The Big Sleep (1939) is a hardboiled crime novel by Raymond Chandler, the first in his acclaimed series about detective Philip Marlowe. The work has been adapted twice into film, once in 1946 and again in 1978.
The story is noted for its complexity, with many characters double-crossing each other and many secrets being exposed throughout the narrative. The title is a euphemism for death; it refers to a rumination in the book about "sleeping the big sleep". (wikipedia.org)
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About the Author
Raymond Thornton Chandler (1888 - 1959) was the master practitioner of American hard-boiled crime fiction. Although he was born in Chicago, Chandler spent most of his boyhood and youth in England where he attended Dulwich College and later worked as a freelance journalist for The Westminster Gazette and The Spectator. During World War I, Chandler served in France with the First Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, transferring later to the Royal Flying Corps (R. A. F.). In 1919 he returned to the United States, settling in California, where he eventually became director of a number of independent oil companies. The Depression put an end to his career, and in 1933, at the age of forty-five, he turned to writing fiction, publishing his first stories in Black Mask. Chandler’s detective stories often starred the brash but honorable Philip Marlowe (introduced in 1939 in his first novel, The Big Sleep) and were noted for their literate presentation and dead-on critical eye. Never a prolific writer, Chandler published only one collection of stories and seven novels in his lifetime. Some of Chandler’s novels, like The Big Sleep, were made into classic movies which helped define the film noir style. In the last year of his life he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died in La Jolla, California on March 26, 1959.
Date of Birth:July 23, 1888
Date of Death:March 26, 1959
Place of Birth:Chicago Illinois
Place of Death:La Jolla, California
Education:Educated in England, France, and Germany
Read an Excerpt
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
The main hallway of the Sternwood place was two stories high. Over the entrance doors, which would have let in a troop of Indian elephants, there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn't have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling with the knots on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn't seem to be really trying.
There were French doors at the back of the hall, beyond them a wide sweep of emerald grass to a white garage, in front of which a slim dark young chauffeur in shiny black leggings was dusting a maroon Packard convertible. Beyond the garage were some decorative trees trimmed as carefully as poodle dogs. Beyond them a large greenhouse with a domed roof. Then more trees and beyond everything the solid, uneven, comfortable line of the foothills.
On the east side of the hall a free staircase, tile-paved, rose to a gallery with a wrought-iron railing and another piece of stained-glass romance. Large hard chairs with rounded red plush seats were backed into the vacant spaces of the wall round about. They didn't look as if anybody had ever sat in them. In the middle of the west wall there was a big empty fireplace with a brass screen in four hinged panels, and over the fireplace a marble mantel with cupids at the corners. Above the mantel there was a large oil portrait, and above the portrait two bullet-torn or moth-eaten cavalry pennants crossed in a glass frame. The portrait was a stiffly posed job of an officer in full regimentals of about the time of the Mexican war. The officer had a neat black imperial, black mustachios, hot hard coal-black eyes, and the general look of a man it would pay to get along with. I thought this might be General Sternwood's grandfather. It could hardly be the General himself, even though I had heard he was pretty far gone in years to have a couple of daughters still in the dangerous twenties.
I was still staring at the hot black eyes when a door opened far back under the stairs. It wasn't the butler coming back. It was a girl.
She was twenty or so, small and delicately put together, but she looked durable. She wore pale blue slacks and they looked well on her. She walked as if she were floating. Her hair was a fine tawny wave cut much shorter than the current fashion of pageboy tresses curled in at the bottom. Her eyes were slate-gray, and had almost no expression when they looked at me. She came over near me and smiled with her mouth and she had little sharp predatory teeth, as white as fresh orange pith and as shiny as porcelain. They glistened between her thin too taut lips. Her face lacked color and didn't look too healthy.
"Tall, aren't you?" she said.
"I didn't mean to be."
Her eyes rounded. She was puzzled. She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her.
"Handsome too," she said. "And I bet you know it."
"What's your name?"
"Reilly," I said. "Doghouse Reilly."
"That's a funny name." She bit her lip and turned her head a little and looked at me along her eyes. Then she lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theater curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air.
"Are you a prizefighter?" she asked, when I didn't.
