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The Little Sister [Paperback]

Raymond Chandler
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 17.95
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Book Description

Aug. 12 1988 Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
A movie starlet with a gangster boyfriend and a pair of siblings with a shared secret lure 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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Product Description

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.


"Raymond Chandler is a master." --The New York Times

“[Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered.” --The New Yorker

“Chandler seems to have created the culminating American hero: wised up, hopeful, thoughtful, adventurous, sentimental, cynical and rebellious.” --Robert B. Parker, The New York Times Book Review

“Philip Marlowe remains the quintessential urban private eye.” --Los Angeles Times

“Nobody can write like Chandler on his home turf, not even Faulkner. . . . An original. . . . A great artist.” —The Boston Book Review

“Raymond Chandler was one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century. . . . Age does not wither Chandler’s prose. . . . He wrote like an angel.” --Literary Review

“[T]he prose rises to heights of unselfconscious eloquence, and we realize with a jolt of excitement that we are in the presence of not a mere action tale teller, but a stylist, a writer with a vision.” --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

“Chandler wrote like a slumming angel and invested the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence.” —Ross Macdonald

“Raymond Chandler is a star of the first magnitude.” --Erle Stanley Gardner

“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.” --Paul Auster

“[Chandler]’s the perfect novelist for our times. He takes us into a different world, a world that’s like ours, but isn’t. ” --Carolyn See

