I am currently doing research for my next novel, the first installment in a private detective mystery series set in a near-future America where many laws allow citizens to file lawsuits against those who violate these statutes. In these research reports, I summarize what I’m reading and how that book helped me think about my project. In this report: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.
Why I Read It:
To study the inner workings of hard-boiled crime fiction from a master in the genre. In particular, how to start a series featuring an iconic detective.
What I Learned:
There are two main characters in this book: Philip Marlowe, the fearless, dogged private detective with unshakable integrity; and 1930s Los Angeles, with its wide variety of neighborhoods, landscapes and the diverse socioeconomic classes who inhabit those places. These two characters are what drive the story and make it so readable.
My Biggest Takeaway:
Philip Marlowe is the model for my detective protagonist (aside from the outdated views of women and homosexuality). He’s a man with morals and pride embroiled in a world of crooks, cheats and the otherwise corrupt.
Who Would Like It:
Fans of character-driven detective fiction. If that’s you and you haven’t yet read Chandler, stop what you’re doing and pick up a Philip Marlowe book immediately.