“The Lady in the Lake” by Raymond Chandler has been selected as the featured book for the 2012 Santa Monica Citywide Reads program.

Citywide Reads is a community reading program that invites the public to read and discuss the same novel in book clubs and other events held around Santa Monica. 2012 marks the program’s 10th anniversary and only the second time that a deceased author has been featured, following Christopher Isherwood in 2004.

“The Lady in the Lake” was first published in 1943 and was hailed by Time magazine as “an astringent, hard-bitten, expertly constructed and convincingly characterized story.”

The novel follows the hard-nosed detective Phillip Marlowe, who is investigating the disappearance of a doctor’s wife, and the mystery gets more tangled and complex with every turn of the page, a Citywide Reads spokesperson said. Set partially in “Bay City,” Chandler’s stand-in for Santa Monica, “The Lady in the Lake” is unusual for the author in that it also takes Marlowe outside of his standard beat of Los Angeles, the spokesperson said.

Santa Monica Citywide Reads selection committee members said they selected the novel because it is a solid representation of Chandler’s vivid writing style, a favorite amongst seasoned readers of noir, and a welcoming introduction for those who may not be familiar with Chandler’s work.

The novel was also a popular choice among library patrons who answered an online poll asking which Chandler book Santa Monica should read together.

Citywide Reads will begin in late February 2012 and continue through March. The program will feature free public book discussion groups led by volunteer facilitators and held in libraries, bookstores, coffeehouses, and other venues.

Special events are also being planned, including a slate of best-selling contemporary mystery authors influenced by Chandler, local history programs, and film noir movie screenings.

Information, (310) 458-8600, or http://smpl.org/Citywide_Reads.aspx.