The Big Sleep


Raymond Chandler’s the Big Sleep is the definitive hardboiled detective story and Philip Marlowe the perfect the perfect expression of the cynical, world-weary gumshoe. Hired by the crippled General Sternwood to shake off a blackmailer, Marlowe has to deal with the general’s two rebellious daughters, the gamblers, and pornographers they run with and, soon enough, some inconvenient murders. Chandlers’ LA and the gutter-life that populate it made crime fiction what it is today and remain unmatched.

Philip Marlowe:

‘I’m a licensed private investigator and have been for quite a while. I’m a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle-aged, and not rich. I’ve been in jail more than once and I don’t do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don’t like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I’m a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers or sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel that the bottom has dropped out of his or her life.’

Quotes I liked from the book:

“I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights.”

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.” 

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

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

“As honest as you can expect a man to be in a world where it’s going out of style.”

Hemish’s speak:

The Big Sleep is the first hard boiled, pulp, private detective, crime fiction novel I read, and boy, am I glad to have come across this genre. Now it is my go to genre whenever I am in a mood for some kick ass entertainment and badassery :p The British might have invented the detective genre but it was American writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, who have made the genre realistic, gritty, stylish, and noir.  The Big Sleep is said to be the finest novel in this genre and the protagonist Philip Marlowe, the quintessential tough Private Dick.

Marlowe is the ultimate badass there is. He is cynical, mean, sarcastic and fearless –hard boiled. He loves his bottle and lives a solitary life. But he has his code which he is abides by: For twenty-five bucks a day and expenses mostly in gasoline and whiskey, he willing to put his life at risk for his client, rub shoulders with gangsters, gamblers, grafters, bootleggers and pimps, dodge bullets, get his guts and face kicked. And yeah, the beautiful, dangerous, seductive dames have nothing on him.  Love the way he handles Mrs. Vivian Regan when she tries getting friendly with him:

‘You’re are as cold-blooded a beast as I ever met, Marlowe. Or can I call you Phil?’
‘You can call me Vivian.’
‘Thanks Mrs Regan.’
‘oh, go to hell, Marlowe.’ She went out and didn’t look back.

and, when she tries to seduce him

“Kissing is nice, but your father didn’t hire me to sleep with you…… The first time we met I told you I was a detective. Get it through your lovely head. I work at it, lady. I don’t play at it.”

 The Big Sleep moves at a furious pace with surprising twists and turns. The hits keep on coming and ending is unpredictable. It is super fun watching Marlowe unraveling the case, with the odds stacked against him. Raymond Chandler’s writing is beautiful, stylish and minimalistic. It is deceptively simple, yet it packs a wallop.  Entire generations of writers have tried to emulate his style but few have come close.

The Book is also filled with sarcasm, witty one-liners, and entertaining conversations. Here is my favorite:

“Her hot black eyes looked mad. ‘I don’t see what there is to be cagey about,’ she snapped. ‘And I don’t like your manners’
I’m not crazy about yours,’ I said, ‘I didn’t ask to see you. You sent for me. I don’t mind your ritzing me or drinking your lunch out of a Scotch bottle. I don’t mind your showing me your legs. They’re very swell legs and it’s a pleasure to make their acquaintance. I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them during long winter evenings.”

Bottom line: 

If you like crime fiction, you would love this book. If you don’t like crime fiction you will still like it. It is that good.

Highly recommended!

(Rs. 169/- @ flipkart)

Book:The Big Sleep
Author:Raymond Chandler





Publishing Date:2008
Publisher:Penguin Popular Classics
Number of Pages:272


  1. now this is a review that totally stands out- it's absolutely delightful! i love the quotes & excerpts from the book, and every bit of ur review. if this book has got sarcasm, i'm reading it for sure! :)

  2. interesting review ! totally made the book worthy of a read .. keep reading more and reviewing :D

  3. @Awwww thanks a bunch arpita... do read it, i am sure ur wil like it

    @Nimue thanks! will be more regular as I am back to the novel reading mood :p

  4. Hahahaha!! Damn good review. We need some more like this. Well I would ask just one question, and i hope you all will clarify me, but why is SEX such an important part of modern detective and crime thrillers?? And as for the book the author seems witty enough so i would definitely try to read it!!

  5. @Koustabh thanks!! u should definitely read it and coming to sex part i guest most of the crimes committed due to passion, jealousy, hate, rejection and sex is the one of the most prime motivators..

  6. whoa! amazing review

    time to put Poirot and Miss Marple to one side and read this for once


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