Book review: The Big Sleep

This is actually P’s book. He picked it up for our holiday to Curacao (did I mention we went to Curacao in August? I did? I’m not really bored of it yet). However, I don’t think there’s a book he owns that he wouldn’t lend me and I don’t think I own a book I wouldn’t lend him. Actually, I’m still trying to bully him into reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and I think it’s finally starting to work. Anyway, back to Raymond Chandler.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

For those not familiar, this is a hard-boiled private detective story. In fact, it might well be the definitive hard-boiled novel. I’ve never read anything like it before but, thanks to the odd movie and thousands of parodies of the style, it was almost exactly what I’d expect. Also thanks to the parodies, I found it very funny. I’m pretty sure it’s not intentionally funny, so maybe that’s not really a good thing, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the read so who cares?

The story follows private detective Philip Marlowe who is hired by the wealthy and elderly General Sternwood to discretely deal with a blackmailing problem. Naturally enough it turns out that there’s more here than initially meets the eye and this sets Marlowe off on an adventure.

It’s easy to see how the book is so tempting for filmmakers and comedians. I was lucky enough to have not seen either of the two film adaptations or to have had the ending spoiled for me, so the twists came as real surprises (although I guessed at a few points). I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good detective story.

Incidentally, I’ve just signed up (a bit late) to take part in Outlandish Lit’s Weirdathon. You can find out about this here. For me, this definitely counts as a weird book, since I’ve never read a hard-boiled detective story before and it’s very strongly stylised. However, I recognise that it’s quite a mainstream novel in many ways. Fortunately the rules of the Weirdathon don’t prevent me from counting it as one of my books.

8 thoughts on “Book review: The Big Sleep

    1. I think there’s quite a lot. As far as I can tell Chandler is the definitive hardboiled author, so whenever anyone, even The Simpsons, are parodying the style, this is really where it comes from. I’ve not read his short stories, though, I’ll have to look them up.


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