Monday, August 31, 2009

Book 99: The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

I hadn't been planning on reading this until after the Cannonball Read was over, but the book I'd originally started reading was boring me - after three days I was only 150 pages in, and the characters were irritating the hell out of me, so I decided to cut my losses and pick up this novel of a little over 200 pages. I was trying to make it to 100, dammit (also, it didn't help that the last weekend of the challenge I had to drive all over Bavaria and visit people - I had literally no reading time at all).

I guess noir isn't really my genre. The overall plot twists and development were interesting and all and could have made for a very good novel, but honestly, I just didn't like the way Chandler portrayed his characters that much. I of course knew that the genre can be a little sexist, with the femme fatales and all, but I still wasn't expecting this. I guess I figured the femme fatales wold be a lot more fun, instead of having a different tough dame tossed in every few pages.

Philip Marlowe is hired by an aging millionaire to look into a man that is trying to blackmail him and his daughter. He also mentions that his son-in-law is missing. While investigating the blackmail, Marlowe quickly becomes involved in a murder investigation. All this actually clears itself and explains itself very quickly, and Marlowe closes the case to everyone's satisfaction. However, Marlowe just can't let go - the missing son-in-law angle interests him and he keeps digging around.

In addition to the sexism, there was also some homophobia in the novel - I guess I shouldn't expect much else from a novel written in the '30s. I might have been in too much of a hurry to finish this one, but it just didn't quite get me. However, Dennis Lehane's Sacred has been described as a modern updating of The Big Sleep, so I'm definitely excited to see what Lehane did with this plotline.

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