Book Review: The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

The Big SleepRaymond Chandler  The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

Murder mysteries and detective fiction is not quite my thing but I wanted to read Chandler. Writing gurus laud Chandler as the ultimate in capturing vivid scenes. Sample the opening paragraph of the book – quoted often by the writing books –“ it was about eleven o’ clock…. I was wearing my powder-blue suit with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was walking on four million dollars” or this… “This was a broad stained glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn’t have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable and he was fiddling with the knots on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him. He didn’t seem to be really trying.” How’s that for imagery and humor. Amazing indeed. However the eye for detail, surprisingly gets a bit tiresome – especially if unaccompanied by humor. A simple enough mystery, a few twists and turns – but nothing to shock you out of your socks. Fast paced and witty and humorous. Written over 50 years ago, it can’t compete with the complex mysteries of today.

Recommendation: I’d rather read Chandler’s quoted texts in the writing books

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