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The Little Sister Paperback – August 12, 1988
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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 the Audio CD 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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Phillip Marlowe is the natural heir to the crown of Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, he's usually found poking his nose into places without much prospect of being paid. He grouses about being broke, but you wonder how the hell he stays afloat at all. Even the measly twenty bucks that Orfamay Quest is prepared (reluctantly) to hand over for his services doesn't end up in his wallet. How DOES he live?
Orfamay is a mousy, dowdy girl from Manhattan, Kansas who's blown into town to try to find her missing brother Orrin. She's prim and stingy and sexless and about as far from being Marlowe's kind of woman as she can get. She doesn't think much of him either, but her brother has dropped out of sight and she wants to find him. After all, a little sister would be worried about her older brother who moved to the big, bad city and then stopped writing, wouldn't she?
The whole Quest clan could rightly be called odd. Marlowe tags them as "sanctimonious" and that hits the nail on the head. A meaningless reference to Salt Lake City seems to have been thrown in to hint that they are Mormons. It's unlikely that the British-raised Chandler would have been a fan of the Latter Day Saints. They are a strictly American phenomenon and an acquired taste.
There's a doctor with a mysterious past and some strange patients. There are two beautiful actresses. Marlowe likes beautiful dames and they like him, but he isn't sure exactly how they fit in to this crime. In Orfamay, he has a client who seems to be working against him as often as not. Anyone but Marlowe would throw up his hands and pack it in, but he has to keep going to see what's around the next curve. Poor Marlowe. He's not human tonight.
Chandler was a superb writer and Phillip Marlowe is a fascinating character, but steel yourself for some dark stuff before you start this one. Marlowe's California wasn't beach boys and sunshine, but a land of transients who have brought their troubles with them. And not even Marlowe can make things right.
Yet, there is something missing when one compares this to his other works. The level of suspense does not seem to be quite there as it was in previous entries. Marlowe seems a bit tired. However, this is worth a read, especially if you have read previous entries. If you enjoy this I would recommend the illustrated edition, and the film adaptation from 1969 (called "Marlowe) starring James Garner.
The whole United States of 1949. Except of course for some of us.
Still, even for those for whom one might say it is better now, it is still really not nearly good enough.
This book is a sad book, but a very good one. Marlowe is a beautiful and perfect example of exactly what a good person is in a very confusing and corrupt environment, which makes it a helpful read for anyone running around today.
Sort of what Kipling was talking about in his poem "If."
And Marlowe does mourn the passing of all that is good about our society and our country. He sees the good parts that are going away and the bad that is yet to come.
He is a man in mourning, a man in grief, seemingly much older than the character is supposed to be in years.
But in those days people did not expect to be running in marathons in their sixties. Life was seen as short. Something which passes. Youth was seen as something which passes. Very quickly. Middle age was defined differently then.
We cannot run and run forever. And there can be no such thing as unlimited growth.
Marlowe was a painting of a person living generously. An ideal.
There is no room for nitpicking here. The man is a master.
I started reading Chandler out of curiosity because of the comparisons reviewers of Kerr's books have made to Chandler's; simply put Chandler's books are wonderful, easy reading, very humorous at times and very suspenseful, as are Kerr's (with the possible exception of mass murder)! And Marlowe will always be Humphrey Bogart, a role he did in fact play in the original, 1946, The Big Sleep! And in fact, Bogey played very much the same character, but as Sam Spade, in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon!