Wednesday, July 15, 2020

"The Little Sister" by Raymond Chandler

I think this is my least-favorite book by Raymond Chandler.  Don't get me wrong -- I still love Chandler's writing.  Deeply love how he writes.  But... I don't like anybody in this book except Philip Marlowe.  Everyone else is just as rotten as can be.  So, while I still love Marlowe and I still love the writing, it's my least-favorite book by my favorite author.

So, Philip Marlowe takes a job finding the missing brother of a sweet young girl fresh off the train.  She offers him twenty dollars and naive face full of worry, and Marlowe is just kind enough to take the job.  Kind enough and bored enough.

The deeper he digs, the weirder things get.  People die.  Quite a few people.  Marlowe himself gets drugged, threatened, and hauled down to the police station for questioning.  And gets propositioned by several different women because of course he does.

However, Chandler's words worked their magic and got me through the final stages of revising my own book and polishing up the prose, so yay!

Particularly Good Bits:

He held his hand out.  I shook hands with him, but not as if I had been longing for the moment to arrive (p. 28).

California, the department-store state. The most of everything and the best of nothing (p. 80).

"The fear of today," he said, "always overrides the fear of tomorrow.  It's a basic fact of the dramatic emotions that the part is greater than the whole.  If you see a glamour star on the screen in a position of great danger, you fear for her with one part of your mind, the emotional part. Notwithstanding that your reasoning mind knows that she is the star of the picture and nothing very bad is going to happen to her.  If suspense and menace didn't defeat reason, there would be very little drama" (p. 115).

I won't say the pieces were beginning to fall into place, but at least they were getting to look like parts of the same puzzle.  Which is all I ever get or ask (p. 136-37).

     "The citizen is the law.  In this country we haven't got around to understanding that.  We think of the law as an enemy.  We're a nation of cop-haters."
     "It'll take a lot to change that," I said.  "On both sides."
     He leaned forward and pressed the buzzer.  "Yes," he said quietly.  "It will.  But somebody has to make a beginning" (p. 227).

(Mine from my Instagram account)

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:   R.  Lots about drugs in this one, some bad language, and a lot of non-explicit dialog that's so heavy on the innuendo, it almost drips sex.  Did I mention this is my least-favorite?


  1. Oops, and I just ordered exactly this book yesterday at my favourite bookseller because I've watched movies based on Chandler scripts but have never ever read a book written by him... Hmmm, which Chandler books would you recommend?

    1. Andrea, even my least-favorite Raymond Chandler is still good :-) My favorite is Lady in the Lake, and I think The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are probably my other two favorites.

  2. Thanks a bunch, Rachel. Will give the Sister a try and switch to the Lady if more appropriate ;-)


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