1943), The Little Sister (1949), The Long Good-Bye (1953), and Playback (1958). The Long Good-Bye won an Edgar Award as Best Novel of 1955, and all of Chandler’s books were subsequently made into films. Most notable among these is The Big Sleep (1946), starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.
All the stories in Trouble Is My Business are set in 1930s Los Angeles. The action in each takes place over the course of a few days. The one element that connects them is the main character, detective Philip Marlowe; he is the first-person narrator of each story. His description of events contains a good deal of cynical humor as well as a world-weary acceptance of the corrupt city in which he operates.
The plot of each story is driven by a job that Marlowe has been hired to do. Invariably, what starts out as a simple investigation soon results in one or more murders that Marlowe feels honor-bound to solve. The cases all foreground the themes of human greed, the difficult task of unearthing the truth in a city of lies, and the struggle to maintain a moral code while surrounded by human corruption.
In “Trouble Is My Business,” a millionaire hires Marlowe to warn away a fortune-hunter from the old man’s reckless adopted son. After the boy is shot, all evidence points to the fortune-hunter and her gambler boyfriend. However, Marlowe soon realizes that the millionaire’s insatiable greed prompted him to kill his own stepson for the boy’s inheritance.
“Finger Man” tells the tale of a failed casino owner who wants Marlowe to act as his bodyguard when he tries to cash in on a rival’s rigged roulette wheel. The casino owner is shot, and Marlowe finds himself framed for his client’s murder. This case requires Marlowe to delve deep into the greed and corruption embedded in Los Angeles city government. He not only succeeds in clearing his own name but also brings down a powerful fixer in local politics.
In “Goldfish,” Marlowe’s friend hires him to help her recover two stolen pearls. Marlowe’s quest to find the thief and the missing pearls is hampered by several other greedy individuals who want to claim the prize for themselves. Ultimately, avarice gets the better of everyone else until the only man left standing is Marlowe.
“Red Wind” begins with Marlowe innocently sitting in a neighborhood bar where a murder occurs. In the process of investigating the crime, he encounters a double-dealing blackmailer, a vengeful ex-con, a dirty cop, a mystery woman, her two-timing husband, and a missing pearl necklace. Despite the confusing motives of everyone involved, Marlowe manages to solve two murders and preserve a woman’s faith in her lost love.
All page number citations are taken from the First Vintage Crime / Black Lizard edition, August 1992.