"Not exactly. I'm a sleuth."
"Aa" She tossed her head angrily, and the rich color of it glistened in the rather dim light of the big hall. "You're making fun of me."
"Get on with you," I said. "You heard me."
"You didn't say anything. You're just a big tease." She put a thumb up and bit it. It was a curiously shaped thumb, thin and narrow like an extra finger, with no curve in the first joint. She bit it and sucked it slowly, turning it around in her mouth like a baby with a comforter.
"You're awfully tall," she said. Then she giggled with secret merriment. Then she turned her body slowly and lithely, without lifting her feet. Her hands dropped limp at her sides. She tilted herself towards me on her toes. She fell straight back into my arms. I had to catch her or let her crack her head on the tessellated floor. I caught her under her arms and she went rubber-legged on me instantly. I had to hold her close to hold her up. When her bead was against my chest she screwed it around and giggled at me.
"You're cute," she giggled. "I'm cute too."
I didn't say anything. So the butler chose that convenient moment to come back through the French doors and see me holding her.
It didn't seem to bother him. He was a tall, thin, silver man, sixty or close to it or a little past it. He had blue eyes as remote as eyes could be. His skin was smooth and bright and he moved like a man with very sound muscles. He walked slowly across the floor towards us and the girl jerked away from me. She flashed across the room to the foot of the stairs and went up them like a deer. She was gone before I could draw a long breath and let it out.
The butler said tonelessly: "The General will see you now, Mr. Marlowe."
I pushed my lower jaw up off my chest and nodded at him. "Who was that?"
"Miss Carmen Sternwood, sir."
"You ought to wean her. She looks old enough."
He looked at me with grave politeness and repeated what he had said.
We went out at the French doors and along a smooth red-flagged path that skirted the far side of the lawn from the garage. The boyish-looking chauffeur had a big black and chromium sedan out now and was dusting that. The path took us along to the side of the greenhouse and the butler opened a door for me and stood aside. It opened into a sort of vestibule that was about as warm as a slow oven. He came in after me, shut the outer door, opened an inner door and we went through that. Then it was really hot. The air was thick, wet, steamy and larded with the cloying smell of tropical orchids in bloom. The glass walls and roof were heavily misted and big drops of moisture splashed down on the plants. The light had an unreal greenish color, like light filtered through an aquarium tank. The plants filled the place, a forest of them, with nasty meaty leaves and stalks like the newly washed fingers of dead men. They smelled as overpowering as boiling alcohol under a blanket.
The butler did his best to get me through without being smacked in the face by the sodden leaves, and after a while we came to a clearing in the middle of the jungle, under the domed roof. Here, in a space of hexagonal flags, an old red Turkish rug was laid down and on the rug was a wheel chair, and in the wheel chair an old and obviously dying man watched us come with black eyes from which all fire had died long ago, but which still had the coal-black directness of the eyes in the portrait that hung above the mantel in the hall. The rest of his face was a leaden mask, with the bloodless lips and the sharp nose and the sunken temples and the outward-turning earlobes of approaching dissolution. His long narrow body was wrappedin that heatin a traveling rug and a faded red bathrobe. His thin clawlike hands were folded loosely on the rug, purple-nailed. A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock.
The butler stood in front of him and said: "This is Mr. Marlowe, General."
The old man didn't move or speak, or even nod. He just looked at me lifelessly. The butler pushed a damp wicker chair against the backs of my legs and I sat down. He took my hat with a deft scoop.
Then the old man dragged his voice up from the bottom of a well and said: "Brandy, Norris. How do you like your brandy, sir?"
"Any way at all," I said.
The butler went away among the abominable plants. The General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work show-girl uses her last good pair of stockings.
"I used to like mine with champagne. The champagne as cold as Valley Forge and about a third of a glass of brandy beneath it. You may take your coat off, sir. It's too hot in here for a man with blood in his veins."
I stood up and peeled off my coat and got a handkerchief out and mopped my face and neck and the backs of my wrists. St. Louis in August had nothing on that place. I sat down again and I felt automatically for a cigarette and then stopped. The old man caught the gesture and smiled faintly.
"You may smoke, sir. I like the smell of tobacco."
