Customer Reviews


69 Reviews
5 star:
 (36)
4 star:
 (20)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time classic American crime novels
First of all, I should say that I can't believe no one else has written a review of this wonderful crime novel. I'm happy to rectify this oversight now.
For me, Raymond Chandler's first novel, published in 1939, stands as not only one of the great crime novels of the 20th century, but one of the best genuinely American prose works in all of literature. Only an...
Published on 6 Feb 2001

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me but might be for some
NO SPOILERS

I read a lot of murder books but couldn't like this one no matter how hard I tried. I appreciated the skill of writing for bygone era but just couldn't get to grips with it as a story.

The whodunit I worked out very very quickly which always saddens me and I never once wavered from my thought to an maybe I'm wrong, maybe it was that...
Published 2 months ago by Bradfordiansteph


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the all-time classic American crime novels, 6 Feb 2001
By A Customer
First of all, I should say that I can't believe no one else has written a review of this wonderful crime novel. I'm happy to rectify this oversight now.
For me, Raymond Chandler's first novel, published in 1939, stands as not only one of the great crime novels of the 20th century, but one of the best genuinely American prose works in all of literature. Only an ignorant snob could argue that this isn't a piece of literature and a work of art as well as a highly entertaining story of detection. Philip Marlowe is Chandler's laconic private eye hero, an urban knight and man of honour operating in a grim world, a tough guy with a hard shell covering a man of culture and learning. Chandler writes both lines of dialogue and first person narrative to die for, combining a poet's use of metaphor with the hard-edged wit of the mean streets of Los Angeles, whose dark underbelly Chandler explores in his novels.
The plot of this mystery is legendary for its labyrinthine structure as Marlowe takes on a case for the wealthy General Sternwood, getting mixed up in murder, sex and a pornography racket.
I couldn't praise this masterpiece enough. Suffice to say that I consider it to be flawless.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect pace and crackling dialogue, 31 Dec 2011
By 
This review is from: The Big Sleep (Kindle Edition)
Had to read this for Book Club and loved it in spite of the unselfconscious sexism and homophobia that marks it out as a novel from a different era. Perfect pace and crackling dialogue gave me several laugh out loud moments along with delight at the wit and sharp observation.

The Big Sleep is Raymond Chandler's first case for Los Angeles Private Investigator Philip Marlowe. For me, Marlowe develops in subtlety through the subsequent books, and becomes all the more interesting a character as a result, but in this his first outing, he still charms as a charismatic outsider whose idea of hell would be domestic bliss, and who loves nothing better than a drink, a smoke, an illicit clinch and a dose of hard boiled action to get the blood racing.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do yourself a favour!, 7 Nov 2011
By 
Westham (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
Not sure whether a Chandler fanatic should attempt a fair review of a Chandler classic, so let's at least try to be fair. What COULDN'T he do? Well, he couldn't write a plot for a start. The Big Sleep (and other RC novels) is based on two of his earlier short(ish) stories welded together - not exactly seamlessly. For example, who killed the Chauffeur and why? That problem baffled the screen-writer (Forester) and director (Howard Hawkes) of the first Big Sleep movie - they rang Ray to find out - he told them he couldn't remember! Nobody else knows either. I mention it, not to spoil anything, but in the hope that trying to work it out will not drive you nuts (as it did me).
On the other hand he could write like an angel:"The General spoke again, slowly, using his strength as carefully as an out-of-work show-girl uses her last good pair of stockings." I'm currently fighting myself not to quote from the great last paragraph - even though I'm convinced it couldn't spoil anything. Instead I'll just give another example of the man's wit (although I think it may be from "Trouble is my business"): "I called him from a phone booth. The voice that answered was fat. It wheezed softly, like the voice of a man who had just won a pie-eating contest."

The Big Sleep's not just a great read; it's a great re-read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard boiled, sentimental and sublime, 8 April 2012
By 
McRonson (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
My favourite of all of the Philip Marlowe books by Raymond Chandler - I once watched a documentary on fictitious American private eyes and the critical testimony, brutally harsh and accurate, of two Dashiell Hamnet adherents regarding Marlowe's rather easygoing approach to being adequately paid for his sleuthing, still couldn't put me off holding this shop soiled knight in tarnished armour's adventures in such high regard.

Early memories of seeing the first Robert Mitchum starring version of The Big Sleep as a child in the 1970s (Candy Southern hopped up and naked in a big wickerwork chair, Joan Collins as an upper crust grifter, etc) all collided when I finally read this book in the late 1980s, after reading references to the influences of Chandler and Hammet's Frank (Batman: Year One/The Dark Knight Returns) Miller work on Marvel Comics Daredevil title*.

While I can appreciate Chandler's way with descriptions, prose style and setting a scene, it's the emotional content of his books that endear me the most to him in crime fiction; I like Marlowe's tough guy character, I like his cheek and most of all, I love Chandler's perpetual habit of never letting Marlowe get the girl.

More than anything, it's the sentimental and bittersweet fleeting assignations and Marlowe's hardboiled observations thereof that move me more than anything else in Chandler's stylistic armoury: the sheer unrequited romanticism in his writing.

I know this isn't the most intellectual review of Chandler's The Big Sleep but I don't watch, read or listen to things from a technical POV - I just want to be entertained and have my emotions stirred up and the emotional frequency that Chandler wrote on presses all the right sentimental buttons in me.

So, poor old Marlowe...he never did see Silver Wig again.

If you're unsure of taking the plunge into the Marlowe milieu, don't be - the book is beautifully written and the final paragraph, where the expression 'Mean streets' must surely have come from is SHEER poetry. Only someone who could feel so much could have written something so affecting.

Hammet and Cain and other writers of American crime fiction may be more palatable to aficionados of tough, two fisted detective fiction but Chandler made the emotional themes count as much as the plot and prose themselves and for that, I'll always be a Philip Marlowe fan.

