Customer Reviews


70 Reviews
5 star:
 (44)
4 star:
 (18)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect writing, massive wit, and philosophical, too!
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,...
Published on June 13 2004 by Chris Stolz

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it's noir.
I'm not into detective stories, and I had never read Chandler before this; neither have I seen the movie. So, I guess my opinion could be seen as quite objective. Did I like it? Why not - it had a certain sense of style, a certain fascination, present in every comment by every character. As it comes to dialogue, Chandler is a master. That's easy to admit.
That much...
Published on April 1 1999


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars perfect writing, massive wit, and philosophical, too!, June 13 2004
By 
Chris Stolz (canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed., April 18 2004
By 
Michael G. "mikefromrochester" (Rochester, NY United States) - See all my reviews
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Noir with capital N, March 10 2004
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars This is where it all began, July 13 2003
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
Raymond Chandler's very first attempt at a detective novel was a clear winner. The Big Sleep features a complex plot and a fantastic character - Philip Marlowe.
Chandler set his story in the gritty streets of Los Angeles, with a detective who was known for doing the right thing rather than what he was told to do. Philip Marlowe became an instant icon not only amongst mystery and detective fans, but among readers everywhere. When this became a movie in 1945 with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, even though the movie cut out a lot of the plot complexities, the characters affected the lives of millions.
Chandler's writing style is simply phenomonal. He describes the ins and outs of the city and its suburbs, giving you vivid impressions of that world. He moves from lush mansions to dingy bars, with each character having strong motivations, backgrounds, reasons for being.
In a time when minorities were discounted as meaningless and women were considered the "lesser sex", Marlowe plows right in with a fair eye for all. He takes on work with blacks that others disdain. He treats women as being intelligent while others discount them. The stories talk about homosexuality and porn and other topics as a "part of life". It's interesting how much of the books had to be 'white washed' to be made into movies.
If you read this story and then read many of today's detective stories, you can see clear traces of what Chandler began in the works of others. His style, his incredible humor, his honor and justice. His desire to do what was right even when others around him pushed him to do the "easy thing". A Big Sleep is a must read for any mystery fan, to see where it all began.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars The American crime novel stem cell., March 29 2003
By 
M J Heilbron Jr. "Dr. Mo" (Long Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
Yup. Any modern American crime novel worth it's salt can trace it's genetic lineage back to this book.
To be initiated into the world of Raymond Chandler without formal introduction was an exhilarating experience. Yes, it's hard to not use the term "hard-boiled", as his work is often simplistically described, but it was so much more than that. Oh so much more. Or is it that most other hard-boiled writers offer so much less...?
First of all, I laughed. A lot. Do you know how difficult it is to write comedy? To write something that causes someone to laugh out loud? The dialogue here is to die for. To. Die. For.
I agree with others who compare Chandler's Los Angeles to Dickens' London. After reading those authors, it becomes second nature to imagine life there. You can see what exists beyond the page. Another exceedingly difficult feat to perform, but Chandler here makes it look effortless.
Most important, we see the creation of a character as indelible as Holmes in Phillip Marlowe. Chandler was lucky to have had Bogart play him in the film; it's a perfect match. You see his face, deliver these lines with that voice, while you're reading this book. It's crime novel nirvana.
With his first novel, Chandler vaulted into the pantheon of great crime novelists. I think time has proven he's also a great American novelist.
His other six novels sit on my shelf, beckoning me as I type this...I gotta go now...
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Set the Bloody Bar for Every Other American Mystery Writer, March 12 2003
By 
S. Dufrechou (Memphis, Tennessee United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
When "The Big Sleep" was first released it was dismissed by those in the literary community as a worthless, pop-culture, dime-store novel. Now, If a book is compared to a Chandler novel, it is a bigger compliment than a Hemmingway comparison (Ernest's "Machismo" theme has fallen flat). Aside from the fact that Chandler's novels are just SO DAMNED FUN, they also set the bar for what a good detective novel should be. Chandler's protagonist in this and all of his major works, Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, is by far one of the most memorable in ALL 20th century literature. He has come to embody what the cool-headed, quick-witted, tough-guy detective is supposed to be in Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction (in both Books and Film). To define an entire genre is no small feat and happens once in a blue moon, thus "The Big Sleep" has become an importaint book for those who are mystery-lovers and those who are not. Looking back at what America has produced in the last 100 years, it would be safe to say that "The Big Sleep" is one of the most importaint and influential works to be published.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Superb prose, plot and characters, March 1 2003
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
Raymond Chandler's prose was nothing short of brilliant, yet his writing was primarily pulp fiction. In 1939, his novel "The Big Sleep" was published, one of his best, although all of them are good. There weren't many of them. Chandler was not a young man when he began writing. By the time he died in 1959, he'd published possibly 8 novels and 2 volumes of short stories.