I lit the cigarette and blew a lungful at him and he sniffed at it like a terrier at a rathole. The faint smile pulled at the shadowed corners of his mouth.
"A nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy," he said dryly. "You are looking at a very dull survival of a rather gaudy life, a cripple paralyzed in both legs and with only half of his lower belly. There's very little that I can eat and my sleep is so close to waking that it is hardly worth the name. I seem to exist largely on heat, like a newborn spider, and the orchids are an excuse for the heat. Do you like orchids?"
"Not particularly," I said.
The General half-closed his eyes. "They are nasty things. Their flesh is too much like the flesh of men. And their perfume has the rotten sweetness of a prostitute."
I stared at him with my mouth open. The soft wet heat was like a pall around us. The old man nodded, as if his neck was afraid of the weight of his head. Then the butler came pushing back through the jungle with a teawagon, mixed me a brandy and soda, swathed the copper ice bucket with a damp napkin, and went away softly among the orchids. A door opened and shut behind the jungle.
I sipped the drink. The old man licked his lips watching me, over and over again, drawing one lip slowly across the other with a funeral absorption, like an undertaker dry-washing his hands.
"Tell me about yourself, Mr. Marlowe. I suppose I have a right to ask?"
"Sure, but there's very little to tell. I'm thirty-three years old, went to college once and can still speak English if there's any demand for it. There isn't much in my trade. I worked for Mr. Wilde, the District Attorney, as an investigator once. His chief investigator, a man named Bernie Ohls, called me and told me you wanted to see me. I'm unmarried because I don't like policemen's wives."
"And a little bit of a cynic," the old man smiled. "You didn't like working for Wilde?"
"I was fired. For insubordination. I test very high on insubordination, General."
"I always did myself, sir. I'm glad to hear it. What do you know about my family?"
"I'm told you are a widower and have two young daughters, both pretty and both wild. One of them has been married three times, the last time to an ex-bootlegger who went in the trade by the name of Rusty Regan. That's all I heard, General."
"Did any of it strike you as peculiar?"
"The Rusty Regan part, maybe. But I always got along with bootleggers myself."
He smiled his faint economical smile. "It seems I do too. I'm very fond of Rusty. A big curly-headed Irishman from Clonmel, with sad eyes and a smile as wide as Wilshire Boulevard. The first time I saw him I thought he might be what you are probably thinking he was, an adventurer who happened to get himself wrapped up in some velvet."
"You must have liked him," I said. "You learned to talk the language."
He put his thin bloodless hands under the edge of the rug. I put my cigarette stub out and finished my drink.
"He was the breath of life to mewhile he lasted. He spent hours with me, sweating like a pig, drinking brandy by the quart and telling me stories of the Irish revolution. He had been an officer in the I.R.A. He wasn't even legally in the United States. It was a ridiculous marriage of course, and it probably didn't last a month, as a marriage. I'm telling you the family secrets, Mr. Marlowe."
"They're still secrets," I said. "What happened to him?"
The old man looked at me woodenly. "He went away, a month ago. Abruptly, without a word to anyone. Without saying good-bye to me. That hurt a little, but he had been raised in a rough school. I'll hear from him one of these days. Meantime I am being blackmailed again."
What People are Saying About This
"Raymond Chandler is a master." The New York Times
“[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.” The New Yorker
“Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious.” Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review
“Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye.” Los Angeles Times
“Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner. . . . An original. . . . A great artist.” —The Boston Book Review
“Raymond Chandler was one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century. . . . Age does not wither Chandler’s prose. . . . He wrote like an angel.” Literary Review
“[T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision.” Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” —Ross Macdonald
“Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude.” Erle Stanley Gardner
“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.” Paul Auster
“[Chandler]’s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that’s like ours, but isn’t. ” Carolyn See
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
My biggest gripe with this edition is that it has numerous printing errors -- misspellings, wrong punctuation (e.g. missing quotation marks), a blank page (but with header and footer), and paragraphs that end or begin mid-sentence. Even the back cover has the word "availible" on it. I would recommend prospective buyers to buy another edition.
