Today we will be reviewing the classic detective crime novel The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, The novel is regarded as one of the best crime books of all time because of its complexity and double crossing. Keep reading to find out what we thought of this classic novel and if you should give it a read!
The Big Sleep Summary
Private investigator Philip Marlowe visits the house General Sternwood, a wealthy elderly man who has two daughters. Marlowe is hired to deal with a bookseller named Arthur Geiger who wants to blackmail Sternwood’s daughter, Carmen. The two daughters are known to be wild and cause problems for their father.
While Marlowe is summoned to deal with the blackmail, Sternwood’s older daughter asks Marlowe is he was hired to find Rusty Regan, Vivian’s husband who has disappeared. The detective chooses not to answer and leaves.
Marlowe heads to Geiger’s bookstore and investigates him. The bookstore is not what it appears. The detective follows Geiger home and stakes his house. A scream breaks the serene calm of the neighborhood and gunshots follow. Two cars speed away and Marlowe enters Geiger’s home to find a dead body and a familiar guest.
The case becomes much bigger than what Marlowe signed up for. There are a lot of secrets and enemies around every corner. Who is the murderer and what happened to Rusty? It is up to Marlowe to find out while not getting killed in the process.
Book Background and Commentary
Like many of Chandler’s works, The Big Sleep was a combination of a couple of his short stories that were published in a magazine. He reworked them to make one coherent novel and added and erased characters to make it work. For this book, he combined Killer in the Rain and The Curtain. The two short stories both had a powerful father who had a daughter and as a result, he merged the father and the daughters. He also borrowed small parts from a few of his other books.
While reading this book, I was mesmerized with the writing and plot. A lot happens in this book and the book never slows down. Just as one mystery gets solved, another mystery pops up and an old or a new character makes an appearance. The pacing and style are amazing and it feels like a noir novel through and through.
After reading this novel, I can see why it is considered as one of the best crime novels of all time. Chandler is in his element and Phillip Marlowe is a fun and wild protagonist with his strict morals. I will be reading more books by Chandler as well as continue reading other Phillip Marlowe novels.
If you enjoy crime novels, then this is a must read. Hardboiled crime novels have come and gone but they have left behind a bunch of amazing books. And The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler is a great example of what made the genre so enticing in the 1930’s.