But what he did write is incredibly good. His prose is masterful. His turns of phrase are frequently original and quite entertaining. His grammar, syntax, vocabulary, metaphors and similes are all so perfectly tuned to his story that the writing style alone would keep the pages turning.
In "The Big Sleep," Chandler spins a yarn that is not only engaging, but one of the most exciting whodunits ever written. I've never read any author who could create images in my mind the way Chandler does -- it is as though I'm touring greater Los Angeles in 1939 when I read this book. (In fact, when I read Chandler, I've never had sharper or more gratifying mental images of what's transpiring in a book -- and when I put the book down I feel as though I'd been dreaming lucidly and vividly.
Not only is the plot of "The Big Sleep" intriguing, it's masterfully convoluted -- you can't see around Chandler's many unexpected corners and the twists and turns are thrilling.
Philip Marlowe, 6'1" tall, 180 pounds, handsome, driven by integrity, loved by the ladies, is one of the most memorable detective protagonists in the genre. In this story, he is engaged to deal with the wealthy, profligate Sternwood sisters by their dying father, General Sternwood, and as a result Marlowe finds himself involved in blackmail and murder. It amazes me that this story was written in 1939 -- it also involves pornography and homosexuality. (Don't worry -- no pornographic detail is described, but one of the bad guys markets porn, and one of them is gay.)
You have to pay close attention to this novel to stay on top of the plot as it wends its tortuous way from start to end -- but, in its final pages, the many unexplained questions resolve beautifully.
Once you've read a Chandler novel, I think you'll want to read more of them and soon. It's sad there aren't very many. His short stories are wonderful too, and one of the collections contains his very interesting essay on the genre of the mystery novel, again written masterfully and engagingly.
A footnote: "The Big Sleep" made for classic film noir starring Bogart and Bacall, made toward the end of World War II and released in 1945. The film is great, but enough is left out of the plot thanks in part to the Hays Commission that the convoluted story can be hard to follow at times and a few loose ends remain untied at the finish. The movie is one of the best I've seen, but reading the novel fills in the lacunae in the movie's plot. Neither 1939 novel nor 1945 film is to be missed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Meet Philip Marlowe, Dec 28 2002
By 
Jeffrey Leach (Omaha, NE USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
"The Big Sleep," written in 1939, was Raymond Chandler's first Philip Marlowe novel. Chandler went on to write several other classic noir novels, like "Farewell, My Lovely," "The High Window," and "The Long Goodbye." Chandler did not start writing his classic works until the age of forty-five, when he began submitting short stories to pulp magazines like Mask. Sadly, Chandler died in 1959, effectively depriving us of more classic Marlowe novels and stories. The shame of the whole thing is Chandler did not start writing until late in his life, although seeing how some great authors decline over the course of their careers perhaps it is best we only have a few novels from Raymond Chandler.
"The Big Sleep" finds Marlowe in the employ of General Sternwood, a wealthy but dying oil tycoon. Sternwood wants Marlowe to track down a blackmailer who is trying to bleed some money out of the old general. The problem is Sternwood's two daughters, Carmen and Vivian. Both women have major problems; Carmen is just plain weird, suffering from seizures and a penchant for sleeping around with scum of the earth types. Vivian is not much better; she is a heavy gambler who dates (and marries) mob types. In the course of working the case, Marlowe uncovers underground pornography shops, blackmailers, gambling dens, a couple of murders, and other seedy events in the growing town of Los Angeles. Like other Chandler novels, what we initially see is hardly the whole enchilada. While working the case, Marlowe stumbles on deeper and deeper mysteries involving a missing mobster and his abducted wife.
