Derace Kingsley's wife ran away to Mexico to get a quickie divorce and marry a Casanova-wannabe named Chris Lavery. Or so the note she left her husband insisted. Trouble is, when Philip Marlowe asks Lavery about it, he denies everything and sends the private investigator packing with a flea lodged firmly in his ear.

But when Marlowe next encounters Lavery, he's denying nothing - on account of the two bullet holes in his heart. Now Marlowe's on the trail of a killer, who leads him out of smoggy LA and all the way to a murky mountain lake.

Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888 and moved to England with his family when he was twelve. He attended Dulwich College, Alma Mater to some of the twentieth century's most renowned writers. Returning to America in 1912, he settled in California, worked in a number of jobs, and later married.

It was during the Depression era that he seriously turned his hand to writing and his first published story appeared in the pulp magazine Black Mask in 1933, followed six years later by his first novel. The Big Sleep introduced the world to Philip Marlowe, the often imitated but never-bettered hard-boiled private investigator.

It is in Marlowe's long shadow that every fictional detective must stand - and under the influence of Raymond Chandler's addictive prose that every crime author must write.