Monday, January 05, 2009

Raymond Chandler - The Little Sister


The Little Sister is not one of Raymond Chandlers better known novels. It is however one of the classic Phillip Marlowe novels and has all the hall marks of the better known stories like "The Long Goodbye" and "The Lady in the Lake".

It begins with Marlowe, bored in his office, chasing the flies that are annoying him. His boredom is disturbed when the oddly named Orfamy Quest visits, looking for a private detective to help her find her missing brother. Orfamy comes from a tiny town in Kansas and holds all the prejudices that you might imagine for someone visiting the big city, with all its vices, for the first time.

The plot itself matters little - Chandler's novels should be read for their atmosphere and description, rather than the complex tales of intrigue and betrayal. This is the sort of story that you just join up to for the ride. On this trip, we follow Marlowe as he meets sex-starved movie starlets, murder victims with ice-picks in their necks and corrupt policemen, as well as nasty gangsters. In some ways, all the cliches are here, in others it's a fabulous example of the detective genre.

Chandler is an amazing writer, whose cynicism towards the inhabitants of the big city will bring many a dry smile to the modern reader. Worth digging this one out from the library.

Related Review

Chandler - The Long Goodbye

2 comments:

Martyn said...

This is one of the best structured Chandler novels - its plot doesn't sprawl as much as the longer works. Some of the scenes are so vividly described that the image projected inside the mind is as sharp as a film. The encounter with the corrupt cops is classic Chandler, but over and above everything else is the way in which Chandler takes language by the scruff of the neck and forces new meaning out of it.

Max Cairnduff said...

I've not read this one, I shall have to add it to my reading list. I adore Chandler, as you say he's an amazing writer and a tremendous prose stylist.

Thanks for the recommendation.