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's a lot here to enjoy. March 22 2004
Before reading this book, make sure you have a large blackboard and plenty of chalk. At least half a dozen different colors. Because that's what you'll need to diagram out the plot of The Little Sister. Keeping straight who's who and who did what to whom and why will give you plenty to do as you read and reread the pages of this Philip Marlowe mystery. Now I know what you're going to say. With Raymond Chandler, it's not about the story, it's about atmosphere. True enough. But I still have to believe that the reader's enjoyment is greatly enhanced if the writer has provided a coherent plot as a framework for displaying literary dexterity. In other words, the story itself isn't all important, but it is somewhat important.
As I see it, there are no less than four ways to view this novel.
The first way is as a murder mystery. A young woman from Manhattan (Manhattan, Kansas that is) hires Marlowe to find her missing brother. His subsequent search does eventually locate the young man but not before a drunk and a grifter are both murdered with an ice pick to the vicinity of the medulla oblongata. What is the motive behind these grotesque slayings? The motive is the urgent need to find a particular photograph. A photograph that shows two people sitting down to dinner in a restaurant. I'm not kidding.
The second way to view The Little Sister is as an affectionate sendup of noir crime writing in general and Dashiell Hammett's Maltese Falcon in particular. This might explain why the complications are endless and so very difficult to follow. Perhaps Chandler felt the need to exaggerate the number and degree of plot twists in order to make a satiric point.
Thirdly, The Little Sister is a withering look at Hollywood and the recognizable types who dwell within.
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Over the course of the last 2 years I've read 5 out of the 7 Philip Marlowe detective novels of Raymond Thornton Chandler (1888-1959). "The Little Sister" (1949) is the fifth Marlowe novel, and even though parts of it intrigued me, I couldn't help but feel a tad disappointed...
By 1944, Chandler had become a household name both in the USA and around the world for his tough-yet-sensitive, cynical-yet-romantic prose masterpieces. Around this time, Hollywood had come knocking. Chandler co-wrote the screeplay for "Double Indemnity" with Billy Wilder, and the first Marlowe novel "The Big Sleep" was made into a classic motion picture starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The money came rolling in: Chandler and his wife Cissy moved into a luxurious house in L.A.'s ritzy Pacific Palisades section. The Hollywood temptation came as well: Chandler began an affair with a secretary at Paramount Pictures and his chronic alcoholism--which was already bad--began to worsen.
In addition, during this time (the late 1940s), Los Angeles was rapidly transforming from what was once a small, coastal, desert community when Chandler had first moved there 30 years prior--into the enormous, sprawling, congested, and smoggy metropolis it is today. It's telling that Chandler moved 100 miles south to La Jolla, CA not long after this book was published.
One can sense while reading "The Little Sister" that Chandler was becoming bitter and weary--not only at the direction of his own life and the Hollywood movie machine (where writers are traditionally the low man on the totem pole) but also how his adopted home was changing...and not for the better, calling L.A. "a neon slum" and "a big, hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper cup.
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5.0 out of 5 stars More than a Crime Novelist Sept. 15 2002
The latest in a long series of visits to LA had me refreshing my memory of one of my favourite novelists. As a young man I knew the Philip Marlowe books nearly by heart before I ever set foot in the city they put on the literary map. I have always thought that Chandler counts as literature not just as crime fiction. He was a professed admirer of the ultra-craftsman Flaubert, and it shows in the way he works at every sentence, indeed every word. He was English and as far as I know unrelated to the 'real' LA Chandlers (he attended the same school as P G Wodehouse, if you can believe it). He maintained that 'the American language' can say anything and in The Simple Art of Murder he took a brilliant potshot at the Agatha Christie school of English crime fiction , all tight-lipped butlers polishing the georgian silver and respectful upper-middles gathered to hear the amateur master-sleuth analyse over 5 or 6 pages which of them dunnit. His power of creating atmosphere is phenomenal, his dialogue is legendary, and for me The Little Sister is the best of the 7 Marlowes. It's at the crest of the hill, before he started to lose concentration in The Long Goodbye and lost just about everything in the sad Playback. I can still feel the heavy heat at the start of the book, and the dialogue is the best he ever did. Is there any other instance of anyone silencing Marlowe with an answer the way the beat-up hotel dick does when Marlowe tells him he is going up to room such-and-such and the hotel dick says 'Am I stopping you?'. And I cherish the bit about the same character tucking his gun into his waistband 'in an emergency he could probably have got it out in less than a minute'. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A dud!
I can certainly appreciate why this was (and is ) considered one of his lesser novels. He seems to be trying to duplicate the success of his previous work and it ain't working!
Published 6 months ago by Bill Armstrong
4.0 out of 5 stars one of Chandler's better detective stories..
Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe detective stories certain vary in quality. While always capturing the ambiance on 1940s sleazy Los Angeles, the author often constructs mysteries... Read more
Published on Sept. 15 2002 by lazza
4.0 out of 5 stars Cool
I liked the female character (the little sis) ... reminds me of Maltese Falcon. Neatly written. What can one say about Chandler - his style is gripping and really entertaining. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002 by Puneet Tanwar
5.0 out of 5 stars Another convoluted mystery for Philip Marlowe to unravel.
The overly restrained Orfamay Quest (from Manhattan, Kansas) hires Philip Marlowe to find her recently gone missing brother, Orrin. Read more
Published on April 18 2002 by Chadwick H. Saxelid
3.0 out of 5 stars An underrated and underestimated effort
Postwar L.A. -- and especially Hollywood -- is the setting for Chandler's fifth Marlowe novel which, like the time and place (and the author himself), is a little "off. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2001 by Paul Dana
4.0 out of 5 stars Orfamay and Marlowe; wise cracks and skewed sisters.
Orfamay Quest is the little sister. Marlowe is the man. The story offers sex and murder. The dialogue is Chandler. So why is there no click, no snap? Read more
Published on May 18 2001 by Patrick McCormack
5.0 out of 5 stars What an awesome writer
Raymond Chandler is possibly the greatest detective fiction writer of all time. The only people that even hold a candle to him are Hammet and in some ways Mickey Spillane. Read more
Published on Dec 22 2000 by Kenneth Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read from Raymond Chandler
"The Little Sister" was my introduction to Raymond Chandler and his immortal private detective, Philip Marlowe. Read more
Published on March 29 2000 by matthew cunningham
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as impressed as I thought I would be...
Having read every other "Marlow" novel, I figured that this would follow the pattern established by the previous stories, each one being better than the last. Read more
Published on Dec 29 1999 by Chris Longhorn
5.0 out of 5 stars Top flight 'thirties style mystery drama. L.A.'s seamy past.
I just finished reading "The High Window" and got hooked so I went right out and bought "The Little Sister". I'm not sorry. It's even better! Read more
Published on Oct. 2 1999
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