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#88- The Classic Hardboiled Crime Novel: Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

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This week, Scott and Karl read the 1939 novel by Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep. This hardboiled crime novel is the first of seven novels to feature the famed detective Philip Marlowe.

As Chandler’s first Marlowe story, there is no introduction to the character; rather, we leap straight into the investigation as it gets underway. Throughout the novel, Marlowe finds himself entangled with kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder, but as Scott points out, “You have to have your eyes wide open… It’s really nasty without him putting it right in your face and hitting you over the head with how dark it all is.”

Heralded as one of the finest prose writers of the twentieth century, Chandler writes as if pain hurt and life mattered. Karl says, “Chandler is able to provide this contrast between beauty on the one hand and horror on the other.”

The duo talks about how these gritty, realist detective stories present a new kind of hero. Scott says, “The detective never wins. He might solve the problem, but he’s never better off at the end of it. He’s swept up in a world of conflict and intrigue and he’s put down at the end of it right where he was.” Karl adds, “He’s an outsider able to solve crimes and see the truth of the society he’s living in.”

Tune in and learn more about the quintessential urban private eye.

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