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The Little Sister (1949)

by Raymond Chandler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Philip Marlowe (5)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,375556,158 (3.89)91
Fiction. Mystery. HTML:Crime fiction master Raymond Chandler's fifth novel featuring Philip Marlowe, the "quintessential urban private eye" (Los Angeles Times). 

In noir master Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, a movie starlet with a gangster boyfriend and a pair of siblings with a shared secret lure private eye Philip Marlowe into the less than glamorous and more than a little dangerous world of Hollywood fame. Chandler's first foray into the industry that dominates the company town that is Los Angeles.… (more)
  1. 32
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (btuckertx)
    btuckertx: If you enjoyed The Little Sister, you're going to love The Big Sleep!
  2. 01
    Chasing Darkness by Robert Crais (Bookmarque)
    Bookmarque: If you liked the more noir-ish voice Crais comes back to here, give Chandler a go - TLS is his best IMO.

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» See also 91 mentions

English (49)  Swedish (2)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  All languages (54)
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
Not as good as many of his others. But it's still Chandler, so still pretty good. ( )
  rumbledethumps | Nov 25, 2023 |
Plain Little Orfamay Quest comes to Philip Marlowe, asking him to find her brother Orrin, who has disappeared from the boarding house he was staying in after moving from Manhattan, Kansas. she's so cheap she only pays him $20 for a retainer, but he gives it back to her.
One of the main enjoyments from reading these Philip Marlowe detective stories, is seeing how cheap everything was in those days. For instance, to buy a pack of cigarettes, you would give a quarter, and get change back! The most fancy houses around Los Angeles would be $70,000, and that was considered a lot of money!
The story oozes mood.
"Once, long ago, it must have had a certain elegance. But no more. The memories of old cigars clung to its lobby like the dirty gilt on its ceiling and the sagging springs of its leather lounging chairs. The marble of the desk had turned a yellowish brown with age. But the floor carpet was new and had a hard look, like the room clerk. I passed him up and strolled over to the cigar counter in the corner and put down a quarter for a package of Camels. The girl behind the counter was a straw blonde with a long neck and tired eyes. She put the cigarettes in front of me, added a packet of matches, dropped my change into a slotted box marked 'The Community Chest Thanks You.' 'you'd want me to do that, wouldn't you,' she said, smiling patiently. 'You'd want to give your change to the poor little underprivileged kids with bent legs and stuff, wouldn't you?' "

Raymond Chandler sees a different Los Angeles than the tourists do:
" I drove East on Sunset but I didn't go home. At La Brea I turned North and swung over to Highland, out over Cahuenga Pass and down onto Ventura Boulevard, past studio City and Sherman Oaks and Encino. There was nothing lonely about the trip. There never is on that road. Fast boys in stripped down Fords shot in and out of the traffic streams, missing Fenders by a 16th of an inch, but somehow always missing them. Tired men in Dusty coupés and sedans winced and tightened their grip on the wheel and plowed on North and West towards home and dinner, an evening with the sports page, the blatting of the radio, The whining of their spoiled children and the gabble of their silly wives. I drove on past the gaudy neons and the false fronts behind them, the sleazy hamburger joints that looked like palaces under the colors, the circular drive-ins as gay as circuses and the chipper hard-eyed carhops, the brilliant counters, and the sweaty greasy kitchens that would have poisoned a toad. great double trucks Rumbled down over Sepulveda from Wilmington and San Pedro and crossed toward the Ridge Route, starting up in low-low from the traffic lights with a growl of lions in the zoo."

Marlowe finds out that Orrin is staying with a doctor of the name of Lagardie in Bay City. He goes to visit the doctor, and finds a couple of strange things about the good doctor. For one thing, Dr Lagardie likes the taste of blood. For another thing, he seems to have an unusual amount of needles in the sterilizer in the corner of his office:
" 'let me tell you about the needles,' I said.
'By all means.' He picked the long thin knife up again.
'Don't do that,' I said sharply. 'It gives me the creeps. Like petting snakes.'
He put the knife down again gently and smiled. 'We do seem to talk in circles,' he suggested.
'we'll get there. About the needles. a couple of years back I had a case that brought me down here and mixed me up with a doctor named Almore. Lived over on Altair Street. He had a funny practice. Went out nights with a big case of hypodermic needles - all ready to go. Loaded with the stuff. He had a peculiar practice. Drunks, Rich junkies, of whom there are far more than people think, overstimulated people who had driven themselves beyond the possibility of relaxing. Insomniacs - all the neurotic types that can't take it cold. Have to have their little pills and little shots in the arm. Have to help them over the humps. It gets to be all humps after a while. Good business for the doctor. Almore was the doctor for them. It's all right to say it now. He died a year or so back. Of his own medicine.' "
What was the name of Michael Jackson's doctor? ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
The usual Chandler. Full of what we like in a Marlowe novel, however considerably grimmer than previous novels. Chandler gives us a real look into the abyss through Marlowe's eyes. Nobody here is sympathetic, nobody, Marlowe included. Marlowe is so overcome by ennui in the end he lets the last murder/suicide happen even though he knows it is going to happen and could probably have stopped it. Hide the razor blades while reading it. ( )
  Gumbywan | Jun 24, 2022 |
Both Chandler & Hammett feature many a woman who appears sweet & harmless on the surface but who turns out to be homicidally manipulative underneath. This is probably Chandler's magnum opus along those lines. I wonder if any feminist critiques have ever been written about such novels? The women are far from weak & submissive but they're hardly positive either. ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
The Little Sister (Marlowe #5) (1949) by Raymond Chandler. Yet another great book from the typewriter of Chandler. As usual, don’t try to follow the plot too closely, just relax and enjoy the characters and the writing. Marlowe is asked by a prim young woman from Kansas to track down her brother. He’s been in California for a while now but his family have stopped hearing from him.
Marlowe heads out to the last known residence of the young man, but he has flown the coop. And there is an icepick murder happening while Marlowe is there so the cops become interested in him. A lot of things happen and there are drugs and sex and more death as the case progresses. You know, the standard.
But, as with all Chandler’s novels, the writing is far from standard. And while you may have trouble following all the twists, I’ve always felt that makes the book more realistic than when the hero can always decipher all that is happening about him or her. After all, do you always know why things happen around you? I know I don’t, and that is when I know that most people are telling me the truth. With Marlowe, almost no-one likes to tell him the truth, although they sometimes hint about it.
Yet another great read from the master, just not quite five star material. ( )
  TomDonaghey | Dec 15, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Chandler, Raymondprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angell, OlavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
HavankTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nyytäjä, KaleviTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The pebbled glass door panel is lettered in flaked black paint: 'Phililp Marlowe... Investigations'. It is a reasonably shabby door at the end of a reasonably shabby corridor in the sort of building that was new about the year the all-tile bathroom became the basis of civilization. The door is locked, but next to it is another door with the same legend which is not locked. Come on in - there's nobody in here but me and a big bluebottle fly. But not if you're from Manhattan, Kansas.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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'The Little Sister' was republished as 'Marlowe'.
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Fiction. Mystery. HTML:Crime fiction master Raymond Chandler's fifth novel featuring Philip Marlowe, the "quintessential urban private eye" (Los Angeles Times). 

In noir master Raymond Chandler's The Little Sister, a movie starlet with a gangster boyfriend and a pair of siblings with a shared secret lure private eye Philip Marlowe into the less than glamorous and more than a little dangerous world of Hollywood fame. Chandler's first foray into the industry that dominates the company town that is Los Angeles.

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