The Big Sleep : Philip Marlowe

  • by Raymond Chandler
  • Narrated by Ray Porter
  • Series: Philip Marlowe
  • 6 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out - and that's before he stumbles over the first corpse.
Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888 and moved to England with his family when he was 12. He attended Dulwich College, Alma Mater to some of the 20th century’s most renowned writers. Returning to America in 1912, he settled in California, worked in a number of jobs, and later married.
It was during the Depression era that he seriously turned his hand to writing and his first published story appeared in the pulp magazine Black Mask in 1933, followed six years later by his first novel. The Big Sleep introduced the world to Philip Marlowe, the often imitated but never-bettered hard-boiled private investigator. It is in Marlowe’s long shadow that every fictional detective must stand – and under the influence of Raymond Chandler’s addictive prose that every crime author must write.

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What the Critics Say

"Anything Chandler writes about grips the mind from the first sentence." (Daily Telegraph)
"One of the greatest crime writers, who set standards others still try to attain." (Sunday Times)
"Chandler is an original stylist, creator of a character as immortal as Sherlock Holmes." (Anthony Burgess)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The first southern California literary masterpiece

Raymond Chandler is the Homer of Lalaland. What Faulkner was for Mississippi, what Hemingway was for the Florida Keys, what Emerson was for Massachusetts; that is what Raymond Chandler was for Los Angeles. He was the author who defined the regional vernacular, who determined the appropriate literary form for all subsequent regional writers.

You may find that statement overblown. You will say, Raymond Chandler was just a mystery writer,. But that misses the point:

The mystery novel is the classic genre of southern California. It captures the tawdry, banal, amoral essence of southern California. It reifies the sordid human drama that grubs out its existence against the southland’s pastoral but polluted landscape, it dramatizes the jejune dreams of quick fame and lucre played out by philistines upon a paradise meant for something more ethereal. The southern California murder mystery is the objective correlative of the despoiled dreams and perverted ambitions of the mercenary felon, the felonious mercenary, who attempts to mint southern California’s “beauty in to power” (apologies to Jackson Browne).

There was no southern California literature before Chandler. Homesick one-offs like F Scott Fitzgerald’s “Last Tycoon” don’t count. Supercilious hatchet jobs by eastern aesthetes like Nathaniel West don’t count. Quick bullet-train excursions by northern Californians like Steinbeck and Norris don’t count. There was no literature in southern California before Chandler. And since Chandler, all writers have been, in some measure, his apprentices. The mystery novel has developed as the essential southern California genre from Chandler through Ross McDonald, and James Ellroy, to the early works of T Jefferson Parker, as a coherent tradition. And the art form could only maintain coherence if it spoke to something tangible and real in the southern California culture.

So read Raymond Chandler. Read everything. Start at the beginning with “The Big Sleep”, and keep going till you get to “The Long Goodbye”. Don’t ask which is best. It would be like asking which Faulkner novel is best. You can’t just pick and choose. They’re all part of a landscape, and you won’t see the entire panorama until you have read through them all.
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- Clodhopper "I'm a geologist and I use Audible books to while away long hours on the road... My pickup truck is my reading room!"

Class Noir

There is very little that has not been written or said about Chandler. Interestingly, not much of that critique is negative. Maybe that's because he defined the genre. He is what everyone remembers of Bogart and Becall. He wrote the smart Alec into existence. Like Hammett, he forged a path that so many have followed it is now a ribbon as wide as Hollywood and populated by more wanabees than, perhaps, any other genre. He took pulp fiction and made it mainstream, populated by Mitchum, Gambon, Downey, Gould and many, many more. I haven't done the research, but I suspect that there are more Philip Marlowes credited in movies than any other character.
So what is defining? I don't know and it's too far down the road to try, but this work (the first credited as a Marlowe mystery and written by Chandler at the ripe age of 51) is the epitome of the class. It has the fast track mouth, the classy babes, the trouble when they walk in the room atmospherics and the rank smell of smoke, whiskey and inexpensive perfume. It has a crime (although, what crime, it is unclear until the credits are rolling), a solution and the great detective that solves every other problem, but this one. Just perfect.
I enjoyed Ray Porter's performance. It reminds me more of Mitchum than Bogie or Gould. A real, "Who gives a Flying ..." delivery. I'm looking forward to listening to more of him.

PS: this is an unabridged version. There are plenty of abridged versions, including radio plays, but the devil is in the detail with Chandler, so I suggest you don't miss a line.
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- Ian C Robertson "Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-09-2014
  • Publisher: Audible Studios