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The Little Sister

(Philip Marlowe #5)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  12,794 ratings  ·  700 reviews
A movie starlet with a gangster boyfriend and a pair of siblings with a shared secret lure Marlowe into the less than glamorous and more than a little dangerous world of Hollywood fame. Chandler's first foray into the industry that dominates the company town that is Los Angeles.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published (first published 1949)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  12,794 ratings  ·  700 reviews


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Henry Avila
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe , they are an iconic pair you cannot separate or wish to, the master writer and the fictional character more real than some bipeds. The flavor of Los Angeles in the 1940's you could almost taste, and bringing Hollywood into the mixture soaks the atmosphere in tinsel, cheap it may be yet L.A. wouldn't be the same without the glamour and the vulgar. Add a murder mystery and Chandler who knew the business that built the city, he worked in the studio system ( as a ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Little Sister (Philip Marlowe, #5), Raymond Chandler

The Little Sister is a 1949 novel by Raymond Chandler, his fifth featuring the private investigator Philip Marlowe.

The story is set in Los Angeles in the late 1940's. The novel centers on the younger sister of a Hollywood starlet and has several scenes involving the film industry. It was partly inspired by Chandler's experience working as a screenwriter in Hollywood and his low opinion of the industry and most of the people in it. The book
...more
Dan Schwent
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A woman from a small Kansas town hires Philip Marlowe to find her missing brother. What Marlowe finds is himself ensnared in a web of drugs, blackmail, and murder...

As I've said many times, noir fiction and I go together like a bottle of cheap vodka and nightmares about being chased by coyotes. The Little Sister by the esteemed Raymond Chandler is no exception.

It may be because it's been a few months since I've read one of Raymond Chandler's oddly poetic noir masterpieces but I liked The Little
...more
Glenn Russell
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


"She was a small, neat, rather prissy-looking girl with primly smooth brown hair and rimless glasses. She had no make-up, no lipstick and no jewelry. The rimless glasses gave her that librarian's look." But, Marlowe, you surely must know what she would look like without the glasses, wearing her hair loose and a little make-up and jewelry. Beware! A femme fatale in hiding. This has always remained my very favorite Raymond Chandler novel.

And as far as The Little Sister goes, there is more than ju
...more
Sketchbook
Aug 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the late '40s when RC was sick of Hollywood and
depressed about his wife's health (she was 17 years older),
RC was fretful and feeling more insolent than usual. So he used Movieland as his setting. The titular sister, from the midwest, lands in SoCal looking for her missing brother as, we later learn, they both want to blackmail their Almost Famous Sis who's in Pix. From real life RC borrows a scandal involving mobster Bugsy Siegel who was allowed out of prison for a few days to visit
...more
Evgeny
Jul 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with an exciting chase scene: Philip Marlowe tries to catch a fly... Actually, I am kidding. The PI, not having any case to work on is so bored that he starts hunting aforementioned fly. When a girl shows up on his door he takes her case for a measly sum of $20. The girl came from Nowhere, Kansas (the actual name of the place is Manhattan - and I do not mean NYC location) and she wants to locate her brother who supposedly lives somewhere in LA. The routine investigation leads Mar ...more
William
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mostly a masterpiece: 5-stars for the first 2/3 of the book, his best ever work, which then sadly rushes into the overly complex morass of a resolution. Chandler's final denouement of the villains and their actions seems rushed in places, and unclear in others. You will eventually follow and understand, but it's a lot of work.

Marlowe expresses this towards the end:
Sometimes when I’m low I try to reason it out. But it gets too complicated. The whole damn case was that way. There was never a point
...more
James Thane
The fifth full-length novel featuring Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe opens with the private investigator bored nearly to death when a young woman named Orfamay Quest from Manhattan, Kansas comes into the office and asks Marlowe to find her older brother, Orrin. Orrin came out to California and has recently disappeared. Naturally, all the folks back home are very worried.

Orfamay appears to be a timid young woman who has led a very sheltered life and who is like a fish out of water in Californ
...more
Dave
Dorothy, You're Not in Kansas Anymore

"The Little Sister" continues Chandler's Philip Marlowe franchise, a private eye series that became the mold for so many private eyes that followed in the succeeding decades. Chandler had the knack of combining the gritty realism and day to day language if the streets with a witty prose that sometimes had no match in the way he could turn a phrase.

