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The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe #1)

4.04  ·  Rating Details ·  82,027 Ratings  ·  3,429 Reviews
When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in.
Paperback, 231 pages
Published July 12th 1988 by Vintage Crime (first published 1939)
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Michael Grogan In answer to Salley, I believe Philip Marlowe's story chronology goes... 1. The Big Sleep (1939) 2. Farewell, My Lovely (1940) 3. The High Window…moreIn answer to Salley, I believe Philip Marlowe's story chronology goes... 1. The Big Sleep (1939) 2. Farewell, My Lovely (1940) 3. The High Window (1942) 4. The Lady in the Lake (1943) 5. The Little Sister (1949) 6. The Simple Art of Murder (1950) (short story collection) 7. The Long Goodbye (1953) 8. Playback (1958) 9. Poodle Springs (1988)* *Started 1958 by Chandler & completed by Robert B. Parker. (less)
Raconteur I think this is hard to say.
If you need a recommendation, maybe 13 and up.
Any TV show like "Grimm" or "Once upon a time" has more dark content than…more
I think this is hard to say.
If you need a recommendation, maybe 13 and up.
Any TV show like "Grimm" or "Once upon a time" has more dark content than this book.
Their are two scenes , where Marlowe shoots Canino and makes out with Carmen in the car that I would probably consider "edgy" but overall this is detective noir at its best and I would let my kids read the book (10 and up) any time they wanted.(less)
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Best Crime & Mystery Books
14th out of 5,429 books — 12,227 voters
The Big Sleep by Raymond ChandlerThe Maltese Falcon by Dashiell HammettThe Long Goodbye by Raymond ChandlerFarewell, My Lovely by Raymond ChandlerThe Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain
Best Hardboiled PI & Noir
1st out of 538 books — 662 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Bill  Kerwin
Oct 15, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it it was amazing

It is always a pleasure to revisit a good book and find it even better than you remember. But it is humbling to discover that what you once thought was its most obvious defect is instead one of its great strengths. That was my recent experience with Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.

I had read it twice before—once twenty years, once forty years ago—and have admired it ever since for its striking metaphors, vivid scenes, and tough dialogue. Above all, I love it for its hero, Philip Marlowe, the cl
Dan Schwent
The 2011-2012 re-read...
A paralyzed millionaire, General Sternwood, hires Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe to have a talk with a blackmailer with his hooks in his daughter. But what does his daughter's missing husband, Rusty Regan, have to do with it? Marlowe's case will get him entangled in a web of pornography and gambling from which he may never escape...

For the last few years, me and noir detective fiction have gone together as well as strippers and c-section scars. When the Pulp Ficti
There’s a story regarding the movie version of The Big Sleep that I love, and if it isn’t true, it should be. Supposedly, while working on adapting the book the screenwriters (William Faulkner & Leigh Brackett) couldn’t figure out who killed one of the characters. So they called Raymond Chandler, and after thinking about it for a while, Chandler admitted that he’d completely forgotten to identify the killer of this person in the book and had no idea who did it. Since no one complained about ...more
Aug 22, 2008 Kirk rated it it was amazing
She was the first thing I saw when I walked into the bookstore. Such a looker I damn near tripped over a stack of calf-high hardbacks set next to a stand of morning papers.
"I'm sorry," she said. "We're not quite open yet."
"That's okay," I told her. "Neither are my eyes."
I could tell right away I wasn't going to win any hosannas by being a smart-aleck.
"I need a book," I continued by way of apology. "Something fun but dark. I'm looking at five hundred miles today, but I'm not in the mood for
Review from Badelynge
The Big Sleep is Raymond Chandler's debut novel published in 1939 and it's a corker featuring Chandler's now iconic hard boiled private detective Philip Marlowe. It's filled with memorable characters; tough guys, wise guys, grifters and chancers all playing their roles in the tangled web of a plot. Although complex I really like how much of the detail in the book actually turns out to be connected with everything else. There is no hiding the answers behind piles of irrelevan
James Thane
Nov 29, 2012 James Thane rated it it was amazing
What can one possibly say about this book that has not already been said? When a dying millionaire needs help, Philip Marlowe answers the call and changes forever the course of crime fiction.

This is the first of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novels, featuring a complex plot with twists and turns so sharp that even the author ultimately couldn't figure them out, but so beautifully written that nobody cares. And at the heart of it all is the man who will become the prototypical P.I. with a co
Dec 04, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
This isn’t really a review so much as a quick word of appreciation for a book I read decades ago. I suspect before Chandler and his ilk came along, crime fiction was much softer boiled. It also seems to have been a precursor for some excellent contemporary crime drama. Might The Sopranos, The Wire, and countless others owe a debt of gratitude to books like this for their intricate plotting, their colorful language, their stylized writing, and that definitive noir feel?

