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The Big Sleep (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) Paperback – July 12, 1988
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"The Big Sleep" finds Marlowe in the employ of General Sternwood, a wealthy but dying oil tycoon. Sternwood wants Marlowe to track down a blackmailer who is trying to bleed some money out of the old general. The problem is Sternwood's two daughters, Carmen and Vivian. Both women have major problems; Carmen is just plain weird, suffering from seizures and a penchant for sleeping around with scum of the earth types. Vivian is not much better; she is a heavy gambler who dates (and marries) mob types. In the course of working the case, Marlowe uncovers underground pornography shops, blackmailers, gambling dens, a couple of murders, and other seedy events in the growing town of Los Angeles. Like other Chandler novels, what we initially see is hardly the whole enchilada. While working the case, Marlowe stumbles on deeper and deeper mysteries involving a missing mobster and his abducted wife.
While "The Big Sleep" is Chandler's best known work, it is not his best novel. It seems that Chandler is still working out the style and form later expressed so gallantly in "The Long Goodbye.Read more ›
In some respects THE BIG SLEEP is a problematic novel. The plot concerns detective Philip Marlowe's efforts to protect the wealthy Sternwood family from blackmail--but from this starting point it spins out into several complicated directions. Chandler manages this myriad of elements very well through the first half of the novel, but at mid-point the plot breaks apart into a series of loose ends and improbabilities from which it doesn't recover until the last fifty pages--and then only just. But that is almost beside the point. Thanks to Chandler's unique style, you simply can't put the book down long enough to criticize it.
THE BIG SLEEP reads with tremendous speed and power, creating a portrait of a seamy world ruled by bisexual pornographers, purring hitmen, cheap hoods, and enameled dames determined to have their way no matter what--a fascinating collection of everything small and mean and gutter common. At the same time, it also presents a surprising degree of integrity in the midst of the corruption: Marlowe won't sell out, no matter what the bribe, and behind their various masks the hardbitten Vivien Sternwood, mysterious Mona Mars, and small-time Harry Jones have enough courage, loyalty, and unexpected integrity to win your respect.Read more ›
"Chandleresque" suggests a certain style of writing and of using metaphors and language that can't really be described to anyone unfamiliar with his work without lapsing into stereotype. For any other mystery writer, that would be a negative, but since Chandler is the man who, with The Big Sleep, more or less invented the detective novel as we know it today it's astonishing to read and realize what kind of impact it might have had on those who read the first printing.
The Big Sleep introduces Philip Marlowe as the private eye who is both uncorruptable and one step ahead of his antagonists. His characterization is what drives the story, which as mysteries go is not the most suspensful or even all that mysterious. Indeed, the "mystery" such as it is is barely given notice by Chandler, short of the necessities. While there are some good plot twists, they seem to come together in a generally haphazard manner. None of that matters, because the main interest is in what Marlowe will do next and how he will react. Chandler creates some interesting supporting characters as well, but they float in and out of the story overwhelmed by the protagonist.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of the most famous American hardboiled detective novels. Chandler is best known for his language, which is wonderful. Read morePublished 10 days ago by William Clodius
Well paced with dialog that snaps. Atmospheric narrative. Vivid characters. The type of writing that makes the hardboiled detective novel a joy to read.Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Great book to read lots of good scenes, I read it for class, I liked it a lot just read it.Published 17 days ago
Love it, one of my favorite books of all time. The original hard-boiled detective novel.Published 21 days ago by Maveric28
There was a lot of slang that dated the work and made it difficult to read.Published 22 days ago by Richard Williams
What to say here that hasn't already been said? Raymond Chandler is a master of noir. His prose is brilliant and his damaged protagonists are magnificent. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Dakota D
I read Raymond Chandler's "Farewell, My Lovely" last year. It was his second novel and my first by Chandler. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robin Friedman