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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do yourself a favour!
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...
Published on 7 Nov. 2011 by Westham

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure why this is such a highly acclaimed story
This is a highly acclaimed book but I did not find it as such. Maybe it has become popular because it was made into a film

It is well written; Chandler’s style is that of writing very detailed descriptions and as such it is possible to visualise very clearly all the scenes and the individuals.

Somehow the story is not very gripping. The...
Published 1 month ago by Discerning Reader


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10 of 10 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.
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57 of 60 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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect pace and crackling dialogue, 31 Dec. 2011
By 
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.
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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
(VINE VOICE)    (HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
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.
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3 of 3 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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dial M for Marlowe, 26 Nov. 2012
Of all of literatures great detectives, Philip Marlowe is one with which I can most identify. I'm a sucker for good prose and the way Marlowe's monologue flows from the page is one of life's simple joys.

But then Marlowe is unique amongst the great detectives. With Holmes, with Marple, with Sam Spade, we are never privy to their inner thoughts, only the occasional wry smile or raised eyebrow in response to a clue revealed. With The Big Sleep and its sequels we hear all too much of Marlowe's inner thoughts and his creator, Raymond Chandler, has to use different tricks than usual to keep the reader guessing. Marlowe describes what he discovers each stage of the way, but never what it all means until the end. He's tricksy, using creative double negatives and fantasies about the private lives of inanimate objects as distractions.

The plot of the Big Sleep is actually culled from a number a Chandler's short stories (as were most of the Marlowe novels). Marlowe is hired by General Sternwood because he is being blackmailed. Along the way Marlowe uncovers pornography and gambling debts and more blackmail and a lot of murder that needs solving.

The advantage of winding together a number of previously published stories is the multiple plot threads unwind so slowly that you barely notice what's really been going on. The true focus of Marlowe's investigation only becomes clear in the final reel. The real mystery in any Marlowe novel is always Marlowe himself. Not the best, but the best known and first of the novels. Read it and immediately move on to Farwell My Lovely and The Lady in the Lake.
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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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Find him for me Marlowe, just find him., 28 April 2015
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
Rusty Regan has apparently run away from a lot of money and a handsome wife to go wandering with a vague blonde who is more or less married to a racketeer named Eddie Mars. The local cops division of Missing Persons are on the job, but nothing seemed to be happening.
Private Eye Philip Marlowe is also on the job, working for a highly distinguished but ailing old man General Sternwood, who has a couple of troublesome daughters. The youngest one has to be rescued from the grasp of a pornographer, who is trying to blackmail the General into parting with some of his money in exchange for the compromising photographs.

This is the second time I’ve read this book, and it improves on a second reading, mainly because one is familiar with the people involved. Chandler is a brilliant writer: “You have to hold your teeth clamped around Hollywood to keep from chewing on stray blondes”, he tells us early on. Tough as they come and twice as honest as the next man, Then the man with the dirty picture emporium is shot dead, and shortly after that Marlowe has to contend with one of the Sternwood daughters stripping off and waiting for him in his bedroom. Selflessly, Marlowe refuses the offering and sends her packing. A bad move. The girl is as mad as she can be and still stand upright.

The plot is a stinker, but who cares. Marlowe is a straight man. One thing I didn’t care for was the casual homophobic attitudes of almost everyone, including our hero, but that was probably par for the course in the 1940s. It’s one of the greats and Marlowe comes through in the end, not exactly smelling of roses, but he’s the best of the bunch for all that. Marvellous!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Hard-boiled as it gets......, 18 Oct. 2007
By 
Bentley (USA and England) - See all my reviews
"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 blue 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."

- Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep

And thus began the criteria for what a private eye would look like and what his moral code would be. Raymond Chandler, author of the Philip Marlowe series of crime novels, set the bar high and generations would follow in his writing footsteps.

Raymond Chandler is considered to be one of the most influential writers of crime fiction and his phenomenal creation of the detective Philip Marlowe has survived decades.

Every time a modern reader discovers a new private eye who is facing some interesting and very tough times but is able to do it with integrity and a strict moral code alongwith a "soldier's eye"; you are meeting Raymond Chandler the writer all over again. And Philip Marlowe his creation is playing a pivotal role in the background.

Raymond Chandler wrote seven detective novels but THE BIG SLEEP is probably his best out of the three in this edition. He was in his fifties when he wrote these novels; yet the first novel cited: THE BIG SLEEP would become an American landmark in the hard-boiled detective genre and would really launch Chandler into the icon that he is today.

The reader will discover unified themes with strong and fully developed characters with incredible imagery and metaphors. Chandler's literary style is distinctive and very crisp. You will love his writing and it brings back nostalgia for a time long past. If you are new to hard-boiled detective stories, this is the series that I would start with

In the first novel THE BIG SLEEP you will be introduced to the Sternwoods: General Sternwood, Vivian and Carmen and all three are interesting studies and all three as General Sternwood notes hasn't "any more moral sense than a cat." General Sternwood is on his deathbed and hired Philip Marlowe to check out why he was being blackmailed by one Arthur Gwynn Geiger. His two daughters, Vivian and Carmen, are quite a handful but General Sternwood feels in part responsible for his plight. As he tells Marlow, "I need not add that a man who indulges in parenthood for the first time at the age of fifty-four deserves all he gets." He describes his two daughters as being "spoiled, exacting, smart and ruthless with the younger girl as being the type who likes to pull wings off flies".

Chandler's novels do highlight crooks and morally-corrupt characters and derelicts, but they are counter-balanced by Marlowe, Bernie Ohls, and General Sternwood--all of whom possess a strong sense of honor, a consideration of what is proper and are for the most part trying to live a life above board.

There are numerous murders that take place in all three of these detective Marlowe novels and a tight interwoven plot which will keep you on the edge of your seat until you get to the last page.

Just as an interesting sideline, when THE BIG SLEEP (the first of Chandler's novels) was published in 1939 there was only an advance of 5,000 copies by Alfred A. Knopf. However, Knopf knew the power and the contribution that this novel would make. They actually took out an advertisement for this book on the front cover of the Publisher's Weekly which was most unusual for a novelist's first book.

The dust jacket flaps read:

"Not since Dashiell Hammett appeared has there been a murder mystery story with the power, pace, and terrifying atmosphere of this one. And like Hammett's this is more than a "murder mystery": it is a novel of crime and character, written with uncommon skill in a tight, tense style which is irresistible."

And so it was. I would highly recommend reading these crime novels and being introduced to Philip Marlowe. THE BIG SLEEP was made into a movie starring Bogart and Bacall with the screen play being written by William Faulkner no less.

Don't miss these novels. I almost did.

Rating: A

Bentley/2007
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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.
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The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Paperback - 15 Jun. 2011)
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