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The Little Sister Paperback – Aug 12 1988


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (Aug. 12 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039475767X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394757674
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.1 x 1.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,487 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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By Bill Armstrong on March 31 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. on March 22 2004
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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