I liked this book, but I didn't love this book. At first I was amused by the pervasive metaphors and similes. I was even quite fond of the one in the middle of chapter eight: Dead men are heavier than broken hearts. But after a while, I found myself wading through them, and then swimming in them, and finally drowning from them. (See? I can do it, too.) They made the narration feel like it was escaping through the side of the mouth, past a gasper. I've never practiced legerdemain, but I do know misdirection when I see it. If you take away the picturesque phrases and the gritty narration, you are left with an adequate, maybe even a good, but not a brilliant story.
Nobody understood hardboiled language better than Chandler. Some of his sentences are blatantly bad in terms of grammar, but who really cares? I noticed someone mentioned the different ways of looking at the world. I imagine they are talking about the view of women and minorities. What the heck do you expect? Everyone's attitudes were different back then. Do we judge Greek plays for their atavistic features? No. Don't worry about stuff like that and I promise you you'll actually live longer! As for The Big Sleep, the one thing that has always sort of bothered me about Raymond Chandler books is that the mysteries don't quite add up. In The Big Sleep, there are actually murders that go unaccounted for. It makes it seem as though it was easy to shoot someone back in old L.A. Tht just wasn't true. Nevertheless, this is an entertaining read, like all of Chandler's books. Highly recommended.
It is an easy read, that keeps your attention. Perfect for late night in the Summer when you wish to escape in a good read.
Raymond Chandler¿s The Big Sleep is an excellent detective novel. It centers on the escapades of Phillip Marlowe, a cynical private investigator with a cool head. Marlowe is hired at first to quash a straightforward blackmail threat, but he becomes entangled in a much more complex plot. Chandler lays out a riveting story of twists and turns much of the success of the novel, however, is due not to the plot, but in Chandler¿s enchanting hardboiled style. The dark 1930s Los Angeles underground that the author paints is the perfect arena for Marlowe¿s hardened street smarts to shine. Chandler¿s world is one of shady characters and little innocence, and Marlowe¿s hide continually relies on the quickness of his wits and a little bit of luck. Luckily, Marlowe¿s wits are considerable, because immediately upon taking a case from old General Sternwood, he is plunged into dangerous caper after caper. The action is gripping and sudden the writing is terse and witty. Marlowe, the story¿s narrator, comes off as a skilled veteran of too many alley fights to wear much of a smile. He has good intentions, but he is cold and world-weary. Many of the characters of the story are similar: weathered citizens of the underground. The emotional, in Marlowe¿s world, are for the most part, amateurs. They are also the largest perpetrators of errors in judgment. The professionals all seem to have seen enough to know that there is little worth getting excited about in their world. Much of the success of the novel is owed to the mood that Chandler is able to paint. The quick-thinking detective must navigate the shady underworld in classic fashion. Meanwhile, the plot develops at a quick pace. It thickens into seemingly endless complexities, but never loses its hold on the reader. The novel somehow manages to have a meticulous plot development with fast paced action. Marlowe troops fearlessly through the California streets, piecing together mystery solutions through use of both brawn and brain. Marlowe is unafraid of asking questions at gunpoint, or answering at same. The story is captivatingly told from his point of view the seemingly mundane is interesting, and the interesting is shockingly routine from his level-headed perspective. Marlowe¿s character allows the novel to develop into an excellent, hardboiled mystery tale.
Raymond Chandler, the author, is the definitive writer of the detective genre. His wise-cracking, earthy detective Philip Marlowe constantly sticks his nose into dangerous places, sometimes catching the far end of a swinging fist for his troubles. And trouble is a euphemism for his working life. His books led to the creation of several famous films with Humphrey Bogart playing Marlowe. But having seen the movies, there is no comparison to the quality of Chandler's original prose. Here are a few witty samples full of imagery from his books: 'I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it.' 'I was as empty of life as a scarecrow's pockets.' '... he looked as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food.' 'He looked as nervous as a brick wall.' Chandler's stories move fast and contain a lot of action, just like his protagonist. Marlowe's character is a bit of a blue-collar cynic, an occasional ladies' man, a rebel, and a steadfast (but sometimes puzzlingly) honest man. Marlowe is just an average guy who just happens to solve cases involving the rich and beautiful (and their dirty little secrets) in mid-twentieth century LA. And I suppose Marlowe's fast-talking, action-oriented character is one most of us average guys could identify with, which accounts for the success of his books. I thoroughly enjoyed this book - I don't usually like reading fiction - and highly recommend it. Chandler really is a pleasure to read. Why couldn't we have read something like this just once in my high school English lit classes!?
