- Format: Kindle (Amazon)
- File Size: 311 KB
- Print Length: 177 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1604445181
- Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (July 7, 2005)
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B002RI9AH2
- originally published 1939
The Big Sleep is Raymond Chandler's most famous and popular novel of all
Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out - and that's before he stumbles over the first corpse . . .
It is probably highly improper for a crime fiction addict to admit in public that she has never read any Raymond Chandler, or at least I don't think I have. Of course, I have heard of Philip Marlowe, the P.I. that Chandler created, the model for many P.Is for future generations of writers.
And so why hadn't I read THE BIG SLEEP before now? Probably because American noir has not really been my genre of choice, because I mainly read British, Australian, and translated crime fiction.
I can see how the gun-packing Marlowe is very different to sleuths created in Europe at approximately the same time. Poirot, Marple, and Maigret are altogether more cerebral with blood and guns rarely sighted. Many modern American sleuths are really just more modern versions of Marlowe, solving more modern murders.
To be quite honest though, I didn't find THE BIG SLEEP as captivating as I had expected. It felt a bit dated, although Chandler is a good model for characterisation and descriptive prose. It probably still should be regarded as essential reading for crime fiction students, especially those who are interested in the history of the genre. But then again I have managed pretty well without, haven't I?
My rating: 4.2
Philip Marlowe (Fantastic Fiction)
1. The Big Sleep (1939)
2. Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
3. The High Window (1942)
4. The Lady in the Lake (1943)
5. The Little Sister (1949)
6. The Long Goodbye (1953)
7. Playback (1958)
8. Poodle Springs (1989) (with Robert B Parker)
The Simple Art of Murder (1950)