While "The Big Sleep" is Chandler's best known work, it is not his best novel. It seems that Chandler is still working out the style and form later expressed so gallantly in "The Long Goodbye." "The Big Sleep" is classic Chandler; there is plenty of the gritty atmosphere, amusing wordplay and slang, and despicable characters found in Chandler's later novels. The problem with "The Big Sleep" is that the story does not hold together well. Far too often, I found myself wondering why things happened the way they did, or I had trouble following the twists and turns of the case.
Even a somewhat confusing story line does not cause much damage to the entertainment value of "The Big Sleep." You still get the classic snappy dialogue between Marlowe and everyone he encounters, and that is always fun to read. Even more exciting is the realization that you are reading the first book length effort from a master of noir fiction. You can see how he develops his technique by comparing this book with his later novels.
What is also amusing is seeing how Chandler paints L.A. at the end of the 1930's. By that time, Los Angeles had yet experienced the enormous growth of the post World War II era. At one point, one of the characters in the book states that L.A. is still a growing town. You have to chuckle over Marlowe's discovery of a pornography shop operating with police protection-this in what is today the home of the pornography industry!
Any fans of Chandler will want to read "The Big Sleep" eventually, although I recommend starting with some of his later novels first. Nearly forty-five years after Chandler's death, there is still no one who can touch the master. That fact alone should convince anyone interested in crime novels to read everything Chandler ever wrote.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A Cut Above . . ., Nov. 20 2002
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
Though I'm not much of a detective fiction fan, I was drawn to try this one because I'd heard the names of Raymond Chandler, and Philip Marlowe, his creation, since I was a boy. A short, moody and convoluted tale of a tough-guy detective with a brain and real moxie, this one lives up to its hard boiled reputation.
Marlowe shows up at the Sternwood estate to undertake a quickie investigation into an apparent blackmail attempt (and, hopefully, to suppress the matter) at the behest of a dying old man who is clinging to life even as he angles to protect the two miscreant daughters of his twilight years. Both daughters are wild and careless of others, and prone to fall in with bad company . . . and to do even worse things. But Marlowe soon learns that the trail to the putative blackmailer he must follow leads inevitably from murder to murder, while the one person who means the most to old man Sternwood still hovers, missing, in the background. What happened to ex-bootlegger Rusty Regan and why did he take a powder when he had everything going for him including the beautiful elder daughter, and all the money she stood to inherit, of General Sternwood?
As Marlowe follows one trail into another, the deaths get messier, the cops get angrier and Marlowe approaches his own brush with mortality at the hands of a deadly gangland enforcer. The dark and decadent ambience of mid-twentieth century L.A. hangs like a sullen rain cloud over this entire tale as Marlowe fumbles about, trying to figure the real mystery behind the series of apparently coincidental killings he is faced with until, in the end, he confronts the big sleep that awaits us all.
This tale seemed rambling and almost accidental in its construction, just like real life, albeit with a tad more style. And it kept me hooked and satisfied, like a good drag on a newly lit cigarette in a noirish Bogart flick, right through to the end. I'm ready for another.
SWM
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars I guess they had sex in those days, too, Sept. 20 2002
Ce commentaire est de: The Big Sleep (Paperback)
This book is from the era of the golden age of the detective movie. It's a black and white world full of deceit and double crosses. And if you just watch the movies from that time, there is a lot of passion, but no sex.
Now if you read books, like this excellent one, you can see that people were just as nasty and sensous when it comes to sex and we are now. And maybe they did it with a little more style, too.
The novel covers a case that involves pornography, so I guess they had that in those days, too. It covers a pair of rich young women who are as loose as one can imagine. People don't take their clothes off in the movies from that time, but they sure do in the book.
Ok, there's more to it than the above. If you read this book for the first time, and didn't know that much about the background, you might think it a bit cliched'. You have the wisecracking detective who has a smart line even when a gun it pointed at him. Heard this a lot of times before, right? Well, this is one of the original that had this style. And even if I've heard the type before, reading this book for the first time made me appreciate Raymond Chandler's style. Not only has it been copied countless times, but it stands up as a better work than many of it's imitators.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Big Sleep
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Paperback - July 12 1988)
CDN$ 18.00 CDN$ 13.00
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews