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Only to Sleep: A Philip Marlowe Novel

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  740 ratings  ·  158 reviews
The new Philip Marlowe novel, from Lawrence Osborne, a master of the psychological thriller

In this brilliant new novel, commissioned by the Raymond Chandler estate, the acclaimed author Lawrence Osborne gives us a piercing psychological study of one of literature's most beloved and enduring detectives, told with a contemporary twist. It is an unforgettable addition to the
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published July 24th 2018 by Hogarth Press
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3.60  · 
Rating details
 ·  740 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
With what is now an exceedingly common practice in the publishing world, Lawrence Osborne revives the hard boiled noir series featuring the unforgettable Philip Marlowe, albeit his own version of Marlowe. Set in the coastal areas of California and Mexico, locations that serve well for the underhand dealings, shady characters, con merchants, and as Marlowe terms it, the 'able grables', all requisite requirements for a Philip Marlowe outing. Osborne does a particularly good job in making these pla ...more
2017 was the year I discovered Lawrence Osborne and my reading choices were summarily upended. By the end of the year, I had read 4 of his books – 2 fiction and 2 non-fiction – and, so far, in 2018, I’ve read 2 more. I’m purposefully leaving several back-catalog options available lest I sink helplessly into a deep funk when there are no more Osborne works left unread. (The foregoing disclosure is far more significant for purposes of assessing my objectivity (none) than knowing that I received a ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Only to Sleep: A Philip Marlowe Novel” written by Lawrence Osborne, is to the best of my knowledge, the third authorized Philip Marlowe to be written since the death of Raymond Chandler on 26 March 1959 in La Jolia Ca. with the blessing of the Chandler estate. And I say that it is lucky number three.

Of the two previous attempts, which were written by two earlier mystery authors, it was asked when John Banville, was writing under his mystery novel pseudonym Benjamin Black, would he be able to pu
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Chandler’s Marlowe is a towering figure in the lore of hardboiled gumshoes. He is so important to the literary genre that he stands nearly seventy feet tall and when he speaks the earth quivers. For such a towering figure, Chandler only bequeathed us seven full novels and a fistful of short stories. More recently, a host of writers have attempted to add to the Philip Marlowe lore, paying homage to Chandler’s work.

Osborne offers us, not another story set in the mean streets of Marlowe’s 1940’s L
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: publisher, reviewed
"Carnivals were where old man could shine a little behind their masks and pretend that their vital spirits still worked." In 1989, Philip Marlowe is now 72, retired, living in Baja and contemplating the ways things have changed, not for the better, from the 1950s. He has a bad leg and is not particularly robust, but when he is approached by a couple of insurance investigators he agrees to take on one last case.
Donald Zinn drowned in Mexico, making his much younger widow, Dolores Araya, very wea
Louise Wilson
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The year is 1989., the Reagan presidency had just come to an end, and Detective Philip Marlowe is on the case again.

Philip Marlowe has retired and is living in Baja. He thinks about the way things have changed (not for the better). He has a bad leg but when he is approached from a couple of insurance investigators, he decides to take on one last case.

Donald Zinn had drowned in Mexico, leaving his widow Dolores Araya a wealthy woman. Thinking that the details of Donald Zinn's deathhad been fals
Sep 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Only To Sleep is a novel featuring private investigator Philip Marlow by Lawrence Obsorne.

I really had a difficult time rating this book because on one hand, if it had resonated with this reader more, the rating would have been higher, but for some reason, this novel just did not do that.

Obsorne tells a tale where Marlow is on his elderly last legs working one more case and seeking to determine if a man has faked his death or not in order to collect on a large insurance settlement.

The novel i
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
At 72 years of age, Philip Marlowe has retired. But when he’s offered a case by an insurance company, he decides to have one last adventure. They want Marlowe to investigate the death of Donald Zinn. They’ve paid Zinn’s widow a very large sum of money but something doesn’t seem right and they think Marlowe is the man to get to the bottom of it.

Who doesn’t know and love Philip Marlowe? What a perfect delight to have an author such as Lawrence Osborne bring him to life once again. The Robert Chan
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lawrence Osborne is the third author who got asked by the Chandler estate to add to the the Philip Marlowe book, earlier entries being two books by Robert B Parker and John Banville. Which is certainly not a list of poor writers.

Osborne chose to place the Philip Marlowe in the year 1988 with the lovely idea of having Marlowe being 72 years old, which makes a tough detective who can manage with his fists what his wits can not conquer.
This is an older retired Marlowe who lives in Baja Mexico and
Susan Hampson
Just the name Philip Marlowe straight away conjured images of Humphrey Bogart with a beautiful woman by his side for me, of course I had to age him in my mind as in this story he was in his 70's and eager to take on just one more case. So with Marlowe magic written all over the blurb and the story reading in my mind in the voice of Bogart, I was in for a one sitting session with a clear don't disturb warning written on my expression.
Marlowe was invited by two men representing an insurance compan
switterbug (Betsey)
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have not read a Chandler novel of detective Philip Marlowe and his hardboiled noir escapades of hustlers, femme fatales, the darker side of LA, and booze, lots of booze. I did see The Big Sleep years ago, and am familiar with some of Marlowe’s famous one-liners and cases through literary allusions and literature culture in general. But, being a fan of Lawrence Osborne, I decided to read this, knowing I wouldn’t have too many pre-conceived notions (if any) on how Marlowe’s character and actions ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the limitations of the Goodreads star system is that it doesn't allow for nuance. This is an excellent novel that I admire immensely (five stars) yet it's one that I didn't personally much enjoy (two or three stars). Ideally I'd simply not give it a star rating at all, but that doesn't appear to be an option.

It's the late 1980s and Philip Marlowe is 72 years old. An insurance company calls him out of retirement to investigate the recent drowning death in Mexico of real estate magnate Dona
Benjamin Thomas
It is always a heady prospect for an author to step into the shoes of another acclaimed author, especially one such as the beloved Raymond Chandler. And to then write a story featuring none other than Phillip Marlowe, perhaps the greatest of hardboiled gumshoes. That, my friends, is tempting the fates. But Lawrence Osborne is certainly no fly-by-night author and in this novel, I think he does the character, (and by extension, Chandler himself), justice.

This novel is not about the Philip Marlow o
Ronald Koltnow
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This Raymond Chandler pastiche features the aging Philip Marlowe, in his 70s, on his last, we assume, investigation. It is certainly more Lawrence Osborne than Raymond Chandler; it reads in part like a travelogue, with attention to the details of place and custom. The good news is, as Osborne is one of our greatest living writers, this is a spellbinding tale of detours on the last highway. I chose to not think of the central character as Marlowe but as a man sort of my age who fears that the joy ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Thanks to First to Read for the advance copy.

Philip Marlowe in his dotage is not a pretty picture. Then again, he's still snooping about in a world that isn't so pretty itself. That he maintains any sly wit is impressive. However, without his penchant for, and selfless skill at, falling for the femme fatale, there would be no story. He maintains that dream-like progression through the events of the case, a clue here and there pushing the narrative forward despite Marlowe's every effort to hold s
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
For some reason I just couldn’t get into this novel. I love Phillip Marlow and was looking forward to reading this novel, but when you feel like you are reading a book just to finish it, you shouldn’t punish yourself by making yourself stick with it.
It was well written, I don’t know if it was setting or what that made this a difficult read for me.
Alan Taylor
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“I just wanted one last outing. Every man does. One last play at the tables - it’s a common wish.”

I approached this, Lawrence Osborne’s, Chandler Estate-authorised, Philip Marlowe novel, with some trepidation and a little scepticism. Raymond Chandler is my favourite writer and ‘The Little Sister’ the first ‘crime’ novel I remember reading. But Osborne’s decision to write about a 72-year old Marlowe was intriguing and, to some extent, prevents the novel from becoming pastiche, keeps it from being
Ron S
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting and as well written as it is, one has to ask why? Osborne is a fine writer with an imagination capable of characters all his own. Iconic characters from the literary past shouldn't be subjected to resurrection for filthy lucre.
Maine Colonial
Thanks to the publisher, Hogarth, for providing a free ARC.

If you’re familiar with Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series, you know the laconic, melancholic style and the sun-blasted noir-ish atmosphere. Now imagine that Marlowe is retired and living in Mexico, on the Baja coast. He’s getting to be an old man, 72 with some creaky bones and occasional tremors, and he’s frequently sleepless or, when he does sleep, bothered by strange dreams.

Worst of all, Marlowe is a little low on cash and a bit
William Koon
Aug 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Two of my favorite writers have worked with Raymond Chandler’s material, John Banville and William Faulkner. And now the superb Lawrence Osborne throws his hat into the soup, portraying Marlowe as an old, crippled man with memories of better times. In a somewhat convoluted plot that ranges from El Centro to various Mexican locales, Osborne has the old fellow bumbling along, sardonically. I wish the Chandler trust would be happy releasing the old books. We just did not need Only To Sleep.
Sid Nuncius
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I’m afraid I found Only To Sleep pretty dull and rather aptly titled for me. As a lover of Chandler’s originals I approached it with some scepticism, especially after John Banville’s The Black-Eyed Blonde, which I thought was a pretty dreadful pastiche of Chandler’s style. This was stylistically better, but really didn’t add up to much.

It’s a good idea in many ways to set the book in 1988, when Marlowe is 74 years old; his narrative voice is calmer, less snappy and the wisecracks and brilliant s
Elaine Tomasso
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House UK, Vintage Publishing for an advance copy of Only to Sleep, a resurrection of Chandler's Philip Marlowe series.

It's 1988 and a 72 year old Marlowe is not enjoying his retirement in rural Mexico. After 10 years of doing not much he's bored so when insurance company, Pacific Mutual, approaches him to look into a suspicious claim he jumps at the chance. Failed property developer Donald Zinn died in mysterious circumstances in Mexico and his young wi
Bill Kelly
Oct 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
Only resemblance to Chandler/Marlowe is the protagonist's quest to pursue the malefactor to the end and fulfill his own sense of right and wrong. Marlowe is 72 and the first 50 pages or so, Osborne bludgeons the reader with all that is wrong with him, physically and spiritually. A boost for today's agony revelers, but the character more resembles someone who is 90 and that is probably insulting many 90 year old folks. Guess I don't know what a pastiche is. Stylistically resembles a verbose and n ...more
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not familiar with the character Philip Marlowe, so wasn't too sure whether i could read this as a standalone. There is no mistaking that this book was very well written, but i do love a lot of action which there isn't in this book. If you enjoy a historical backdrop with wonderful descriptions set in Mexico and bars, then i do recommend this book.

I do thank the Publishers for my copy. This is my honest review, which has been freely given.
Jan 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommended to Stven by: library
While I was reading it, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The depiction of an elderly Philip Marlowe in the 1980s was persuasive, not as a precise impersonation of the Philip Marlowe we know from Raymond Chandler's writing but as his earthly remains in a more modern... yet in 2018, already bygone world. I moved from chapter to chapter with growing appreciation up until the last couple of dozen pages, when I wanted a persuasive resolution as well and did not get one.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Was this a good book? Yes. Would I recommend it? Yes. Was it a Philip Marlowe novel? In name only and by that I mean the main character is named Philip Marlowe. This was not the Philip Marlowe of Raymond Chandler or even of Robert Parker. None of the dialogue had the Chandler snap. The mean streets of Mexico are not the mean streets of LA. The book is both literate and literary and that last is the problem, it is too literary. Rather than Chandler the book reminded me more of the Quirke novels w ...more
Andrew Nette
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
I wanted to write something more detailed on my site about just how good this book is, but have no time. So, you'll just have to take my word for it, that this is one of the most beautifully written crime novels I have read in a long time. I started off underlining passages I liked but there were too many. As is the case with all the best PI novels it is full of dark themes and existential musings, but they never get in the way of the pace. A stunning evocation of an elderly Philip Marlowe and M ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
A reboot of a long lost, favorable PI, Philip Marlowe comes out of retirement to assist an insurance firm in investigating possible fraud.

Lawrence Osborne does an excellent job capturing the hard, callous, ambivalent Marlowe as if he never went away. Osborne also emulates Chandler's finesse and turns of phrases regarding similes and metaphors.
However, there are a few things that bug me.

1) Marlowe is 72, set in the early 1980s...he's confronted by a few younger people, but Marlowe when making a
David C Ward
The NYTimes liked this for some reason, probably because the Times has a very poor grasp of popular culture. The premise is a late 70 year old Marlowe comes out of retirement in 1988 for one last tilt at the windmill. Not only is this not a passable homage to Raymond Chandler, it’s not even very good as a mystery. The problem is very poor writing - everything is ornate and overdescribed as well as suffused with a sense of world weariness that is leaden. It has nothing like chandler’s brisk irony ...more
Mark Birchall
Sadly this book fell way short of any of Chandler’s Marlowe books. I preferred both Parker’s take on the guy and Benjamin Black’s. This book was dull and read like a Mexican travel guide.The snappy dialogue and witty one liners were completely absent and in their place were numerous descriptions of plants and scenery...zzzzzzzz . Give it a wide berth and either re read the original or the Spenser series by bob Parker.
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Lawrence Osborne is a British novelist currently residing in New York City.

Osborne was educated at Cambridge and Harvard, and has since led a nomadic life, residing for years in France, Italy, Morocco, the United States, Mexico, Thailand and Istanbul.

He is the author of the novel Ania Malina, a book about Paris, Paris Dreambook, the essay collection The Poisoned Embrace, a controversial book about
“There was, I thought, something calling to me from out in the dark.
It came from out in the tempest, even from the lights of the fishing boats a mile out at sea. You can be called to a last effort, a final heroic statement, because I doubt you call yourself to leave comforts and certainties for an open road. But the call is inside your own head. It's a sad summons from the depths of your own wasted past. You could call it the imperative to go out with full-tilt trumpets and gunshots instead of the quietly desperate sound of the hospital ventilator. Victory instead of defeat.”
More quotes…