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The Big Sleep and Other Novels

4.31  ·  Rating Details ·  2,388 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Raymond Chandler created the fast talking, trouble seeking Californian private eye Philip Marlowe for his first great novel 'The Big Sleep' in 1939.

Marlowe's entanglement with the Sternwood family - and an attendant cast of colourful underworld figures - is the background to a story reflecting all the tarnished glitter of the great American Dream.

The detective's iconic i
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Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 672 pages
Published February 3rd 2000 by Penguin (first published 1993)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan-Maat
"Ever hear of anybody named Paul Marston?'
His head came up slowly. His eyes focused, but with effort. I could see him fighting for control. He won the fight - for the moment. His face became expressionless.
"Never did," he said carefully, speaking very slowly. "Who's he?"


Collection containing The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely and The Long Goodbye.

The joy of this collection is seeing the change in Chandler's style, from needing to have the door thrown open by someone with a gun in their hand to
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Jeremy
Just reread 'The Big Sleep' for Tough Guy Book Club and am further in awe of Chandler, and would maybe add to my previous review that, even though he's known for his snappy dialogue, the way he lays down a scene, I mean, just read the second paragraph of what amounts to scenic description, and he's basically telling you evreything you need to know about Marlowe and the plot to come...

Spade would've put her away. Marlowe doesn't.

The breezy urban dystopia and edgy venacular of Marlowe's world is f
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Kahn
Apr 09, 2015 Kahn rated it really liked it
I've been a fan of Philip Marlow for years, but this has been more down to films and the ever-expanding world of the gumshoe parody character that seems to have pervaded every area of TV, film and The Simpsons.
And yet i have never actually read any of Chandler's books.
Weirdly I was led here by The Black-Eyed Blonde, written by Benjamin Black at the behest of the Chandler estate, after listening to Black talk about Chandler's life and work on a Guardian Books podcast.
While looking forward to The
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Liam Guilar
Jan 18, 2013 Liam Guilar rated it it was amazing
One of the great prose stylists in English, or one of the most distinct, and still, after all the imitators, the first and the best laconic private detective. The three novels here move from 'The Big Sleep" with its twisted sisters, via "Farewell my Lovely" with that famous line; " A blonde to make a Bishop kick a hole in a stained- glass window" and the unforgettable Moose Malloy: "He was a big man, but not more than six feet five inches tall and not wider than a beer truck" who almost steals ...more
Robert
Aug 22, 2008 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-detective
Varied in quality, with a steady improvement from earliest to latest of the three novels presented in this volume. Reading several Chandler novels in a shortish space of time reveals the technique he uses to disguise what is going on in his plots, weakening the reader's experience.

Marlowe is revealed as a more interesting character as Chandler's skill as a writer improves, but the inevitable comparison between Chandler and Hammett favours the latter simply because Hammett created a wider range o
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Frances
Jul 10, 2016 Frances added it
Shelves: 2016
Aner ikke hvad der skete i denne her bog. Hørte den som lydbog. Det skal man ikke gøre. Kunne godt forestille mig den var god.
Lindz
The signs of a brilliant writer is that bad habits that would drive you mental in other books are happy little quirks in theirs.

If you had to draw a diagram of a Philip Marlowe novel, A would go straight to H - then through to K then back to C, then possibly suddenly showing up at XYZ. I have always love the urban myth of William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett trying to write the screen play for the 1946 Big Sleep, and could not figure out who killed a certain character, and there is a reason for
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Fiona
Apr 26, 2014 Fiona rated it it was amazing
All three of these novels - "The Big Sleep," "Farewell, My Lovely" and "The Long Goodbye" - are fantastic.

Each novel follows private detective Philip Marlowe as he investigates some complex situation involving colorful characters in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s.

Marlowe is a perfect crime novel hero. He's handsome, tough, snarky, brilliant and deeply dedicated to his job (which he doesn't do for the money, because there's not much money in it). Men want to be him and (literally) every woma
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Abhishek
Dec 26, 2015 Abhishek rated it it was amazing
It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.

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. I put them on and went out of the room.

The tragedy of life, Howard, is not that the beautiful die young, but that they grow old and mean. It will not happen to me.


