|02 March 2016|
“There’s Holmes and there’s Marlowe, and then there’s everyone else”, said the pretty, short-haired, spectacled girl at the Strand Bookstore, New York. I nodded in perhaps-agreement. And then we went back to discussing Higashino, Rankin and Camilleri. It was a few years back, but that sentence has stayed with me.
The Big Sleep is one of the novels that make up the elite canon of detective fiction. It was released in 1939, and was the first published novel by Raymond Chandler. The hardboiled genre of detective fiction, which was given shape by Dashiell Hammett, was perfected by Chandler. In terms of magnitude and magnificence, The Big Sleep is in my opinion the definitive hardboiled mystery novel.
The plot of the novel is famous for its many twists and turns. At the start, we meet private investigator Philip Marlowe in the mansion of old General Sternwood, an oil baron. Marlowe is offered the job of taking care of a bookseller, Arthur Geiger, who is blackmailing the wild-child younger daughter of Sternwood, Carmen. We also get to know that Sternwood’s older daughter Vivian’s husband, Rusty Regan, who was perhaps a bootlegger and a thug, has disappeared. On his way out of the Sternwood mansion, Marlowe has a rather feisty encounter with Vivian, who is convinced that her father has hired him to search for her husband.