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The Big Sleep Audio, Cassette – Unabridged, March, 2002

4.2 out of 5 stars 414 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

"His thin, claw-like 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." Published in 1939, when Raymond Chandler was 50, this is the first of the Philip Marlowe novels. Its bursts of sex, violence, and explosively direct prose changed detective fiction forever. "She was trouble. She was tall and rangy and strong-looking. Her hair was black and wiry and parted in the middle. She had a good mouth and a good chin. There was a sulky droop to her lips and the lower lip was full." --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Chandler is not only the best writer of hardboiled PI stories, he's one of the 20th century's top scribes, period. His full canon of novels and short stories is reprinted in trade paper featuring uniform covers in Black Lizard's signature style. A handsome set for a reasonable price.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: New Millennium Audio (March 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590070895
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590070895
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 6 x 2.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (414 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,191,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"The Big Sleep," written in 1939, was Raymond Chandler's first Philip Marlowe novel. Chandler went on to write several other classic noir novels, like "Farewell, My Lovely," "The High Window," and "The Long Goodbye." Chandler did not start writing his classic works until the age of forty-five, when he began submitting short stories to pulp magazines like Mask. Sadly, Chandler died in 1959, effectively depriving us of more classic Marlowe novels and stories. The shame of the whole thing is Chandler did not start writing until late in his life, although seeing how some great authors decline over the course of their careers perhaps it is best we only have a few novels from Raymond Chandler.
"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.
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Format: Paperback
There isn't any question about where American noir fiction began: all fingers point to James M. Cain's THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE. Likewise, there isn't any question about where the tough California P.I. novel started: the credit goes to Dashiell Hammett's THE MALTESE FALCON. But in 1939, a pulp magazine writer fused the two concepts, and the result is a style--street-smart, tough, witty, and compellingly direct--that belongs to one writer only: Raymond Chandler. And his first novel, THE BIG SLEEP, made him a household name.
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.
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By A Customer on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's often been said that Raymond Chandler is the quintessential writer about Los Angeles in the 1940's in the way that Faulkner fictionalized the American South. The Big Sleep is the best example of Chandler's affinity for the city, particularly in the light of it's unique blend of pre-fabricated history associated with the film industry and the pre-Hollywood era. That being said, it's a bit ironic that we tend to think of Philip Marlowe as personified by Humphrey Bogart, even though he's been played by several actors over the years and the film of The Big Sleep is markedly different from the book.
"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.
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