It was just ok
I don't understand why this book has a relatively good review. To me, it is very poorly constructed and very boring, strange events, make me feel the whole story is cramped in a very limited space. There is nothing in terms of story telling, logical, conspiracy, ...., everything happens without any reason. The author may want to show he/she has inside knowledge about the special languages used in that special circle, but comparing to another book I read, "The Force" by Don Winslow, this is also poor. ......... I am now just through the half, a little over 100 pages, so unless there is miracle happens in the 2nd half, I will still give it one star.
Even if you see both movies the book fills in the gaps.
This ranks alongside the Maltese Falcon as the greatest hard-boiled detective story ever written. Snappy, but intelligent, dialogue, great characterisation and a complex plot. Read it.
Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep, first published in 1939, is one of the more influential works in the modern mystery genre, and my first real foray into hardboiled crime fiction. I listened to this on audiobook read by Elliott Gould and enjoyed his narration very much. His reading emphasizes a charming innocence about the book; despite the explicit events of the plot, Chandler uses a blank for the F word, which becomes quite noticeable when you're listening to it rather than reading silently. I don't know why but I found this endearing somehow. I wonder if it says something unexpected about a genre known for its gritty plots and complex, conflicted characters. Hmm.The back cover touts Chandler's prose as "muscular" and I think that is the perfect description. It isn't graceful or elegant, and sometimes it's repetitive and too heavily laden with similes. But the similes are vivid and create a very distinct mood: dark, watchful, stoic. Detached.One idea I found striking is the underlying theme that all people are pretty much morally bankrupt, that everyone is either a monster or a victim, and all of us have made ethical compromises along the way. To put it another way, we all have ulterior motives and are on a downward spiral. This unrelenting cynicism is the Christian doctrine of the depravity of man, but without the hope of redemption. There are a few halfway-heroes in the story like Harry Jones and Mona Grant, little points of light on a dark noir background. But they are swallowed up quickly and we're alone in the dark again.Chandler describes the physical appearance of his characters in detail, but sometimes there is a lack of description I found tantalizing. For example, he presents the narrator Philip Marlowe as enigmatic, capable, cold, with never a hint of how the character became that way. What's his history? Often Marlowe gives a straight, emotionless description of a shocking event, completely leaving out any commentary on his personal response to the scene. He's like a machine, efficient and calculating. But he seems to do the right thing most of the time and it's hard to dislike him ¿ the little we know of him, anyways.Because Marlowe narrates the story, we see all the other characters through his eyes. The allegations of misogyny directed at this book and others like it aren't entirely baseless. The women are all described elaborately in terms of their physical appearance and sex appeal; that is their primary identity, at least to Marlowe. Of the four female characters in this story, two are reprehensibly selfish and/or crazy, one is a rather pathetic opportunist, and the last is weak and willfully blind to the sins of her husband. No, they don't fare well, but no one really does in the noir world.Apparently The Big Sleep is just the first in a series featuring Philip Marlowe, and I think I'll look up the sequels. This is definitely not a genre for younger readers; the content, though not raunchy, can be somewhat explicit at times, and the events of the plot aren't G-rated. But for an excursion into a tone and style completely different from my usual reading and as an example of its genre, The Big Sleep is excellent. And there is a strange magnetism to the hopeless darkness of Marlowe's world. Maybe I want to keep reading to find out if redemption is ever possible; maybe I just want to know more about Marlowe's back story. In any case, this was a strong read and I can see why it has been so foundational to today's detective fiction.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler is a 20th century American classic. Chandler's gritty look into his 1940's private-eye world of Los Angeles feels as real as the cold, hard October rain coming down on Philip Marlowe's face.The novel's voice and tone are spot-on and you'll be completely immersed. I found myself seeing my own life through the eyes of Marlowe while reading. The narrative is even and believable though I thought it somewhat complicated on the first reading.I listened to the audiobook version, read by Elliot Gould, which I felt was the perfect choice.
A classic hard-boiled detective, Marlowe, is hired by a military man to deal with a blackmailer. The General's two daughters, Carmen and Vivian, drive the story. One is a lost soul, constantly getting into trouble; the other is a master manipulator. There's a twisted plot that becomes more complicated as the dead bodies pile up. I preferred The Maltese Falcon (Humphrey Bogart plays the detective in the film versions of both books) to The Big Sleep. It came out about a decade earlier and I felt more connected to the story and to the detective, Sam Spade. The Big Sleep was an enjoyable read, but it won't stick with me. There were too many jumbled characters, but I do love the noir atmosphere. I recently heard that The Big Lebowski is loosely based on The Big Sleep. I never would have made that connection, but it does have a similar structure.
First of all, I will admit I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of detective or ¿who-dun-it¿ genre fiction. If I thought really, really hard, I might come up with five or seven ¿ absolute tops ¿ titles I have read. This was a selection of a member of my book club, and I am glad it only took me a day to read it. I was antsy at the interruption in reading for my next review.This novel is the ¿Adam and Eve¿ of every cliché in every detective novel or film noir of the 30s and 40s I have ever heard, read, or seen. I do like those old Marlowe movies with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. My wife and I are going to watch the film version of this novel tomorrow night.I also have to admit the story had some level of interest, but it was cheesy. Do detectives and police officers and crooks really talk like that? ¿Her smile was as wide as Wilshire Boulevard¿ (10) and ¿The calves were beautiful, the ankles long and slim and with enough melodic line for a tone poem¿ (17) and ¿Hold me close you beast¿ (150). And what¿s with the ¿okey¿? Chandler also seems to have a thread of homophobia in the novel. He did attend British schools from the age of 12.The one thing that never left my mind while reading Chandler was the film, ¿Dead Men Don¿t Wear Plaid,¿ a paean to film noir that recaptures every cliché in scenes strung together from a dozen film noir classics and all hung on a story starring Steve Martin. I love that film!Okay, alright, I liked it. But to paraphrase Miles (Paul Giamatti in ¿Sideways¿), ¿I will not read any more detective who-dun-its!¿ Four stars --Jim, 6/29/10
What a cool classic. After finishing "A Bright and Guilty Place", I went out and got this one from the Library immediately... Well worth it - gritty and engaging.
I read this because I realized that I had never read any Raymond Chandler, and that seemed to be a lacunae in my reading. It's a classic, and deservedly so. The writing and authorial voice are crisp, distinct, and even though they have been copied so often, still sharply original. I can only imagine what reading this was like before "everybody" wrote like this.I did not like the characters, or the world portrayed. There was no one nice, or kind, or concerned with anyone other than him- or herself. This is, of course, part of what makes this noir. I was also unpleasantly surprised by the casual racist, sexist and homophobic content. I'm not sure how much of that is a reflection or the gritty, underworld setting, or of the time in which it is set.My strongest objecton to the plot, is that this isn't really a mystery, per se. There are no clues that lead to a solution. There is a case, a detective, a series of colorful incidents, and a solution. However, this is true of more mysteries than not, I sometimes think, so it's hardly a disqualifying characteristic.Overall, I recommend it, but I won't be re-reading it. I will, however, be adding more Chandler to my reading ilst.
An old and frail oil tycoon with two wayward daughters seeks the help of a private detective to look into a blackmailing situation. What follows are a couple of murders and disappearances which are in some way connected with the two daughters. The private detective with his wit and charm gets through the tight spots and solve the crimes including the murder of the son in law.The book has a 'film noir' and 'femme fatale' feel to it. The plot is intricate and gripping. The only thing I object to is the American consumerist approach. You feel that the author is constantly selling you the sights and sounds of the country, trying to lure you. Thanks but no thanks.
St. Barth trip Book #5: I enjoyed this very much....in the vein of Dashiell Hammett....a good-ole private eye/sultry women/murder mystery.....Phillip Marlowe is a great character....even more honest that the Hammett characters tend to be......just a lot of fun....and oddly this is the only Chandler i currently have, but i intend to correct that! And can somebody please tell me why my cover seems to imply the death of a woman, possibly by venus fly-trap??? I seldom understand how these covers are chosen, especially for known works such as this!
