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The Little Sister

4.1 out of 5 stars 150 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Remember those great film adaptations of Raymond Chandler's work? Who could forget Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep or Dick Powell playing the same character in Farewell, My Lovely? In Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe: The Little Sister, illustrator Michael Lark has given us a brand-new incarnation of Chandler's famous fictional detective, a "comic book" version of Chandler's 1949 mystery. When Orfamay Quest hires Marlowe to find her missing brother, the case at first seems pretty straightforward, but--beset by mobsters, blackmailers, and murder--Marlowe soon discovers that a missing person is the least of his troubles.

The Little Sister was not one of Raymond Chandler's best efforts, but Michael Lark has effectively tailored the text to clarify the original story, emphasizing through his "comic noir" artwork the dark, dangerous environs, both physical and psychological, in which Philip Marlowe still moves. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A great deal of Chandler's work has been transposed to films, and now we're seeing the first graphic novel adaptation of his 1949 mystery novel, The Little Sister. Illustrator/adapter Lark, who has authored various comic-book series, has done a credible job translating Chandler's story from one medium to another. Large chunks of Chandler's original text complement the pleasant and eerie illustrations, which succeed in giving the book a 1930s cinematic look. It's questionable whether the graphic-novel version has the impact of Chandler's original, and it's not clear whether graphic-novel readers enjoy the mystery genre. Still, this book is a good companion to the adaptation, Paul Auster's City of Glass (Avon, 1994) and will be useful where similar books are popular. For public libraries.?Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Otto Penzler (July 8, 1996)
  • ASIN: B000023VWT
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (150 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,001,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Postwar L.A. -- and especially Hollywood -- is the setting for Chandler's fifth Marlowe novel which, like the time and place (and the author himself), is a little "off." Marlowe's beginning to tire, his loneliness is a bit more apparent, and the disillusionment has started to etch permanent lines on him.
None of which stops him. Neither does it make "The Little Sister" a bad work. In fact, it holds up remarkably well alongside Chandler's first four novels.
Chandler draws upon contemporary events and personages for much of his inspiration here (something he did in several earlier stories and novels, to a lesser degree); the photo which triggers the action in "Sister," for example, is based on an incident involving gangster Bugsy Siegel . . . but then the character of Steelgrave, himself, bears a more than passing resemblance to the then-recently deceased hood. It's equally evident that Chandler relied upon his recent screenwriting experience (and exposure to Paramount and Universal studios) for material and characters. There's an element of gleeful revenge, I suspect, for example, in the character of agent Sheridan Ballou: certain characteristics, such as his tendency to strut up and down his office twirling a mallaca cane, can only have been inspired by director/screenwriter Billy Wilder (with whom Chandler, collaborating on the screenplay for "Double Indemnity," shared an entirely mutual loathing).
Other characters, primarily a pair of mismatched thugs sent to intimidate Marlowe, are pure burlesque; Chandler appears to be simply indulging himself here (while he simultaneously manages yet another dig at the movie industry).
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Format: Paperback
The latest in a long series of visits to LA had me refreshing my memory of one of my favourite novelists. As a young man I knew the Philip Marlowe books nearly by heart before I ever set foot in the city they put on the literary map. I have always thought that Chandler counts as literature not just as crime fiction. He was a professed admirer of the ultra-craftsman Flaubert, and it shows in the way he works at every sentence, indeed every word. He was English and as far as I know unrelated to the 'real' LA Chandlers (he attended the same school as P G Wodehouse, if you can believe it). He maintained that 'the American language' can say anything and in The Simple Art of Murder he took a brilliant potshot at the Agatha Christie school of English crime fiction , all tight-lipped butlers polishing the georgian silver and respectful upper-middles gathered to hear the amateur master-sleuth analyse over 5 or 6 pages which of them dunnit. His power of creating atmosphere is phenomenal, his dialogue is legendary, and for me The Little Sister is the best of the 7 Marlowes. It's at the crest of the hill, before he started to lose concentration in The Long Goodbye and lost just about everything in the sad Playback. I can still feel the heavy heat at the start of the book, and the dialogue is the best he ever did. Is there any other instance of anyone silencing Marlowe with an answer the way the beat-up hotel dick does when Marlowe tells him he is going up to room such-and-such and the hotel dick says 'Am I stopping you?'. And I cherish the bit about the same character tucking his gun into his waistband 'in an emergency he could probably have got it out in less than a minute'.Read more ›
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By A Customer on April 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
I've always been a fan of Raymond Chandler's books - they are so twisted and convoluted. Michael Lark has really brought that sense of being "in the dark" to his adaption of "The Little Sister". Both in terms of plot development and the artwork.
The artwork is dark and differs from most comic book art in that it uses crisp lines, very few color gradients in conjunction with heavy inking. Michael Lark and Alex Wald hit upon an dark, art-nouveaux style that works really well for this genre.
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Format: Paperback
Phillip Marlowe receives a visit from Orfamay Quest. She came from Kansas to track down her brother Orrin; he moved to Los Angeles a year earlier and has stopped writing home. Marlowe visits Orrin's last address, a rooming house in the seedy part of town. The room now contains G. W. Hicks, who is moving out, and knows nothing. When Marlowe leaves, he notices the manager is now dead! Later Marlowe receives a phone call, hiring him for a job. When Marlowe shows up at the hotel room, he finds a dead G. W. Hicks, killed with an ice pick like the rooming house manager. Somebody searched the room, but Marlowe found what they missed. The Police are called again. Marlowe uses the claim check to retrieve photographic prints. The hotel detective noticed a woman visitor, and gives Marlowe her license plate number. Now the investigation continues into new territory.

The story echoes "Farewell, My Lovely" and other stories. A private detective is hired to find somebody. The client doesn't tell the Whole Truth. Coincidences and complications pop up to carry the story forward. The Whole Truth isn't revealed until the last pages, and the final deaths which tie up the story without loose ends. Again, the scandals and crimes that created the murders aren't revealed until the end. There are only shades of gray, no blacks and white. All the characters have something to hide. A recurring theme in Chandler's stories is that crime leads to blackmail, and blackmail leads to murder. Can a snapshot of a couple at a restaurant result in six dead bodies? Chandler makes it believable.
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