The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler


Historical MysteryThe Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler The Big SleepRaymond Chandler; Modern Library 1995WorldCatGeneral Sternwood sends for private detective Philip Marlowe. The General is in his 70’s, bound in a wheelchair, a millionaire, and has two daughters on either side of 20 who are trouble. He has received a blackmail note about his younger daughter, Carmen. Both daughters have reputations for gambling and men. Vivian, the older sister, has already been married three times. Her third husband, an ex-bootlegger, disappeared a few months earlier.

Marlowe had done his homework and knew some about the daughters. He learned a lot more on his first visit to the Sternwoods. Both ooze sex and trouble. Carmen’s blackmail is over some outstanding gambling debts. Vivian gambles and may be dating a local Los Angeles crime boss. Carmen tries to seduce Marlowe when he visits the General. Vivian confronts Marlowe, wanting to know what her father hired him to do.

The job takes Marlowe on the trail of pornography shops, homosexuals, gambling, blackmail, and murder. Will he be able to protect the General from his own daughters?

Raymond Chandler “made” the hard boiled detective in Philip Marlowe. Like Dashiell Hammett before him, Chandler made Marlowe shady, ready to turn outside of the law if needed for what he thought just. Marlowe is the inspiration for all the smart aleck detectives now found in mysteries everywhere. The dialogue is crisp and to the point. Because this was written in the 1930’s, there’s little or no foul language written in this book. But the reader knows when it is used – Chandler is able to convey the realism without offending.

The Big Sleep’s story line twists around on itself, keeping the reader guessing. I didn’t quite follow how Marlowe solved the big mystery of the book, yet when I looked back I thought I could figure out the threads. Marlowe makes a number of intuitive leaps that aren’t always clear to the reader.

Welcome to the seamy side of Los Angeles in the 1930’s. There may have been a lot of stars and starlets, but there was also mystery and intrigue among the people who lived there.The Big Sleep gives a great snapshot of this time and this genre.

Notice:  Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations

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