The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep

Book - 1967
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Publisher: London : Hamilton, 1967, c1939.
ISBN: 9780241914304
0241914302
Characteristics: 216 p. ;,18 cm.

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t
thekevinwilson
Nov 06, 2019

Very much Noir 101. Introspective protagonist, everything dipped in mood and atmosphere, and sharp writing. I loved the way the author described everything how Marlowe sees it. Analyzing , catching stolen glances, questioning everything. Unfortunately the book starts awkwardly fumbling for its keys at the halfway mark. I got the distinct feeling that this was two short stories stapled together to make a longer piece. It shows. If you want a book that drips with atmosphere and character: this is your book. If you're looking for a rock solid mystery that can keep you guessing: sleuth somewhere else.

l
lendmeyourears2017
Jun 02, 2019

A scandal…a blackmail attempt…a murder…a romance…a little snappy, rapid fire banter…noir fiction is alive and well in this recreation of a vintage radio play. In this story, we follow a hard boiled detective, Philip Marlowe, as he becomes embroiled in the affairs of a wealthy, influential man near death and his two beautiful spoiled daughters. The author’s liberal use of period slang phrases goes far in taking the listener to 1940’s era Los Angeles where this story takes place. Break out your fedora and classic car for a ride into the past!

This radio play offers a full cast performance of this classic noir tale. It has just the right touch of cool jazz and sound effects to help set time and place.

This theater of the mind radio dramatization of a long time favorite novel and movie is a treat. You, the listener are there with the characters through the skilled writing of Raymond Chandler. As I listen, this story plays out for me in black and white. Enjoy this trip to mid-century American literature.

c
cibhatti725
Apr 30, 2019

Another "Summer of Chandler" I reread these books every few years. This is probably one of my top 2 on the list. These are some of the best noir you will ever read. Philip Marlowe is the prototype for all fictional detectives. Maybe the best detective quote ever comes from this book : “It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark little clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.” The family is loosely based on the Doheny family and the locations bring to mind summers in Los Angeles.

IndyPL_SteveB Jan 09, 2019

One of the most important hard-boiled detective novels, featuring tough, but mostly honorable, detective Philip Marlowe. Chandler stitched this novel together from several of his magazine short stories (which leaves an unresolved plot element by the end). He was well known for his colorful writing and extravagant use of similes, some quite funny, some edgy toward the bizarre.
Marlowe is hired by a wealthy, dying man to help take care of some trouble his two wayward daughters have gotten into. They are pretty and sexy but amoral, always in trouble with men, alcohol, and gambling debts. Marlowe discovers connections with drugs, pornography, homosexuality, blackmail, racketeering, and murder. (I was surprised by the fairly frank discussion of these topics in a 1939 novel.) Characters double-cross each other and Marlowe keeps talking to people who get murdered right after. The various mysteries mostly get solved but it is clear that Chandler is interested more in the characters, language, and atmosphere than in any basic mystery element.

d
darladoodles
Sep 16, 2018

This is why I love book groups. The Big Sleep has been waiting in the wings for ages and I would most certainly have left it there if one of my book groups had not added it to the list for September. It was not an easy book to read -- so much is packed in those 231 pages. It is truly an experience I would not have missed. The cryptic prose is filled with rich images and the world of Philip Marlowe leaps off the page. This was undoubtedly a pioneer in its era and will be considered a classic for many years to come.

v
velveetahead
Jul 05, 2018

I haven't read an old-fashioned detective novel until now. While it jumped right into the plot with non-stop action, I was still a bit troubled by the sexist and homophobic threads that ran through the book. Now, I know it was written in 1939 so it was a book of its time, but that didn't make certain parts of it any easier to read.

I would not say I was surprised when Phillip Marlowe slapped a hysterical woman. I laughed when all women wanted to sleep with him, even though he couldn't be bothered with any of them, even when one shows up naked in his own bed when he comes home. It wasn't surprising even when he met a gay man, but wow, that passage was so extremely homophobic that I felt uncomfortable.

I wanted to ignore those parts, but they were sprinkled throughout the book. I could say that Marlowe didn't have much respect for women or gay men, but really, he didn't have much respect for anyone. He did think he was smarter than everyone and most of the time he was, so he got away with it a lot.

Even though it sounds like I have a lot of negative things to say, I still enjoyed the story and his character. I just wanted him to open up his mind a little about the way he thinks about things. He probably won't in the other books in the series, but I do still want to read them.

a
Andrew Kyle Bacon
May 19, 2018

Prose that sticks to you like wet cement. Heavy and coarse, but easy to swallow like hard liquor. It's a book that grabs you by the teeth and performs a root canal on your heartstrings, dipping you into the seedy world of rich people who don't have anything better to do with their money that kill each other. It's the sort of book that makes you want to read more books like it, but you always have to shower afterwards. There's something dirty about it, even if it seems clean. Somehow it's illicit, even if it seems normal. It's naughtiness tied up in glamor.

That's how I'd describe The Big Sleep, and that's how I'd describe the work of Raymond Chandler in general. His writing is fun and engaging, quick and easy, but has a tinge of filth that makes you uneasy. You always feel like you're reading something that you shouldn't, which is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, some aspects of the book will seem dated to a modern and "socially-conscious" reader, but if you can put your mind in the context of the 1940s the book will come alive. It teems with life, style, and jazz. Don't read this one if you need a safe-space, because Chandler doesn't care about your emotional protection. Some of the stuff in the book is downright ugly, old-fashioned, and not pleasant, but it's honest to the time and the world. Philip Marlowe isn't a nice guy, and he'll be the first person to tell you that.

"Do you think that's ethical?" he is asked at one point.
"Yeah, I do," he responds.

The book is moral grey area after moral grey area, and none of it is pretty.

BostonPL_JordanD Jan 23, 2018

My online book group is doing a Marlowe challenge this year, so I'll be reading one book per month from this series. Anyway: Loved this. It’s easy to see Chandler’s influence on Joseph Hansen, one of my all-time favorite mystery writers. I like Marlowe. He's my kinda guy. I have some questions about him based on some things he said, but hopefully the other books will answer them for me. I really liked the descriptions Chandler uses. They're very visual and spot on.
Can’t wait to read book two next month!

j
jcosner13
May 09, 2017

Classic noir. If you like "tough guy" detectives, you'll love this.

s
SunsetBranch
Feb 22, 2016

I'm going to stop reading all these hard-boiled detective stories: now I want a gat--or a sap--or both

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travisw70
Jan 06, 2016

"Dead men are heavier than broken hearts."

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