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The Big Sleep

(Philip Marlowe)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  141,104 ratings  ·  6,205 reviews
Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid....He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man.

This is the Code of the Private Eye as defined by Raymond Chandler in his 1944 essay 'The Simple Act of Murder.' Such a man was Philip Marlowe, private eye, an educated, he
Paperback, 231 pages
Published July 12th 1988 by Vintage Crime (first published February 6th 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 (194…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)
Boy Blue Anyone who knows about sex, death and violence. Some get there much earlier than others. None of those three components are heavy in this book but the…moreAnyone who knows about sex, death and violence. Some get there much earlier than others. None of those three components are heavy in this book but they are present.(less)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Aug 19, 2008 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
Jan 26, 2013 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
Bill Kerwin
May 12, 2007 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
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Review updated again on September 17, 2019.

“It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark little clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four mill
Jul 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel, detective, romance
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
Dec 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, mystery
Raymond Chandler first published The Big Sleep in 1939, introducing us to the world of Philip Marlowe. A modern, noir like detective story, The Big Sleep changed the genre from passive interactions to action packed thrills between the private eye and criminals. Set in 1930s Los Angeles, then a sleepy town controlled by the mob as much as the police, The Big Sleep is a non stop action thriller.

General Sherwood has hired private eye detective Philip Marlowe to solve the mystery of the whereabouts
Ahmad Sharabiani
(599From 1001 Books) - The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe #1), Raymond Chandler

Private investigator Philip Marlowe is called to the home of the wealthy and elderly General Sternwood, in the month of October. He wants Marlowe to deal with an attempt by a bookseller named Arthur Geiger to blackmail his wild young daughter, Carmen. She had previously been blackmailed by a man named Joe Brody.

General Sternwood mentions his other, older daughter Vivian is in a loveless marriage with a man named Rusty Reg
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
Reflections on The Big Sleep

- Classic hard-boiled detective fiction at it's finest. Every stereotype, every cliched phrase, it's all there and it is glorious. If you are looking for dames and gumshoes and sawbucks and swapping lead then look no further. Almost every page had a quotable line that had me smirking.

- This book is set in a different time. If you do not remember this, you may be upset or offended by the content. These characters are uncouth and indelicate. Several times during the boo
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“The game I play is not spillikins. There’s always a large element of bluff connected with it…When you hire a boy in my line of work it isn’t like hiring a window-washer and showing him eight windows and saying: ‘Wash those and you’re through.’ You don’t know what I have to go through or over or under to do your job for you. I do it my way. I do my best to protect you and I may break a few rules, but I break them in your favor. The client comes first, unless he’s crooked. Even then all I do is h ...more
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 the ...more
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
James Thane
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Edited March, 2019: I've just finished reading The Annotated Big Sleep, edited by Owen Hill, Pamela Jackson, and Anthony Dean Rizzuto. For whatever reason, this is simply included as another edition of the novel rather than a separate work in its own right, and the only way I was able to find it was to use the ISBN number, which is 978-0-8041-6888-5. It brought up the correct edition, but when I clicked on it, GR took me to my original review of the novel itself.

I really enjoyed the annotated ve
Dave Schaafsma
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that, oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell”--Chandler

Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. He published some short stories, honing his craft, and finally made his debut; The Big Sleep was published in 1939, a
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic noir novel, yet what elevates it above the ordinary, for me, is that it's also a song about Los Angeles, a place I once called home. LA presents many surfaces for many people--to see and be seen, to fantasize and be the objects of fantasy. But Chandler gets at the dark underside of it all in a way that few writers do. He sees the city in its stark white light and also in its shadows, he sees the glory and the rottenness and the flimsiness of the city's facades. It's a love song ...more
Aug 15, 2010 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.
Jason Koivu
Nov 17, 2012 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
Ok. Well, I thought I would like it a bit more, but maybe coming off of Hammett's The Thin Man & The Maltese Falcon wasn't the best thing to do. I prefer Hammett's writing. <--so far
Because I'm guessing that these books get better?
It just seems as though this plot was overly complex for no good reason. And in the end, the story really didn't go anywhere.
At the end, I kind of went...what? that's it?


