Raymond Chandler died 50 years ago today. Rampant alcoholism, acute depression, at least one suicide attempt. The man was a mess.
But goddamn could he write.
I don't think I could say anything about him that isn't being said better by somebody else. So...
And if they're not full up (and you've got the cash and the time) you might want to consider taking a short course on Mr. Chandler's novels and films at USC (warning - PDF) conducted by Judith Freeman, author of The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler And The Woman He Loved. Starts March 31, goes on for 4 weeks.
At the very least crack open that copy of The Big Sleep or pop in the DVD. And then somebody please tell me who killed the chauffeur.