The Great Detectives by Julian Symons & Tom Adams

A decade after painting covers for Raymond Chandler’s stories and novels, Adams teamed up with crime novelist Julian Symons. This book was written as a “Whatever Happened to…” for famous fictional detectives. Symons gains an interview with the real ‘Marlowe,’ the one Chandler fictionalised.

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Tom Adams’ covers for the works of Raymond Chandler.


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Marlowe is shown here looking like Robert Mitchum, and after reading the books, I felt that Mitchum was the best representation of the character in film. I’m glad Symons and Adams agreed. From Symons’ text:

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“What did he look like? When I saw him I understood that Chandler hadn’t been so far off the mark when he said that Cary Grant would have been the right screen Marlowe for looks, because this man had the kind of sophistication and style you associate with Grant. Yet behind that sophistication he was unmistakably tough, and he also looked rather world-weary and cynical. Robert Mitchum? Yes, if you can imagine a cross between Mitchum and Grant, that would be about right. None of the other screen portrayals came anywhere near his physical appearance. Bogart was too small, and the others were just wrong.”

The book is worth it just for the illustrations, and if you’re into the other detectives, it’s an amazing volume all around.


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