Chandler used his alter ego Marlowe to poke fun at stereotypes of people. And there's no better example of that
...more
Brandon
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
“Wonderful what Hollywood will do to a nobody. It will make a radiant glamour queen out of a drab little wench who ought to be ironing a truck driver’s shirts, a he-man hero with shining eyes and brilliant smile reeking of sexual charm out of some overgrown kid who was meant to go to work with a lunchbox. Out of a Texas car hop with the literacy of a character in a comic strip it will make an international courtesan, married six times to six millionaires and so blasé and decadent at the end of i ...more
Darwin8u
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This novel used similes that were long and round and thin, like a rattailed file that has been ground smooth.

This novel is a sort of sad whisper, like a mortitian asking for a down payment.
This novel had a low lingering voice with a sort of moist caress in it like a damp bath towl.
This novel felt like a nice leg.
This novel was brought up straight, like the wicked foreman of the Lazy Q.
This novel sounded like somebody putting aways saucepans.
This novel flashed like lightening.
This novel burned li
...more
AC
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-mystery
This one is very hard to rate. So let's call it 4.5 stars. There are flaws. The plot really *is* too complex, as Marlowe himself admits. And at times, especially in the first half, there is an even deeper problem. Marlowe is (always has been and always will be; see Chandler's letter to D.J. Ibberson, dated April 19, 1951) 38, but the author himself at the time of writing was already 61 -- and, quite obviously, none too happy about it. That discrepancy of voice is sometimes too apparent. On the o ...more
Ed
Jul 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rambling plot sometimes hard to follow, BUT the P.I. Marlowe bittersweet voice teems throughout. Famous metaphors work well. The wrap-up is pretty decent. This book skewers the Hollywood glitterati.

5/23/20 My comments from my first reading don't really change after my second reading. Marlowe mentions he's 37. I'd always pictured him as older, 50s maybe.
Paul E. Morph
This is yet another wonderful hard boiled, crime noir novel featuring the original gumshoe, Philip Marlowe. He's hired to find a young woman's missing brother but, this being a Chandler novel, nothing is ever that simple.

I think this may have been my favourite of the bunch, so far. I really liked how well Chandler expressed his protagonist's loneliness, ennui and overall vulnerability. I feel like I know Marlowe a lot better now, in a way that I didn't from reading the previous four books. Also,
...more
notgettingenough
My, was Raymond in a foul mood when he wrote this. Fine by me as I was in one when I read it.

I see this book's copped a bit on goodreads. Unfair. Totally unfair. If you get the drift, the guy's got the shits and he is looking at life from the wrong end of the telescope, he does such a good job of that.

There are two types of people in the world. The ones for whom money is everything: they need to get as much of it as possible, take it willynilly from whereever they can, make sure nobody else gets
...more
Shannon
The usual Marlowe goodness with more flirtatious, suspicious women than usual. Narrated by Elliot Gould.

MY GRADE: B plus.
Emma
Feb 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Superb!
TXGAL1
Aug 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Philip Marlowe, Private Detective...another crime noir story set in Los Angeles and involving the Hollywood crowd. Enjoyable for an oldies classic read.
Nancy Oakes
I love this series. Absolutely. If modern American crime writers could write like this, my tbr pile would be beyond overflowing.

If you want a little more about this book than what I've written here, you can click here and read about it at my reading journal. Otherwise, read on.

Like all of the Chandler novels so far, The Little Sister has a plot that is once again overly convoluted and overly complex, but Chandler is in rare form here, having Marlowe spill his guts about the city, his job, the
...more
Nicholas Karpuk
Oct 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dames, Broads, Down on their luck joes, flat foots, PIs, hired goons
It was either the third or the fourth time a dame, in a fit of histrionics kissed Philip Marlowe that I became slightly exasperated.

Don't get me wrong, Raymond Chandler is a good writer, his prose is packed with cleverness to the point of overflowing, the dialogue snaps, and everything has the cool sleazy vibe of old time Hollywood.

But even one of the characters points out how baffling it is that ladies just seem to want to lock lips with sadsack detective Philip Marlowe.

