The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The 2011-2012 re-read...
A paralyzed millionaire, General Sternwood, hires Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe to have a talk with a blackmailer with his hooks in his daughter. But what does his daughter's missing husband, Rusty Regan, have to do with it? Marlowe's case will get him entangled in a web of pornography and gambling from which he may never escape...
For the last few years, me and noir detective fiction have gone together as well as strippers and c-section scars. When the Pulp Fiction group announced this as it's January group read, I figured it was time to get reacquainted with one of the books that started the genre.
I'd forgotten most of the book in the past ten years so it was like a completely new one. One of the things that grabbed me right away was how poetic Raymond Chandler's prose seems at times. I'd intended on writing down some of the more clever bits but I quickly dropped that idea in favor of letting myself get taken along for the ride.
For a lot of today's readers, the plot and Philip Marlowe himself might not seem that original. That's because people have been ripping off Raymond Chandler for decades! Marlowe is the real deal. Now that I've read a few hundred more detective books since my original reading, I can appreciate how influential Marlowe is as a character.
The plot is a lot more complex than it originally seemed. I almost wish I didn't know the plot of the Big Leibowski was partly lifted from the Big Sleep. I kept picturing characters from the movie while I was reading. Hell, the plot is almost inconsequential. The atmosphere and language are the real stars of the show.
Five stars. If you're a fan of noir and haven't read this, drop what you're doing and get started!
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