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by Steven Voien AYW A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0-679-44072-4 287 pp., $23-00
The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.
--Albert Einstein, 1930
I've been hooked on mystery books ever since my mother told me about the night Raymond Chandler came to dinner. It all took place back in the early forties, when her father brought home the famous author who had popularized the hard boiled detective genre with novels katuring private eye Philip Marlowe. Mom, her parents, and her younger sister were living in Los Angeles at the time, they had moved there from Georgia after Grandfather had landed a contract with Paramount based on the success of the romantic short stories he wrote for the Saturday Evening Post
Like the rest of the studio's contract writers, Grandfather was assigned a tiny office on the lot. Chandler was ensconced next door, struggling to adapt James M. Cains crime epic, Double Indemnity, into a screenplay; his own hit book, The …