This is but a selection of the delectable lines found throughout Chandler’s three novels. Some make you chuckl
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James
Oct 28, 2012 James rated it really liked it
I’ve long been a fan of film noir, and Chandler’s screenplays – particularly 'Double Indemnity' and 'Strangers on a Train' – are some of my favorites, but until now I had never read any of the novels that made him famous. I decided to begin with 'The Big Sleep', the first of Chandler’s seven novels featuring private investigator Philip Marlowe.

If you’ve seen the bowdlerised (but still brilliant) 1946 film adaptation of 'The Big Sleep' (starring Humphrey Bogart as Marlowe), you may be surprised
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Phillip Berrie
Aug 05, 2012 Phillip Berrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: detective
This book is an electronic collection of three books which I decided to read as research for my own writing (see my book The Changeling Detective).

Reading three books written in the same style in a row got a bit tiring by about the middle of the third book, but I kept reading and I'm glad I did because there's a lot to like here.

I especially liked the turns of phrase used in the descriptions, which despite these books being written over fifty years ago are still evocative, well at least they a
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Morphing_kashi
Jan 26, 2016 Morphing_kashi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery, crime, noir
My first contact with Chandler was through a BBC radio 4 series with Toby Stephens as Philip Marlowe. The atmosphere, the plot twists, the gritty reality and the wit captured me so much that I wanted to read the source of it.
It was only after I read this book that I realised the magnificence of Chandler's prose. The words glide effortlessly on paper like dancers on ice, each carefully crafted sentence a thin brushstroke in a Pre-Raphaelite painting. It is only after the novel is over, when ever
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Saha
There is so much to be savoured in this book. The dialogues, descriptions and atmosphere are entrancing, the unexpected imagery creates simile and metaphors well-dressed in imaginary methods, and the half-romantic, half-cynical depictions of people and places are intriguingly attractive. The rude, witty and weathered chivalry of his lead character with the poignant sense of humour, provide a double vision on the classic, through an ever-accurate prism of the modern. Chandler has a way of making ...more
Mathew Walls
Apr 19, 2015 Mathew Walls rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are both great, but Farewell, My Lovely is the best by far. I haven't yet read The Simple Art of Murder, Playback, Poodle Springs or The Pencil, but of the ones I have read it's by far the best, and would make this book worthwhile on its own; The other two are just icing on the cake, really.
Robert
Jun 18, 2011 Robert rated it it was amazing
Raymond Chandler is one of my favourite authors and this book collects what I consider to be his three best novels into one volume; so if you’ve never read any of his books, this is a good place to start.

‘The Big Sleep’ sees private detective Philip Marlowe investigating a case of blackmail; ‘Farewell, My Lovely’ has him on the trail of a missing nightclub singer; and, in ‘The Long Good-Bye’, Marlowe strikes up a friendship with an alcoholic that lands him in trouble.

Chandler has a very distinct
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Dennis Dennis
Nov 16, 2014 Dennis Dennis rated it it was amazing
Three of the greatest novels ever written. The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, and The Long Goodbye are Chandler at the height of his powers. I reread this book about once a year, and it's one of the few that I still love as much now as when I first did, some twenty years ago. Sure, you can spot a few flaws: Chandler's attitudes towards women and gays may grate for the modern reader, but in the most part it feels utterly contemporary in style if not setting. Philip Marlowe is also one of the ...more
Jeremy
Jan 24, 2013 Jeremy rated it really liked it
Chandler writes with some brilliant and unique prose that make the many colourful underworld characters - along with the corruption-heavy Los Angeles, a character in itself - distinct and memorable throughout these three novels.

Plot-wise, it's easy for the story to get bogged down in seemingly insignificant details, particularly in The Big Sleep. But a definite improvement in Chandler's style and technique can be seen as the books chronologically progress, with The Long Goodbye being his tour de
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Mel
Nov 27, 2012 Mel rated it really liked it
I read the short story that this novel was based on a few months ago, I remembered the porn library and the high naked girl. But there was enough different in the longer version that made it really enjoyable even though I was familiar with the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this and the ending was beautiful. I really enjoyed the style. The first person narration was just such a great insight into the character and there were some really amusing parts. I must admit there were almost too many bad ...more
James Towers
Sep 23, 2016 James Towers rated it really liked it
This collection of all three Philip Marlowe novels seems to tire some out, and fascinate others. For my part, I quietly enjoyed The Big Sleep, struggled with Farewell, My Lovely, and loved The Long Goodbye. Finishing the first novel with modest respect for Chandler's dialogue skills and surprisingly inventive, blunt style of imagery, I grew to outright admire his talent, and will miss his whisky drinking, womanising, sullen and stubborn PI. Probably in part because it took me six weeks on and ...more
Bernie
Dec 26, 2014 Bernie rated it it was amazing
The seemingly endless epilogues in fact waste not a word. Indeed every word in each story is valuable, or at least worth treasuring. One example out of hundreds:

