Good vintage/ classic detective novel. I haven't read any of Chandler's books before, so I started with this one, his first. I never read the classic detective novels because I knew that they took place in the forties and I thought that they would be really dated and old fashioned. Yet again, I was wrong. I don't know why I thought that it would be more innocent than it was. People are people and they murdered and gambled and drank and slept around just as well, if not better, than we do now. If you are a fan of mystery and detective novels you should give this a try.
"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 is one of the grand daddys of the murder mystery. raymond Chandler only did about six of them. This the tough detective against the bad guys and at least one trecherous woman. It's great reading. The stylized writing is probably a little too simple for some readers, but it emerged in the 30's...and carried us up to Papa Hemingway and Mickey Spillane. Oh, by the way, it's a good story.
I had trouble staying interested. At least I know who Michael Connelly and Robert Crais (and many others) have to thank for their style. I didn't like the "voice" as much as another reviewer did. This is the 3rd Chandler novel I've tried, and in all of them the voice seemed disconnected from reality.
I read this with the expectation that I would be intrigued. I had heard a great many good things about this. Honestly, for a noir novel this one felt pretty flat. It wasn't poorly written by any means. It just didn't have the "something" it needed to bring it to life. Perhaps it was the characters. I didn't find myself excited to turn the page. I just felt the need to finish it to say that I'd read it. I've read worse novels though. Worth reading at least once to say you've read it if you haven't yet. Other than that, meh.
Love vintage mysteries. This one finds Philip Marlowe involved with three murders. While he has been hired by a dying millionaire to help with the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, he finds kidnapping, murder and untangling a variety of criminal actions to discover what really happened. He is rather philosophic about the experience and at the end of the tale, the author describes his feelings.
"What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or on a marble slab on top of a high hill. You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep. The big sleep, you wre not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell..."
I have to be careful not the conflate my feelings about the hardboiled genre and this example of it. Raymond Chandler's first novel, The Big Sleep, is undoubtedly a classic hardboiled detective story. Chandler introduces Philip Marlowe, the protagonist of several more novels, as a more fleshed-out and likable character than those in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, another recent read in this genre. Chandler's prose, while still succinct and edgy in a masculine manner, has more attitude. Although a new plot twist at the end of every chapter is standard, I felt there was a place in the middle where the plot could have resolved, and subsequent developments were merely to prolong the story. Nonetheless, I'm glad the list of 1001 books you must read before you die led me to The Big Sleep.
When I first started reading this book, I didn't think I was going to like it or that I would finish it and at times didn't really understand what was going on. But I stuck with it and eventually things became clear and I found it quite intriguing with many twists to the story and a surprise ending.
Philip Marlowe is a witty and likable character and while reading, I felt like I was watching an old black & white movie that he was narrating.