Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Little SisterThe Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A woman from a small Kansas town hires Philip Marlowe to find her missing brother. What Marlowe finds is himself ensnared in a web of drugs, blackmail, and murder...

As I've said many times, noir fiction and I go together like a bottle of cheap vodka and nightmares about being chased by coyotes. The Little Sister by the esteemed Raymond Chandler is no exception.

It may be because it's been a few months since I've read one of Raymond Chandler's oddly poetic noir masterpieces but I liked The Little Sister almost as much as Farewell, My Lovely but not as much as The Big Sleep. Chandler's simile-ridden prose pushes Marlowe from one sordid event to the next, making the bloody trip as pleasurable as a walk on the beach.

As is usual for a Chandler book, the plot meanders all over the place. Marlowe takes a kicking but keeps pushing his way forward, solving the case through a combination of luck, good detective work, and top notch dialog.

The case looked simple when it was just Ormafay looking for Orrin. Throw in the blackmail angle with Mavis Weld, some thug named Steelgrave, and people getting murdered with ice picks to the neck every other chapter and I had no idea where things were going for a good portion of the book.

The trip to the end was confusing but quite pleasurable due to Chandler's sublime prose. I lost track of all the one-liners I wanted to remember. "His nose had been broken and set but hadn't ever been a collector's item" is the first one that springs to mind.

I know I saw it with every Raymond Chandler book I review but this is a must read for noir and detective fiction fans. It's an easy four stars.

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