"She hung up and I set out the chessboard. I filled a pipe, paraded the chessmen and inspected them for French shaves and loose buttons, and played a championship tournament game between Gortchakoff and Meninkin, seventy-two moves to a draw, a prize specimen of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, a battle without armor,
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Pamela Lamb
Jan 19, 2014 Pamela Lamb rated it really liked it
I picked up these books because I heard a review on the radio and I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed them. There was some very clever writing here and the stories of the dark underbelly of California's super rich were intriguing. The women were appalling - the only positive female character in the three books I read was Anne Riordan in Farewell my Lovely, and I was never sure what she was doing there.
Ethan
Feb 16, 2012 Ethan rated it really liked it
Chandler is a great writer. The prose is straightforward, the figurative language is often brilliant, and the pace clips along without much canoodling. The dialogue is excellent, and Marlowe is a great character.

That said, the writing can be uneven at times, and the mystery aspects are fairly slim--they're more of a backdrop for Chandler's writing and observations.

I'm keen to read more of his stuff.
Nick
Apr 13, 2007 Nick rated it liked it
Recommends it for: women who are trouble
Shelves: fiction
I guess this book was super provocative when it was published. Even though it's not so much now, the narrator's voice is snappy and direct, and the action moves right along. It's got satisfying revelations, dirty back room deals, and dangerous undertow. I liked it. I read most of it in my car on a rain-slicked night, under an old streetlight. On a stakeout. Perfect.
Kars
Jan 04, 2015 Kars rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Having read this I feel like someone has handed me the key to understanding a whole swath of Americana. These stories are fun to read, Chandler keeps the pace high and Marlowe is a unique character, iconic even.
Linda Robinson
Jul 13, 2010 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So maybe hardboiled detective stories from the 30s don't age so well (the PC police would have a good time shining a bright light on these stories in the homicide detective's messy office) - but it's still darn good writing. Off to find me some Dashiell Hammett.
Alasdair
Jan 28, 2010 Alasdair rated it liked it
This was a superb set of detective novels - dense with atmosphere and character, unfathomable mystery and genuinely literate. Marlowe is the archetypal flawed yet perfect detective for his times and his city. Brilliant.
Erin
Oct 05, 2013 Erin rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Marlowe is equally deserving of a place among the classic detectives as Holmes or Poirot. This is a hard-boiled detective at his finest: he manages to be ruthless enough to get the job done, yet still retains a core of respectability even when pushed to his limits.
Clouds
Jul 14, 2014 Clouds rated it it was amazing
Shelves: guilty
I'm reviewing the three books individually:

The Big Sleep - 5 stars
Farewell, My Lovely - 4 stars
The Long Goodbye - 5 stars

Rounded up to 5 stars for the omnibus.
Brett Adams
Dec 18, 2012 Brett Adams rated it really liked it
I could never get bored of Chandler's PI, Phillip Marlowe, and his prose throws up a turn of phrase that makes you smile or laugh or wish you could have visited California in the 40s. ... visited, mind you.
Trish
I really enjoyed all the Philip Marlowe stories when I read them the first time. Did recently (well, something like March 2007) reread The Big Sleep and it wasn't quite how I remembered it, but I'd still rate Chandler as one of the great detective novelists.
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Raymond Thornton Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter.

In 1932, at age forty-four, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In
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“I walked along to the double doors and stood in front of them. They were motionless now. It wasn’t any of my business. So I pushed them open and looked in.” 0 likes
“The big man leaned down from his hips and bent his knees a little and breathed in my face.
‘What for did you call me Hemingway, pally?’
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