By Megan Harlan
Updated October 27, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Raymond Chandler (Library of America, two volumes, $35 each) If you wonder whether Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective style remains relevant in the ’90s, just look at the marvelous African-American interpretation of Chandler’s mannerisms in the Walter Mosley-Carl Franklin movie Devil in a Blue Dress. It embodies Chandler’s notion that ”the most durable thing in writing is style, and style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time.” If it seems peculiar and arbitrary that Chandler should be the first 20th-century genre writer to be enshrined in two volumes of the exemplary Library of America, then read the early pulp short stories (terse, exciting, existential), the letters (terse, excoriating, eloquent), and the early novels (The Big Sleep is the masterpiece), and reacquaint yourself with Chandler’s vulgar genius. A