The Big Sleep is a crime novel from the iconic Raymond Chandler and was first published in 1939. It also introduced LA private detective Philip Marlowe to the literary landscape. A very successful film with Humphrey Bogart was released a few years later. This particular novel is considered the the crème de la crème of hard boiled detective fiction. Now that I read the novel, there is not much I can say to dispute that designation.
Philip Marlowe is a private eye barely scraping by the streets of the City of Angels. He is invited to meet with an elderly millionaire concerning an attempt to blackmail him due to a daughter’s indiscretion. Marlowe learns that the two daughters have some dangerous secrets. He also learns of a husband who has gone missing and a book dealer who is less than scrupulous. There are plenty of deadly dames, gangsters, and murder awaiting Marlowe’s pursuit.
Marlowe probably was a more intriguing character at the time of his inception. Chandler was a pretty straight down the middle kind of writer as far as prose, but he does know how to make compelling characters. I was already pretty familiar with the story have read many authors who sort of used Marlowe as a template. There are a few times that Chandler seems to take his time moving the story along, but the whole thing still works. Marlowe is a complicated protagonist with a strict code of ethics in some ways and still willing to bend a few societal rules. The story also does reflect the messiness of some life situations and not everything is resolved as neatly as some would expect or prefer.
And the improvised 2022 reading journey continues on with Christopher L Bennett’s Star Trek novel entitled Living Memory.