Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep is Raymond Chandler's debut novel published in 1939 and it's a corker featuring Chandler's now iconic hard boiled private detective Philip Marlowe. It's filled with memorable characters; tough guys, wise guys, grifters and chancers all playing their roles in the tangled web of a plot. Although complex I really like how much of the detail in the book actually turns out to be connected with everything else. There is no hiding the answers behind piles of irrelevant and unconnected red herrings, which seems to be the the current template for quite a lot of contemporary paint by numbers crime fiction. As more details are discovered and things start to move, stirred by the relentless Marlowe, the picture starts to come together until all eventually becomes clear. Yes I admit, I have seen both film versions many times, though mostly I kept getting flashbacks from the more lurid and inferior 1970s Robert Mitchum version rather than the superior 1940s Humphrey Bogart version. Probably because that version, although set in the wrong country, had more license to depict the more brash and striking elements from the book. And I still haven't mentioned Chandler's colourful and witty similes which are rightly famous and endlessly imitated. Chandler's writing is so much better than the pulp genre it inhabits; there is real heart and emotion here if you persevere to the last page. So if you are stuck for a new detective novel why not give one of the old masters a try. Worked for me.


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  2. happy new year...wishing you all the best in 2010!