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The Big Sleep [Paperback]

Raymond Chandler
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 18.00
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Book Description

July 12 1988 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in.

"Chandler [writes] like a slumming angel and invest[s] the sun-blinded streets of Los Angelos with a romantic presence."
--Ross Macdonald

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From Amazon

"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."

From Library Journal

Chandler is not only the best writer of hardboiled PI stories, he's one of the 20th century's top scribes, period. His full canon of novels and short stories is reprinted in trade paper featuring uniform covers in Black Lizard's signature style. A handsome set for a reasonable price.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Chandler is, bar none, the best writer of the so-called "hard boiled detective" genre, and this is his greatest work.
In a labyrinthine plot featuring corrupt, orchid-growing millionaires, beautiful blondes, gray men with guns and the cynical, deeply romantic narrator-protagonsit Marlowe, we see Los Angeles of the 1940s as Marlowe looks for the truth about murder, pornography and, ultimately, loss.
The sheer genius of Chandler's writing-- aside from the accompished plot twists-- is his deceptively simple language, which sparkles, and his narrator's deadpan wit. From the descriptions of women ("Inside was a blonde. A blonde! A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.") to the caustic remarks in the face of death ("She would either shoot me, or she wouldn't.") to his existential comments ("I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun"), Marlowe is as entertainign to lsiten to as he is to watch.
Chandler's achievement here goes beyond the action sequences, or the wit of his narrator, or the complexity of his plots. His narrator, the tough-as-nails Marlowe, appeals because he is profoundly romantic at heart, but doomed, like Hamlet, to be disappointed. Like Hamlet-- who writes a play to discover the origins of his misery-- Marlowe too is a storyteller, whose stories lead to one kind of understanding, where actions and sequences finally cohere. But Marlowe's dilemmas are Hamlet's, in that although he can tell the story, his sense of what it all means at the end is far from complete.
Chandler's stories are really about people who are lost. Marlowe's quest to find the body and re-tell the story-- although always successful-- is always undermined by his elliptical and understated awareness that, for all our ingenuity and striving, it all ultimately comes down, as it does for Hamlet and for all of us, to the big sleep.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed. April 18 2004
Originally published in 1939, The Big Sleep is the first novel to feature fiction's legendary private eye, Philip Marlowe. The book starts off with Marlowe visiting the majestic estate of dying millionaire, General Guy Sternwood. As the General hires Marlowe to investigate a bookdealer who is extorting him for one thousand dollars, he happens to mention that he sorely misses the company of his son-in-law, an ex-bootlegger, who has inexplicably disappeared. A very fast paced and eventful search for the truth ensues, during which Marlowe encounters many colorful characters. Topping the list are the two wild Sternwood daughters, Carmen and Vivian.
The Big Sleep contains subject matter considered racy by 1939 standards. Specifically, pornography and homosexuality both play key roles in advancing the story. Chandler's writing is no less than masterful. The dialogue snaps, the descriptive passages are vivid and the complex plot comes together at the end.
There are really two main characters, Marlowe himself and the city of Los Angeles. Marlowe is a loner and if he is not an alcoholic, he could easily be mistaken for one. Always ready with withering put downs, he is a world class cynic who paradoxically adheres to a high minded code of honor. Los Angeles is portrayed as a dreary place, often rain soaked and in the throes of serious growing pains. The claustraphobic, shattered lives of many of its inhabitants made all the more grotesque by the coexisting wealth and glamor.
The Big Sleep has earned its reputation as an American classic and definitely qualifies as a must read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Noir with capital N March 10 2004
In the world of noir literature Raymond Chandler is the undisputable king. With his novels starred by the private Detective Philip Marlowe he creates an unique world that set the patter for the novels -- and later the movies --called noir.
Written in 1939, 'The Big Sleep' is his first novel featuring Marlowe. And it was so successful that became a franchise, but what's more important, it influenced almost every single writer who tackled detective fiction. The plot is not the most important thing in this novel. It is complicated and confusing, so leaving it aside, one can enjoy all the undertones that are part of Chandler's work.
More than a single genre, Noir is a way of life --for a writer, at least. Everything matters in the book, that's why the narrative is so full of a vivid description of places and women mostly. It is hard to follow who is blackmailing who and why. But it is a joy to read the description of a cigarette being lit by a woman, or the way the smoke dissolves. These descriptions are what make the prose so full of texture and brilliant. Not to mention the Californian glamour that surrounds every single page of the book. Those rich people know how to live end have pleasure.
Marlowe is one of the best --if not THE best-- detective created in the literature. Before him, they used to be a little boring and too nice. Marlowe is violent, visceral and he is not worried of being nice and gentle. In his trip into the darker side of the underworld he comes across every kind of criminal --which, by the way, are so alive that one starts wondering how Chandler knew so much.
All in all, Chandler is one of the most important writers of detective thrillers ever, and influenced hundreds of other authors --in positive and negative ways --, but in case of doubt stick to the original.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 days ago by Mag
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth the time if you're planning to watch the movie
An interesting read from a historical perspective for those who want to explore the origins of the detective 'film noire' genre, but a little dated for today's readers and lacking... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome hard boiled noir!
I bought this after watching the movie repeatedly. If you like the movie this book won't let you down. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Sleep
Très bonne histoire policière! Je le recommande à tout ceux qui aime de genre de livre de le lire, et pour ceux qui ne sont pas capable de lire anglais, je... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Anne-Marie
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Pulp Fiction
This novel could certainly never be considered high art, but the writing is certainly stylish, and the characters have a real life mixture of strength and frailty that make them... Read more
Published on June 6 2008 by Craig Jenkins
5.0 out of 5 stars Genre Defining Classic
The first book of Chandler's Philip Marlowe series is an especially interesting read for those who've seen the classic film with Bogey and Bacall. Read more
Published on May 27 2004 by "loopylou38"
2.0 out of 5 stars Chandler's Unpolished Debut in Hardboiled Tradition
In his debut novel to introduce private eye Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler seems to have combined two different short story materials into one plot. Read more
Published on March 16 2004 by jazzest
1.0 out of 5 stars What is the point?
Review of the book The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
What was the point, January 14, 2004
Reviewer: Sleepy-head, from Nowhere
I know that the setting of this book... Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars father of noir
This is the place to start if you like noir writing. If you like Parker, MacDonald, Connelly, or Burke, this is the book will be for you. Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by "skidz75"
5.0 out of 5 stars The Big Amazingly, Unexpectedly Good Novel
Raymond Chandler's first novel, The Big Sleep, is the best mystery/crime novel I've ever read and even one of the best novels I've ever read. Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by Mollie Taylor
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