Sunday, April 09, 2006

Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep

Famously, Raymond Chandler’s “The Big Sleep” had a plot so complex, that when it was originally filmed the producers telegraphed Chandler to check who had killed a minor character. “I’ve no idea” came the author’s response.

This is the first novel were we are introduced to cool, hard-drinking, detective Philip Marlowe. It’s a gritty, dirty job this one, and he’s the detective to do it.

After initially being asked to investigate a blackmailer for a elderly oil millionaire, Marlowe find’s himself sucked into a complex world of murder, double-crossing, black mail and violence. Marlowe is of course equally at home with the violence, but he isn’t some angel of justice either. He’s prepared to give as good as he gets. And he hates the cops as much as the criminals.

It’s a great read. It is, at least on first reading, hard to work out what the hell is going on… but that’s the charm and the fun. Detective fiction was never the same after this Philip Marlowe first lit a cigarette and gazed around him with cynicism. It’s certain you’ll not be the same either.

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