A Kinda Sorta (Most Definitely) Review of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

Spoilers ahead (but who cares, it was published 80 years ago.)

It happened again. I may need to lay off books published before 1970 because clearly I have issues with just about every one I read.

I decided to read this after playing around online and looking up detectives I’d never read before. It didn’t hurt that Raymond Chandler is something of an icon in mystery circles. But, oh boy.

Philip Marlowe is a PI in LA. The book was published in the 1930s, so I guess the assumption is that it takes place during the same period. There are a number of mentions of prohibition. He’s hired by a rich guy who’s getting blackmailed.

I’m going to start with some of the positives:

NONE.

I’m not exaggerating or trying to be silly. There is nothing I can point to in this book that I really enjoyed. But don’t get me started on the negatives.

The writing style made me want to claw my eyes out. How many times can one person say “you’re cute” in a single work? My goodness. No creativity whatsoever.

There are two women who have prominent roles in the story and both of them (they’re sisters) separately are throwing themselves at Marlowe. Ugh. But he’s got the moral compass of Jesus and takes neither of them up on their offer.

Multiple times during the story he slaps women across the face.

There is absolutely no action throughout the story. I kept thinking at some point something would have to happen. Nope.

Twice he went into bad situations without a weapon of any kind against fully armed guys. And twice he got out just fine. Okay, fucking Zeus.

His wit and humor are awful. He’s not funny. Clearly he influenced later detectives, but they’re much better written.

Everyone was smoking the whole book. I have cancer now.

I rated it a 2 star read, and it was just above 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Honestly, it was shaping up to be a 1 star rating from me until the last 5 pages or so.

Definitely do not recommend to any reader, ever. I can come up with several modern detectives much more intriguing than this bozo.

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