Review: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

9780141037592It’s been 77 years since Knopf published The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s first novel. We’re still feeling the repercussions today, and really, still awaiting his successor. Chandler is that rare literary breed: unsurpassed. And, possibly, unsurpassable.

When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two daughters, things get complicated – fast. And while Marlowe’s profession is known for its impediments, these are the kinds of complications a person in any walk of life wants to avoid: kidnapping, pornography, murder. It’s a case any other private eye would walk away from. But not Marlowe. And not because of any chivalrous streak that exists somewhere inside of him. No, quite simply, he has bills to pay, and this is the one job he’s good at. As he puts it: “I’m selling what I have to sell to make a living.”

I’ve got my issues with The Big Sleep, despite its ranking as one of my all-time favourites. For a short novel, it’s too convoluted, and in my opinion, many of its elements are contrived. But stylistically, it’s brilliant. Perfect noir, touched with linguistic flourishes contemporary authors constantly seek to emulate, but never manage. It’s the kind of novel that can be read a thousand times, and its enjoyment never fades. So, for another year or so, The Big Sleep is shelved. But it’s always close to hand.

ISBN: 9780141037592
Format: Paperback (181mm x 111mm x mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Penguin Books Ltd
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2008
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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