I don't think I've ever read a crime novel that would be considered "noir", although I've seen quite a few of them made into movies. I really enjoyed this story, although it really took my concentration to follow along with the plot at times. It seems convoluted but it all works together in the end and there really aren't any of the contrived or coincidental happenings that take place in most mystery novels. Loved the raw-edged and witty interplay between characters. Philip Marlowe puts on a tough front, but he often reveals himself to be honorable and sensitive. I'll definitely be reading more of Chandler's books.
I love Raymond Chandler's writing style. This book was written in 1939, and has the feel of the depression era after prohibition, with illegal gambling joints and gangsters. His writing is very cynical and humorous in it's way and very descriptive without being too wordy.Philip Marlowe is a private detective hired by a rich old man to investigate a guy trying to blackmail him because of his youngest daughter's debts. The old man has two daughters, in their twenties, and both are trouble and obnoxious. As Marlowe investigates he runs into ex-bootleggers, mobsters, murderers and all kinds of people working in illegal trade. The story is involved and when you think it's over there is more.The quote from the back of the book explains it well:"Chandler did not write about crime, or detection--as he insisted he did not. He wrote about the corruption of the human spirit, using Philip Marlowe as his disapproving angel, and he knew about it down to the marrow."--George V. Higgins
Classic detective story with action, suspense and excellent prose in all the right areas. It's honest, romantic, bitter, and violent.
This is a book that was made into a movie, which starred Humphrey Bogart. This, like The Maltese Falcon, are examples are film noire. And both novels feature a private investigator as the main character. I like the writing style of Raymond Chandler better than Dashiell Hammett. The description of scenery and characters comes alive in The Big Sleep. The sexual tension simmers throughout the story. The main character, Philip Marlowe, fights off the sexual advances of three women and wrestles with the "tough guy" front of several men. The story centers on Marlowe landing the job of aiding the old and paraplegic General Sternwood in handling his two wayward daughters. This gig exposes Marlowe to the world of gambling, bootlegging, pornography, and murder. As with Hammett, the setting is California with the steady flow of rain and fog to enhance the mood. I look forward to reading other books on Philip Marlowe's investigations.
The first time I read it, I read up to 50 pages and stopped because I knew my mind wasn't entirely on the book. This is alright for some books with simple plots, but The Big Sleep turned out to have several subplots underlying the main one. I'm glad I decided to choose another leisure reading book to read at school while I read this one at home starting from the beginning. If I had done otherwise, I would have been completely lost which would have been easy for me seeing as there are so many characters and such intricate plots that all tie together in the end. If you're like me and you've read a good chunk of the book and you don't get what's going on, keep a character list. Even if I wasn't reading this book for my California Fiction class, I know I would have made a list eventually.Overall, this book was fun to follow. The protagonist, Philip Marlowe, is a cynical detective who only allows you to see what he wants you to see until he's revealed the bigger picture in the end. This is what is so great about detective novels: the detective is always examining the setting, always able to examine the little evidence he has to work with and put the pieces of the puzzle together as the novel progresses, careful not to spoil any big points for you so you can be surprised in the end.
It's funny, every time you see an old gangster/private eye movie from the 40s with the fast talking and the crisp dialogue, it seems dated and kind of a parody... and then you read Chandler and you say, "oh yeah, it IS all a parody... a parody of the guy who invented it." It's like reading Tolkien and then reading all the fantasy lit that came after it... it's all fun, but nothing will compare to the original.
This was a good mystery novel. It is set in the 1930s and there is A LOT of jargon that must have been common to the period, but it was way too much for me. As far as the story goes, it is about a private detective Philip Marlowe who gets asked by a dyiing billionare to help him with a blackmailer of one of his two crazy daughters. Marlowe slowly gets caught up in more than he bargained for when bodies start dropping around him. The twist at the end was good and unforseen, but for the most part, there seemed to be too many characters to keep strait especially when they were all talking weird lingo that I didn't understand.