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VINE VOICEon 23 April 2012
'What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.'

I only started reading Raymond Chandler's books because they were next to Agatha Christie on the library shelves. But almost from the first paragraph of The Big Sleep I was hooked and I've read the entire series now.

I love the snappy dialogue, the memorable descriptions and the marvellous evocation of life on the Californian coast. In the first chapter here, we meet members of the rich, crazy Sternwood family and its patriarch, in an overheated glasshouse filled with orchids ('those nasty flowers'). More importantly, we're introduced to Philip Marlowe and his hard-drinking, wise-cracking, disrespectful ways.

Above all, I relish the moral subtlety of the book. Unlike most mysteries, the hero decides (like Miss Marple) that sometimes it is best to let sleeping murder lie and allow people to keep their illusions if the truth will do no other than harm them.

In short then, a fun, readable masterpiece.
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on 13 December 2015
This was chosen by our book club, so it's not my usual choice. I struggled with the language a little, and I found the descriptions a little wearing, but this is because I usually like a good easy thriller and I was a little frustrated with the 'frills'. I had also seen the film years ago and so I found the descriptions unnecessary for me personally. But it is very well written and is a good view of the place and time it was written. The character of Philip Marlowe came alive magnificently, as a unique hero. Fabulous character invented by Chandler.
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on 20 July 2015
I am not a big fan of detective/police crime stories so I hardly buy these books. But as Chandler is known as THE classical detective story writer I gave it a try and honestly I was not dissapointed. The story is sometimes funny with great characters and you can hardly believe that it is written in the late 30's of previous century as it reads like a crime story in 50's or 60's LA. Ok Chandler makes the plot sometimes complicated but in the end you get the whole picture
I enjoyed it and will also read The Long Goodbye
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on 13 November 2016
I found the attitude and casual violence towards women and homosexuals quite shocking, while viewing it through twenty-first century values of sexual equality, however, it was this very slant that gave the book its authentic feel and as far as private-eye books go, it's one of the first but not one of the best. The plot has pace, plenty of clues and red herrings to enjoy, with a satisfactory conclusion. It evokes a grainy, rainy LA synonymous with film nor, yet I write this in LA and it's very sunny! It is an enjoyable romp worth reading even if just for the historical value of such a book.
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on 17 October 2016
Oh my word this is good. Chandler is a master of description and tone. Why doesn't everyone write like him?> He's succinct and dry and much funnier than the genre suggests. Brilliant.
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on 3 June 2017
What a great stylist Chandler was-it seemed so easy for him and as a first novel we enter that dark,sleazy yet exciting underworld we seem so familiar with now and become entranced by the poetry of Marlowe...
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on 22 December 2014
The first Philip Marlowe novel, redolent of between-wars America: prohibition recently repealed, plenty of drugs about, porn, racketeering, blackmail & violence. Like all Chandler novels, the plot is fairly intricate & it benefits re-reading. There is a first-person narrator, but he doesn't share all his thoughts.
The cover design is, IMHO, crap: clumsy & garish, and the lettering (one can hardly call it a typeface) barbarous.
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on 22 September 2014
I love Elliott Gould reading Chandler. He doesn't attempt different voices for all the characters, but his inflection and tone are perfectly realised and he obviously understands perfectly Chandler's 'intentions' -if that's the right word. I prefer this kind of reading over the dramatisations that are available and I can listen over and over to Elliott Gould's deep brown, treacly voice reading such sublime prose. Wonderful stuff.
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on 18 November 2016
I hadn't read any Chandler books before this one, and I don't think I've seen the film (I'm probably in a small minority). Yes it's dated in its attitudes to women, non-whites etc, and the constant drinking and smoking are a little amusing nowadays. However, that aside I was surprised just how good the writing was - the now-famous witty asides and the dense plotting. Very enjoyable, a nice bit of escapism.
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on 11 March 2013
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.
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