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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep (original 1939; edition 1988)

by Raymond Chandler

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6,863199534 (3.98)502
Title:The Big Sleep
Authors:Raymond Chandler
Info:Vintage (1988), Paperback, 139 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

1930s (5)
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English (189)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (199)
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My mom is a reader of crime, mystery and detective storys as long as I can remember it and she slowly passed the love to her daugther. I grew up with Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie and now Lianne of Literarydiversion reminded me again of one series my mom used to love very much and it made her very happy that I started reading it. Knowing it is a hard boiled noir one, I didn't expected it to enjoy it as much as I did. One particular scene didn't turn out as I thought it would and that was such a delightful surprise. The dryness of humour made me smile even through some very dark moments. ( )
  SilkeMaria | Oct 12, 2016 |
Chandler's prose, rich with dark irony and a wonderful gift for descriptions makes this novel a standout crime mystery. The plot keeps you guessing right up to the final chapter and then when you think you have everything figured it out, Chandler unveil another layer to the story. Marlowe is a fabulous character, the definition of a hard-boiled detective. ( )
  Humberto.Ferre | Sep 28, 2016 |
This book is tricky to review.

The plot is overly complicated, torturous and completely baffling. If you ever solve one of Chandler's mysteries I think you deserve a doctorate.

I don't like Philip Marlowe, who is, by all accounts, one of the most notorious private investigators - the kind everyone else copied after these books were published. I don't like Philip Marlowe because he's a racist, sexist, homophobic pig of a man who knows of all his faults and refuses to do anything to change them.

The one thing that made me feel ill and uncomfortable (and this is a trigger warning) about halfway through the book there's an incredibly homophobic scene where Marlowe beats a guy until he's unconscious, purely for being gay. So, be careful of that. You can skip that scene, if you like. Do whatever you need to do. Whether it's the character or the writer, or in-character or out of it, whether it has a context or not, whether there's a point to be made, I will never be okay with homophobia that brutal and raw in a book ever.

... and yet the writing, some of the lines in this book are some of the best I have ever read. Some of the lines in this book capture something so vivid and so real I feel it in my bones.

So is it worth suffering through Marlowe's complete and utter clusterfuck of a case to read those lines? I think so.

... But it will definitely be a while before I read another Chandler again. Maybe a long time. Maybe I'll go read some really feminist books first.
( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
P.I. Philip Marlowe is called in by a rich invalid to solve a simple case of blackmail. Of course, the case doesn't stay simple for long. Like a pinball on a dimly lighted table, Marlowe caroms from one contact to another, following where the case takes him (and even beyond), meeting L.A.'s seamy underside.

In reading, I followed the case step by step, but if at the end I had to retrace the route it took, I don't think I could, having gotten tangled in the complexity. However, in reading Raymond Chandler, the joy is certainly in the journey, not the destination. He certainly knows how to spin his similes, and the setting of an L.A. with streetcars and interurban tracks, citrus groves landscaping Pasadena, and creaking oil derricks dotting the horizon, with hard-talking hoods and with corruption at all levels is classic.

Loved the ride! ( )
1 vote kvrfan | Aug 19, 2016 |

“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.”

It's been ages since I've read an older detective driven novel, but this one was a nice way to break the ice back into the genre. It was highly rated, but I'd never heard of it before it became a group read. Apparently there's a movie too; what rock have I been under?

Philip Marlowe is an "honest" guy - blunt and brash in the face of authority. Like many detectives, he goes by his own moral code and street system. He doesn't stick fully to the letter of the law, especially when it comes to revealing things he should, but he does right by his clients (if it fits to do so) and his conscience. The other key players aren't stereotypical exactly - we do get an ice-cold dame who wants to twist men around her fingers, but the older and ailing client who hires Marlowe has some uniqueness twisted in him. There's some crazy characters in here too that give it that bizarre touch. Characters suit the plot well but not really in cookie-cutter molds. If they are rather typical, I try to remember that since this is an older book, it was probably fresher then.

"“I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter evenings.”

The mystery part isn't shocking, but it is well thought out and it takes creative, patient paths to get there. Marlowe does have to actually investigate - he seldom sits back and thinks about the case - he's constantly moving on his feet and interrogating, witnessing messes, avoiding sticky violence himself, and pushing all the right buttons. So, pacing isn't bad, somethings always going on so the book flies by.

Raymond Chandler writes well and it's easy to suck into the written world he conjured up. It's definitely not politically correct, especially when it comes to comments on homosexuals and a little bit with Jews, but this was common of the time period it was written. I just find it kind of funny now, but then again I rarely choose to get offended much anything.

A good hardboiled detective type, complete with mafia type thugs, rich clients, questionable police associations and femme fatales.

( )
1 vote ErinPaperbackstash | Jun 14, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 189 (next | show all)
Novela repleta de nervio y de ingeniosos diálogos. Es un caso de chantaje el que lleva a Marlowe a asomarse a las alcantarillas de una sociedad en apariencia espléndida.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia

» Add other authors (55 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Raymond Chandlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Del Buono, OresteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gould, ElliottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidder, HarveyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ortlepp, GunarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories / The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely / The High Window (Library of America) by Raymond Chandler

A Treasury of Great Mysteries [Volume 2] by Howard Haycraft

The Big Sleep and Other Novels by Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep/Farewell, My Lovely/The High Window by Raymond Chandler

The Chandler Collection: Volume 1 by Raymond Chandler

Has the (non-series) sequel

Has the adaptation


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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.
Such a lot of guns around town, and so few brains.
Whoever had done it had meant business. Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
It had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact.
What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were 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.
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Book description
Plot Summary: The decrepit General Sternwood hires Detective Marlowe to investigate Geiger, the man who is blackmailing him. Marlowe discovers Geiger is running a pornography lending library under the front of an antique book store. Marlowe tries to confront Geiger, but finds Geiger dead along with evidence that Geiger has been taking nude photos of Sternwood’s youngest daughter Carmen. While Marlowe takes the drugged Carmen home, Geiger’s body disappears along with the photographic evidence. As one murder leads to another, Marlowe must follow the clues to protect the Sternwood family from its own dark secrets.
Appeal Factors: Private investigator subgenre. Narrated in the first-person by Marlowe. Primary characters are complex. The atmosphere is dark and brooding. The frame highlights the dark underbelly of L.A. The language is succinct, but very descriptive; powerful, gritty and realistic. Action scenes are suspenseful and fairly fast-paced, with space for reflection in between. The reader is drawn in as Marlowe uncovers each new layer of clues. Violent, but not graphic.
Haiku summary
General's daughters
are handful for Marlowe.....but
who did slay chauffeur?

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394758285, Paperback)

"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."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When a case of blackmail involving the daughter of a California millionaire leads to murder, the inimitable Philip Marlowe is stirred into action as he becomes embroiled in a troublesome case of extortion complicated by kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140108920, 0141037598

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