Wednesday, January 01, 2014

***The Life And Times Of Michael Philip Marlin-Trouble Is Still My Business –Introduction To The Stories     


From The Pen Of Frank Jackman-with kudos to Raymond Chandler 

I have been on something of a Philip Marlowe run of late, mainly re-reading Raymond Chandler’s major crime novels from the 1930s and 1940s in trying to think about the work of the well-known private detective-Michael Philip Marlin. Many of Marlin’s attributes parallel those of Marlowe’s so it was beneficial to run through those novels that feature the hard- drinking, bonded whiskey-neat drinking, not that Hollywood dry martini sissy stuff, hat-wearing, rakishly tilted to hide those roving eyes when he wants them hidden, tough guy, tough enough no to be afraid to throw a punch or take one, take a slug or fire one, windmill-chasing especially if that structure has a foxy woman hanging off one of the blades, seen-it-all, acres of dope, rivers of booze, seven kinds of sex, maybe more, that would make the guy who wrote the Kama Sutra  blush, every day average day corruption and murder, murder in all shapes and sizes, none pretty private detective.

Those novels ranging from The Big Sleep to Payback (seven in all) also pretty much tell the story of Marlowe’s many bouts with the bad guys (and gals) of the world down in sunny Los Angeles before it exploded after World War II into a big time town. A time long ago when a man (or woman) could know that city, that slumming city and its high and low life without a map. That had been Marlin’s time and place as well. Those novels also developed Marlowe’s trademark approaches to things, his forever chasing after some rough justice in this wicked old world, his fly-by-the-seat-of-the pants code of honor that sometimes went awry on him, usually when helping a dame (twist, frail frill, chick, femme whatever they were called in your neighborhood), a dame in trouble usually but not always, always playing by his own rules though, and not afraid to take a bump or two, or a slug or two, for a client.  

What a lot of people didn't know, including if you can believe this, Raymond Chandler, since he passed away in 1959 before he could have heard the news when it became public was that Michael Philip Marlin got married, married to Fiona Fallon, one of his flames from a caper back in the late 1940s, secretly married, well, not secretly so much as quietly since any wife of his would be in some danger from bad guys (or maybe an irate ex-flame) if that knowledge was widely available on those steamy Southern California streets. And that marriage produced a child, a male child, Tyrone, born in 1946, whom Marlin took on his knee when he was young and told stories to about old Los Angeles and the characters that ran amok there.  Marlin passed away in 1976 having retired from the gumshoe business some years before. Shortly thereafter Tyrone started his own private eye business which he named the Tyrone Agency not trading in on his father’s famous name for obvious reasons.

Joshua Lawrence Breslin, a free-lance journalist out there in the west and a friend of my old friend Peter Paul Markin, had to do some business with Tyrone in the early 1980s, which he handled well, and they struck up something of a friendship, meeting every once in a while over drinks, whiskey, high-shelf bonded whiskey –neat, no that sissy Hollywood dry martini stuff, and he would tell Joshua stories that his father had told him about the old days in wild LA. He also told Joshua about some of his own closed cases where some of what his father had spoken of to him helped him crack more than one case.

Joshua conveyed many of those same stories to Markin over many a flask at their favorite watering hole in Boston, Rick’s, who subsequently told many of them to me. I suggested to Markin that I might like to relate those stories to a wider audience. At first Tyrone bucked a little when Joshua made the suggestion since many of the old stories had already been published. Tyrone then suggested that if I changed up the stories enough and kept his father’s name out of it that it might work, work legally and work to keep the Michael Philip Marlin code of honor before a new reading public. Through negotiation Tyrone finally relented on the use of his father’s name since that would draw the audience I was interested in reaching. The stories below, in no particular order, are the result of those discussions between Tyrone and Joshua - with kudos to Raymond Chandler, and, well, Philip Marlowe too.


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