The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

I know this book is supposed to be a seminal work in crime fiction whose style has been much imitated, but a lot of it was lost on me. The main problem was the 1930s American slang, which I found hard to follow. Not only did I miss a lot of the wisecracks in the dialogue, but also much of Chandler’s descriptive prose. This was mitigated to some extent by Chandler summing up the story so far every now and then.

Then for my taste the descriptive passages were too long: I don’t want to know the details of every item in a room unless it’s relevant to the plot.

The plot itself is reasonable, but the protagonist Philip Marlowe doesn’t solve the case through any deductive powers but by merely arriving at each scene and bumping into one of the bad (or good) guys. One murder does remain unsolved however.

The mood is captured very well. This is not the sunny California of beaches and surfing, but autumn when it’s always raining or threatening to rain. This darkness is present in most of the characters giving a noir feel to the whole book. 3 stars.

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