Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep

""With the pile of bodies mounting up, it can be safe to say that L.A. in the 1930s was a tough town to live in!""


Los Angeles Private Investigator Philip Marlowe is hired by wheelchair-bound General Sternwood to discover who is blackmailing him. A broken, weary old man, Sternwood just wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. However, 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.

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It has been some years since I read this and it is funny how one comes back to a book and sees things entirely different with a few years tucked under ones belt! What stood out for me was how Marlowe stumbles from one situation after another in what seem to be a series of Noir vignettes. Plus, I did wonder how Marlowe was still standing having consumed so much alcohol in such a small space of time! With the pile of bodies mounting up, it can be safe to say that L.A. in the 1930s was a tough town to live in! Chandler came from the pool of pulp writers who were big in their day, pushing out books in a matter of days and weeks under different pseudonyms. Chandler confessed to not being the greatest plotter, but kind of just went with the flow which is how 'The Big Sleep' feels like a Virginia Woolf stream of consciousness, but with guns. Despite this, there is something nostalgic and gripping about Marlowe's constant scrapes and how he gets out of them. Marlowe's entrance into the crime fiction hall of fame can raise questions without answers such as the infamous one about who killed the chauffeur, but as with Marlowe, best not ask too many questions. I am not going to argue about this being a classic, but it won't be for everyone, although Chandler certainly brings his detective alive in this tale where nobody is quite the full ticket!

Reviewed By:

Chris Simmons