Otherwise, the writing
...more
Quentin Wallace
This one had my head spinning. I have read some of Chandler's short stories before, but I believe this was the first novel I'd read from him. The plot was a little too complex and convoluted for me, as by the time it was over I was just glad to be done. It started out interesting enough, and of course it's very well written hard-boiled fiction. I just lost track of the many characters and their motivations. Phillip Marlowe is the quintessential private eye, and a great character. Really, all of ...more
Carla Remy
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is going to be a very unpopular statement: I don't think Raymond Chandler is an amazing writer. Okay, fine, I think he's a good writer. But not amazing. I think he's loud, so many similes, comparisons, poetry. Uneven (some of his books I really like, some I don't).
Greg
Book 226 - Mid-20th Century North American Crime Readathon - Round 10
Chandler isn't famous for plot and resolution. But here, the plot is linear, makes sense, has great clues and red herrings, has a good series of investigations, and has an ambiguous ending: you just can't keep the girl in Kansas after she's been chasing her own Oscar in Hollywood. I've now read all 7 of Chandler's novels, PLUS I've read "The Annotated Big Sleep" and that book added so much to my understanding of Chandler, a ver
...more
Daren
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Number 5 in Chandler's Philip Marlowe series, and a strong novel this one. It has the usual smart-mouth Marlowe with his low opinion of himself, with his clever thoughts and the complexity of a story he takes time to work out. One of the things I love about Marlowe is how he gets it wrong, or realises too late (as he sinks to the ground, usually), but comes back strong.

In this story, Marlowe's client - She was a small, neat, rather prissy-looking girl with primly smooth brown hair and rimless gl
...more
Jamie
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Chandler at his cheekiest, with wisecracking Marlowe in top form as he goes toe to toe with with mobsters, the LAPD and Hollywood. Marlowe also appears more introspective, self critical and vulnerable than I've seen him, giving him some more emotional depth and soul. The missing persons turned murder case plot arc initially feels a bit formulaic for Chandler, but becomes muddled as the story develops and a bunch of tenuous plot threads and supporting characters are introduced that are di ...more
Aditya
May 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Mini Review

The most cynical book in Chandler's oeuvre, the quick wit of the initial books in the series had been modified into an unflinching bitterness. It's almost as though the gloves are off, Chandler is weary off all the saccharine hypocrisy of the world and he calls it out as he sees it and it makes for spectacular reading.

The corrupt city with its cynical cops, decadent dames with their starlet sisters and off course Marlowe himself round off an impressive cast. The plot is turned and twi
...more
Tristram Shandy
Marlowe Is Back Again, but in a Rather Bad Mood

In 1949, after a spell of almost six years, Raymond Chandler had his hero Philip Marlowe re-enter the stage in The Little Sister, a weird case of multiple blackmailing and mob murder. It all starts in a seemingly harmless way when Orfamay Quest, a rather prim-looking, mousy young woman asks him to find out the whereabouts of her brother Orrin. Marlowe, in a strange way fascinated and simultaneously revolted by the demure and holier-than-thou Orfamay
...more
Filip
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Originally published over at my blog, The Grimoire Reliquary. Read it there if you want a song to capture the mood of Chandler's work!

This is my penultimate Philip Marlowe novel and I am so happy with it, you guys.

The Little Sister is as self-reflective, exhausted and close to broken that I’ve seen Raymond Chandler’s PI get. He’s not having an easy time with what promised to be a simple enough missing person case, full of deceptive femme fatales, drugs, corpses and very angry cops. For once, Ma
...more
Cathy DuPont
Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: noir fans, hard boiled fans
Turn left; now go 3.15 miles south and make a U-turn back .34 miles; go right 5.34 miles; and on and on. That was how this hard-boiled noir classic read for me from about half way through to the end. When I thought I had everything in its right place, who did what to whom and why, everything got jumbled again and I’m back to square one and not sure who did what in the last 20 pages I read. It was a very complex novel but an excellent example of my favorite genre from one of my favorite writers a ...more
Joel Lacivita
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another fantastic Raymond Chandler book!! This time Marlow goes into Hollywood and we get his take on the the movie business in the late 1940's. His prose is top notch and one of a kind. I marvel at the consistency of the writing and constantly colorful analogies and metaphors. One of my all time favorite writers.

The Little Sister deals with a young woman who is trying to find her brother and of course Marlow is hired to do the job. He works his way through a labyrinth of high life sleaze tr
...more
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3,725 followers
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

Other books in the series

Philip Marlowe (8 books)
  • The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe, #1)
  • Farewell, My Lovely (Philip Marlowe, #2)
  • The High Window (Philip Marlowe, #3)
  • The Lady in the Lake (Philip Marlowe, #4)
  • The Long Goodbye (Philip Marlowe, #6)
  • Playback (Philip Marlowe, #7)
  • Poodle Springs (Philip Marlowe, #8)

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