The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler
1939

“Raymond Chandler invented a new way of talking about America, and America has never looked the same to us since.” So says the master of the literary mystery Paul Auster. A drunk, a philanderer, a romantic, a three-time attempted suicide, and a man who started his literary career after getting fired at the age of 45, Chandler ranks right up there with Dashiell Hammett as master of the pulp crime novel. His recurring character, Philip Marlowe, set the standard for all that followed, and the film adaptations of his work had a major influence on the development of film noire. You’ve got to be prepared for periodic bouts of misogyny, racism and homophobia, but there’s no denying his impact on pulp fiction, crime fiction, and the whole ‘hard boiled detective’ thing in book and film.

The Big Sleep is the first and best-known of the Marlowe books – twice adapted to the big screen and earning a spot on many a top books of the twentieth century list. Rare books, compromising photographs and gun-play are the ingredients here, woven together with the sex, betrayals, exposed secrets and dead-pan humour the genre is known for.

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