Over time I seem to have fu
May 15, 2011 Stephen rated it really liked it

4.0 stars. This was the first noir crime fiction book that I ever read and I don't think I could have found a much better place to start. I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the genre, but decided to test the waters with this classic that introduced the world to the iconic private detective Philip Marlowe. I am very glad I did.

This is a fun, fast read and I was immediately sucked in by the superb dialogue, which was both politically incorrect and just slid off the page and into your head.

Okay, so it wasn't bad. There's lots of fistfights and shooting and dames, and our detective hero is appropriately jaded and tight-lipped. The bad guys are crazy, the women are freaks in both the streets and the sheets, and there's a subplot involving a pornography racket. Everyone talks in 30's-tastic slang and usually the reader has no idea what everyone keeps yelling about. It's a violent, fast-paced, garter-snapping (the Depression equivalent of bodice-ripping, I imagine) detective thriller, ...more
I'm usually a plot-challenged person. It takes me awhile to be able to figure out what's going on when a movie or book plot gets too complicated, with the double-crosses and the lies and the reversals...the chess game is usually too much for me.

I don't usually hold that against the story I'm being told, I just figure it wasn't my cup of tea and let it go.

This one, though, I loved every minute of and will absolutely have to reread someday. Just to re-savor all the little crackling asides, poetic
Jun 15, 2016 William1 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
It struck me as horribly sad how homophobic the book is. "Faggot" is used liberally throughout. This runs counter to Philip Marlowe's otherwise bracing truthfulness. The two gay characters here are criminals: one is a pornographer, the other a murderer. Though they're not the sole wrongdoers, the relationship they share is viewed with untempered abhorrence. This will be upsetting to some readers, as it was to me, so be advised.

I generally abhor the hardboiled clichés and corny deadpan humor of
A masterpiece of flowing words.

Marlowe investigates two daughters on the road to Perdition which leads to darker things than expected.

There's a lot to say but many others have already said it. They're right. It's brilliant. I prefer the novel but I listened to the audio and Elliot Gould was truly awesome with his voices. He caught the spirit of the book.

Dec 30, 2011 Lawyer rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of hard boiled crime and noir
Recommended to Lawyer by: Goodreads Group Pulp Fiction
The Big Sleep,The Debut of Philip Marlowe

Welcome to sunny L.A. It's sunny unless you're caught without an umbrella or you're dead.

It's 1939. A lot of people don't know it, but in a couple of years, a lot of girls and boys are going to take the big sleep, courtesy of, if you want to call them men, Hitler, Hirohito, and Mussolini. Now there's an axis of evil. It's something called World War II. Forget about that "War to end all wars" stuff.

Me, I wasn't born yet. After I was more than a glint in Mo
May 06, 2012 Brandon rated it it was amazing
General Sternwood, a millionaire in 1930s Los Angeles, hires Phillip Marlowe to investigate a man who claims to have controversial photos of his socialite daughter. However, as Marlowe's investigation progresses, he finds himself in for a little more than he bargained for (excuse the cliche).

In the last few years, I have developed quite an appetite for detective fiction. However, in the past few months, I've wanted to dig deep into the hard-boiled and noir sub-genre. What better place to start t
After the first Chandler I read, I wanted to read everything he had ever written. After the second, I decided to stick with the three I had added. After the third, I'm glad I don't have any left because I am done done done done done done done. Call it plot, call it inevitable, call it everything from the closing of a door to natural selection, but don't call it a mistake. Unlike the twenty-year-old sack of skin and aborted character definition whom I most closely resemble in age and gender out o ...more
Feb 29, 2016 Evgeny rated it it was amazing
Review updated on February 26, 2016

A group read with the following people:
Erin, Dan 2.0, Steve, Delee. Please let me know if I missed somebody.

A crippled millionaire with rapidly failing health hires Philip Marlowe to investigate seemingly simple blackmail case involving one of his daughters. The cynical PI charges only $25 a day plus expenses. For this money he got shot at several times, was knocked out by a blow in his head, met quite a few dead people and helped some of them meet their early
Jason Koivu
Jul 22, 2013 Jason Koivu rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
What style! Holy Moses! Chandler writes with a purpose: to put you right in the shit. In The Big Sleep he writes with the economy of biting words that surrounds Philip Marlowe, a detective whose seen the hardbitten world, with the street's lexicon.

Hardboiled? Certainly. But I've read some hardboiled stuff that was boiled down to a tasteless mass. This stuff's full of flavor, bitter and sometimes bittersweet.

You've seen the movie, now read the book. They're similar in style, but the story diffe
Jan 26, 2013 Patrick rated it really liked it
Since I've been reading a lot of detective-type urban fantasy lately, I decided to pick up one of the original texts of the genre, just to see what it was like.

Chandler wrote this back in 1939, and the book itself holds up remarkably well even though it's been 70 years.

It's very readable. Some of the slang is a little opaque, sure, but not nearly as much as you'd think.