Again, it's not so much that I think The Big Sleep is bad, as I think I just enjoy the other guy's
Andrew Smith
I’m late to this particular party. Very late. I’ve long enjoyed American crime fiction but my diet has mostly been that of contemporary novels. Writers like Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly, James Lee Burke have kept me entertained for endless hours. But I’ve seldom delved further back in time to the heyday of the hard-boiled mysteries. I did try Hammett once but I confess I didn’t much enjoy the experience. So it was with a slight sense of unease that I set about exploring the world of Philip M ...more
Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn’t a game for knights."
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, 20-ce, us
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
Henry Avila
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Philip Marlowe here at your service, for scratch, I'm going to tell you a little tale of my last caper punks. Listen good, rich, sick, General Sternwood hired me to help him peel an onion, a shakedown the big squeeze, one of his two quite wacky daughters Carmen got into a little pickle. I'll not spill the beans but say it's kind of a blue bedtime story with pictures, the sort polite society keeps on the Q.T. You'll need a big fireman's hose to clean up all the crud, any of you need a little doug ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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This was an interesting experience, and I must admit that I enjoyed the Bogart & Bacall movie much more than the book. (It was fine-tuned by William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett, after all)

The early chapters are a bit stilted and forced, but with an almost too-snappy dialogue identical to the movie.

20% ... After a while, Chandler loosens up a bit, and begins to shine. Great stuff now.

Wow, I am witnessing Chandler find his true voi
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Excellent detective writing by Raymond Chandler from a time long past. 6 of 10 stars
Chandler's 1939 classic crime novel is the first that featured Phillip Marlowe, the famous private detective who would appear in 7 of Chandler's novels. Humphrey Bogart brought him to life on the silver screen in the 1946 production of The Big Sleep. Even though it was written almost 80 years ago, it's not dated, meaning it has an almost modern feel to it. Good writing almost always equals good novel. ...more
Julie Ehlers
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Reading a hard-boiled detective novel long past the point when I'd already learned lots of things about the hard-boiled detective novel was an interesting experience. Marlowe's blunt, quippy language, his day drinking, and his over-the-top descriptions of women delighted me, not just on their own merits but simply because it was fun to read something that was exactly the way I'd always heard it would be. On the other hand, there were some elements of the book that surprised me. How much of the a ...more
“Tall, aren't you?" she said.
"I didn't mean to be."
Her eyes rounded. She was puzzled. She was thinking. I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her.”
― Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep

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
Glenn Russell

How many hardboiled detective novels have been written since 1939, the year Raymond Chandler introduced his perceptive, quick-witted LA tough guy, private eye Philip Marlowe? Round to the nearest 10,000.

That's hardboiled as in a world of crooked cops, organized crime, double-crossing grifters and every other door in a downtown office reeking of swindle, sex angles or shady business deals. In such a world, it's every citizen for themselves and an honest detective can trust absolutely nobody, fre
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊
Aug 01, 2014 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 the rest of us poor working-class schmucks, that’s basically the status quo. Well, maybe not razor smooth, but damn, it’s not yet noon and you’re bragging about being sober?

Sheesh! Well, at least now I know who to blame for all those hard-drinking, wisecracking PIs that followed.

But, it’s really no wonder future authors would att
John Culuris
May 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star
In any poll of the greatest private eye novels ever written, there is a great chance that the top 5 would contain The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and the Chandler trifecta of The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and The Long Goodbye. The fifth? If you stay in the deep past than possibly The Drowning Pool by Ross Macdonald (thereby by keeping the genre’s triumvirate together), or--depending on your level of tolerance--Red Harvest (giving the top 5 to only two writer, albeit geniuses in thei ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Philip Marlowe (10 books)
  • Farewell, My Lovely
  • The High Window
  • The Lady in the Lake
  • The Little Sister
  • The Long Goodbye
  • Playback
  • Trouble Is My Business
  • Poodle Springs
  • Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe Series 4 Books Set (The Big Sleep, The Lady in the Lake, The High Window, The Long Good-Bye, #1, 3, 4, 6))

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