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The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep


by Raymond Chandler

Analysis: Tough-o-Meter

We've got your back. With the Tough-O-Meter, you'll know whether to bring extra layers or Swiss army knives as you summit the literary mountain. (10 = Toughest)

(6) Tree Line

How hard can it be read a detective novel, right? The Big Sleep is definitely a page-turner, but don't be fooled into thinking it'll be a walk in the park.

You might not believe it, but Chandler's famous for saying that he doesn't care a lick about plot. But how can you write a detective story and not care about plot? Isn't a detective story all about the plot? Well, as you read The Big Sleep, you'll find that the events of the novel are pretty hard to follow. In fact, about three-quarters of the way through the novel, Marlowe appears to have solved the original case which he had been hired to solve, so the story should be about over. And yet there's still fifty pages left to read because a second plotline takes over. What does it allow Chandler to accomplish? Mainly, it allows him to further develop Marlowe's psychology, as well as the motives of the other characters, even if it totally confuses the plot.

Bottom line, you may get more than a little befuddled when trying to piece together the different puzzle pieces in The Big Sleep, but the true challenge lies in understanding what makes Marlowe tick. And it can get pretty tricky unpacking the complexity of his character. But we know you're up to the challenge.

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