And some of the intuitive leaps Philip Marlow takes are a little difficult to grasp. But I'm not sure if that's because

1) th
Jul 18, 2013 Forrest rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will someone please purge Peter Falk's voice from my head? I swear the man learned how to speak by having this book read to him as a child.

Again, shame on me for not having read yet another American classic. I've always been a fan of noir in movies or on television, but had not read much at all, until recently. So I set out to make up for my un-American pinko commie ways and read a red-blooded American mystery. Now I honestly can't tell whether Raymond Chandler loved or hated America.

I can tell
May 07, 2013 Emma rated it liked it
I’ve often thought that 1930s America - the setting of The Big Sleep - is a place I’d like to be. Swing bands, dance halls, jitter bugs, the developing tenor saxophone and the gutsy blues rifts that came from the burgeoning soloists ....a time when Jazz was important and influential on society. Amazing. I’ve had tons of daydreams about this era, of jamming with Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young or Ben Webster, feathers in hair, drinking illegal beverage in a Blind Pig.
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.”

It's been ages since I've read an older detective driven novel, but this one was a nice way to break the ice back into the genre. It was highly rated, but I'd never heard of it before it became a group read. Apparently there's a movie too; what rock have I been under?

Philip Marlowe is an "honest" guy - blunt and brash in the face of authority. Like many detectives, he goes by his own moral code and street system. He doesn't stick fully t
Do you know that early episode of Scrubs (yes, I really am going to begin this review with a Scrubs reference) where J.D. is trying to stop his relationship with Elliot falling into the 'friend zone'? The idea is that after that first flirty moment, you've got 48 hours to seal it with a kiss, or you're stuck forever in the 'friend zone'.

I got given The Big Sleep in the omnibus collection of Marlowe books 1,2 and 6 on a long term loan/gift, from my friend Justin (the same awesome Zimbabwean
Feb 27, 2014 Shaun rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2014
There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.

This is the opening to Chandler's short story "Red Wind" and the excerpt that brought
Jul 29, 2016 Alejandro rated it it was amazing
Shelves: detective, romance, novel, noir
A killing reading!


A nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy.

That was the line that hook me when I watched the classic film adaptation, the one produced in 1946, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

While I loved the whole movie, that scene between Marlowe (Bogart) and the character of General Sternwood (Charles Waldron) at the glasshouse (in the beginning of the story) was what hooked me. It’s a wonderful dialogue, full of vices, smoking and d
Ɗắɳ  2.☠
Mar 07, 2016 Ɗắɳ 2.☠ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Noir fans

“I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it.”

Yeah, so? What do want a medal or something? Sorry to break it to you, Phil, but for most of us simple folks that’s called the status quo. Well, maybe not the shaved part, but damn, it’s not yet noon and you’re bragging about being sober? At least I now know who to blame for all those hard drinking, wise cracking PIs which followed. It’s no wonder future authors would attempt to emulate this guy. He’s the very definition of
OMG, how have I missed out on Raymond Chandler’s work for so long? From the very first sentence, I was hooked. The plot is pretty good, but where The Big Sleep excels is in characters and in atmosphere.

Philip Marlowe is the kind of guy you want to have on your side if there’s something not-quite-above-board happening in your life. Not a guy you would want to date, but definitely a guy who you hope you can afford when you need his skills.

I adored the dialog—Chandler had a real talent in that dep
Aug 28, 2016 Mona rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 27, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The heat in this disreputable part of the old town was oppressive and anything but sultry. All I wanted to do was shed the sweat-clinging skin of the day and stand under a freezing shower for about a week. If I followed that up with a few slugs of bourbon with some ice cold cubes swimming in them, well, that was nobody's business but mine.

She wouldn't have it, though. She stared at me from where I'd discarded her on the beat up couch with a burning reprimand sizzling in her non-existent eyes. Sh
Raymond Chandler virtually invented the private eye novel as we think of it today, marrying American noir with the hard-boiled detective. This is one of those few books that can truly be said that changed the American literary landscape.

A dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to take care of a situation involving the younger of two daughters. It seems that she has either been losing too much in an illegal casino and is the victim of blackmail. Marlowe's job is to make the trouble go away. But t
Aug 29, 2016 Emma rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, noir
'What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that...You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now.'

So concludes Philip Marlowe at the end of this case. I'm really glad I didn't know the story beforehand, having never watched the movie. I didn't see whodunnit u
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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
More about Raymond Chandler...

Other Books in the Series

Philip Marlowe (8 books)
  • Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe, #2)
  • The High Window (Philip Marlowe, #3)
  • The Lady in the Lake (Philip Marlowe, #4)
  • The Little Sister (Philip Marlowe, #5)
  • The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe, #6)
  • Playback (Philip Marlowe, #7)
  • Poodle Springs (Philip Marlowe, #8)

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“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.” 234 likes
“It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in.” 161 likes
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