, , , , , , , ,

This is the first Raymond Chandler book I have read, and ‘The Big Sleep’ is the first in Chandlers’ series of crime noir novels that features the ever elusive and aloof Philip Marlowe; the prototype for all future Hollywood PI’s to grace the screen thereafter. For one, Marlowe comes from a world where girls are called ‘gals’, ‘dames’ and ‘broads’ and the men are called, ‘guys’ and ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’. By the look of things it also seems like Frank Miller must have lifted a good deal of his prose for Sin City straight out of a Marlowe mystery.

The Big Sleep (Penguin Fiction)
So, what can you expect from Chandler that say, you couldn’t get from Christie’s Poirot? Well, for one, a deceptively dense read that requires your attention. This is no walk in the park, but that all comes easy when you have Chandler guiding you through the seedy back streets of LA, picking through the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

My advice to a first-timer would be: don’t be fooled by Chandler’s caricature-like fame like I was. This book is the first of the Philip Marlowe Mysteries, and in all honesty, there isn’t a single ounce of fat in the storyline. From character to setting, Chandler makes sure he eliminates all the unnecessary clutter, and does his utmost to help the reader see and think only like Marlowe can. When it comes to the characters, the Sternwoods are an interesting family, with Carmen being the scariest, most unhinged young lady I have ever read. She reminds me of a twisted marionette who keeps on moving despite having had her strings cut by a cruel puppeteer. Another favourite creation would have to be Canino and Eddie Mars; characters we have all seen emulated in various Hollywood films with the sole difference here being that they retain an air of originality, and somehow avoid the risk of becoming a pastiche of characters that have come before them. My favourite bit would have to be the ending though. The way everything came together was very satisfying,and I can’t say that for many books.

If you have read detective fiction before, I recommend ‘The Big Sleep’ because then you’d realise that this is the DADDY of them all. I highly recommended this book to those who want a break from what they are used to. It does wonders for those wishing to blow away the cobwebs and refresh the mental palate.

I give this 3/5 Stars.