The Big Sleep - a five star rating, no contest.

*I believe it's Daredevil (vol.1) issue 189 where, having lost his powers, writer Frank Miller has DD paraphrase a line of Marlowe's from Farewell My Lovely, "Ok, DD - you've fought crooks, Hulks and Kingpins. Now do something REALLY difficult....like, cross the road!". Marlowe, drugged to the eyeballs and imprisoned in a sanitorium somewhere, finds getting out of his bed rather difficult and challengers himself to walk to the (locked) door...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Sleep, 7 Oct 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Big Sleep (Kindle Edition)
Written in 1939, this is the first of the Philip Marlowe PI, cynical tough guy, novels. This is noir, beautifully written and realised, with everything you could possibly expect from this classic book. When we meet Marlowe he is on his way to the 'Sternwood Place' to meet four million dollars - neat, clean, shaved and sober, as befits visiting a millionaire. Gerneral Sternwood is paralysed in both his legs, a widower with two wayward daughters and a missing son in law. He is being blackmailed and wants Marlowe to help.

As far the plot goes, it is confusing and involved. There are guns, gangsters and girls, including Sternwood's two daughters, the spoiled and ruthless Vivian and the childish Carmen. Vivian has a string of broken marriages, her last to Rusty Regan rumoured to have ended with her husband skipping with Eddie Mars, a local hard man, wife. Both Carmen and Vivian seem to mix with the wrong people, but are they simply wild or dangerous? Along the way there is lots of action and wise cracks, as Marlowe battles his way to the truth. As so many characters have been based on Philip Marlowe, it is interesting to read the original and judge for yourself. This is the basis for a whole genre of writing and fascinating to read, as well as being an enjoyable story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard boiled madness., 22 Dec 2009
By 
Chris "Achnot" (Dublin, Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Philip Marlowe is possibly one of the coolest characters ever created, hes the embodiment of that wonderful hard boiled detachment that you just dont come across done even remotely successfully elsewhere(Im looking at you Sam Spade). The big sleep is in my opinion the top crime novel, full of wonderful 30's language, incredibly diverse and complex characters and a plot so enthralling and nuanced ive had to go back several times to enjoy this book properly. However understandably a plot such as this might be for the Extremely casual reader a little bit confusing however please dont let that put you off because its so worth it.

To finish up there are a number of famous crime novels from this period and earlier again that have become quite influential in film and literature but if you want the big daddy of all our great modern hard boiled stories(Kiss kiss bang bang, payback etc) then look no further!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Immortal Murder Mystery, 16 Nov 2008
By 
The Piglit (Sheffield England) - See all my reviews
The combination of prose that is both sparse and flowing, a dense plot and a tragic yet oddly subtle denoument would be enough to make The Big Sleep one of the greatest, and most timeless of detective stories. But Chandler took the genre in this and subsequent novels to a literary level by an incisive, critical but above all, informed, portrayl of personal motivation and social setting. In doing so he not only wrote novels which had the greatest reality and integrity, but consequently broke the mould of inspector-calls-murder-at-the-vicarage stuff. Indeed the real tragedy for me is that his influence is not more keenly felt in crime writing, for unrealistic and repressed Christiesque dross is to this day being produced and eagerly consumed in quantity.
An essential and unforgettable author.
And please Google his essay "The Simple Art of Murder" when you've logged out of here!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good mystery, 24 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
The first Philip Marlowe story, this is a good solid read. The plot is good and twisty and the whole noir atmosphere is expertly handled. Also, it is nice to have a detective who does not keep falling for the bad guy all the time. The characters are well drawn and the language used is very evocative.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best crime novel I've read, 11 Mar 2013
By 
Meinhard Jensen "Meinhard" (Faroes) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
When I realized that "The Big Lebowski" was based on "The Big Sleep," I bought a VHS copy of the "The Big Sleep" movie with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It is great fun, but it wasn't until I read the novel that I got it. The story is a little complex, but it is good, and after you have the plot down and you have had your fun comparing "The Big Sleep" and "The Big Lebowski," this book still delivers. There is Marlowe, first of all: behind his facade, there is this struggling man, because that is what he is. He is flesh and blood. He has high standards, but being knightly doesn't come easy to him. His loneliness is very real, but not exaggerated. I don't get tired of his way with words. The metaphors and similes are legendary, but there are also other things such as chapter intros. Perhaps the best thing about the book is its detailed realism. You never enter a room or meet a character without descriptions of fabric and colors and smells. You always know the weather, the mood and the temperature. It is a crime story, but it is also a lot, lot more. It isn't without reason that it has all these imitators.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A true classic..., 9 Dec 2012
By 
FictionFan (Kirkintilloch, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
It's impossible to read this book without visualising Bogey and Bacall in the roles and that says much about how influential Chandler was not just in hard-boiled fiction but in film noir. Philip Marlowe, hard-drinking tough-guy loner, but with an ethical streak, is the archetypal P.I., matched only perhaps by Hammett's Sam Spade. Re-reading this book after many years brought home to me how many of today's fictional detectives owe their very existence to Marlowe.

Chandler's Los Angeles is a dark, moody place filled with corruption and sleaze. Gambling, drunkenness, adultery, pornography - all human frailty is here, but there's also a small place left for loyalty and even love. The plot is confusing, filled with double-dealing criminals and drunken half-crazed femme fatales, and if you're looking for political correctness, you'll need to look elsewhere. Misogyny and homophobia abound throughout, but then the past was a foreign country and the book is of its time and genre. If you can leave your modern sensibilities on the shelf for a while, this is still a great read - well written, complex plotting and some unforgettable characters. Recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Paperback - 15 Jun 2011)
6.29
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews