From the Back Cover
"Chandler did not write about crime, or detection--as he insisted he did not. He wrote about the corruption of the human spirit, using Philip Marlowe as his disapproving angel, and he knew about it, down to the marrow."
--George V. Higgins
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful: The best place to start if you're a Chandler novice, January 13, 2003 Reviewer: ciaran1 from Boston, MA USA Seeing as how "The Big Sleep" and "Farewell, My Lovely" are the first two Philip Marlowe detective novels that Raymond Chandler wrote (published in 1939 and 1940, respectively), this is a grand place for a Chandler novice to begin pursuing the morally decrepit alleys and boulevards of the rich and not-so-rich in Los Angeles. One thing you should note is that Chandler held the conventional detective stories (think: Agatha Christie) in disdain. Ergo, any attempt of mine to barf back the plots to you is a waste of time. They are so complex that you often forget exactly what happened shortly after you finish reading the books themselves...which doesn't detract from their quality whatsoever mind you. It's been told often enough that after their publication, Chandler often didn't even know what was going on in his own novels! Suffice to say that both books concern murder among the wealthy elites in L.A. during Chandler's life--a time when the city was a lot smaller than its present size, and more hostile to outsiders--particularly to people of color. "The Big Sleep" concerns a disappearance and a reclusive millionaire and his two daughters (one is a mentally deranged nymphomaniac; the other is a bit more sensible, but no less shady) and the lengths he'll go to protect them. While this isn't the best Marlowe novel, this is probably the best place to start. Plus, it got made into a pretty good movie starring Bogie and Bacall. "Farewell, My Lovely" is perhaps the most politically incorrect of the Marlowe books. It starts off with a murder at a bar in South Central L.A. and extends its tentacles into jewel heists and gambling rings where it is difficult to ascertain exactly who is doing what to whom. In Chandler's L.A., nothing is what it seems. The story itself is engrossing, however, you must prepare yourself for Marlowe dropping the "N" word at least once, and his mockery of an American Indian for speaking in pidgeon English. Remember that this was 1940 and was 25 years before the Watts riots began to put an end to the white-dominated old boys network that used to rule L.A. That in itself makes it an interesting look at the mentality of the powers at be (the wealthy, the LAPD) and see how much has changed since Chandler's day...and how much hasn't. My personal favorite of Chandler's books is "The Long Goodbye"--the second-to-last Marlowe novel that was published in 1954. I would rank both of these books below that one, but "Farewell, My Lovely" is a close second, while "The Big Sleep" is an auspicious debut for the hard-boiled, cynical, yet romantic ... For those who are willing to take more than a passive interest in the works of Raymond Chandler, this two-book set is an excellent place to start. Furthermore, for those who are merely casual Chandler fans, this set is great because these two books are among his best (and it looks nice on your bookshelf too!)