S.G. Browne

Fiction Friday: The Big Sleep

Welcome to Fiction Friday: Lucky Bastard Edition, where I’m spotlighting the novels that influenced and inspired the writing of Lucky Bastard.

Last week I interviewed Ian M. Dudley, author of Marlowe and the Spacewoman. In Dudley’s novel, the main character is a futuristic clone who has taken on the identify of a famous fictional detective. In The Big Sleep, written by Raymond Chandler more than 70 years ago, the real Philip Marlowe makes his literary debut.

First, a little background:

Prior to writing Lucky Bastard, I hadn’t read a lot of detective fiction. And what I had read was years ago and mostly forgettable. But as I’d decided to make Nick Monday, my main character, a private detective, I thought it would be a good idea to do a little reading research before I got started.

On the advice of a couple of members of my writers’ group, who had both written novels that featured private detectives as protagonists and contained some mystery/noir elements, the first book I picked up was Raymond Chandler’s debut novel written in 1939. And if The Big Sleep is the only book I would have read, I wouldn’t have gone wrong.

I was hooked on the first page. The narrative voice, humor, style, and tone pulled me in like a pair of inviting arms and held me in their embrace.

Without getting into any plot details: the story moves along at a brisk pace and the mystery unfolds page by page, keeping you turning them, until you arrive at a satisfying conclusion and can’t wait to pick up another Chandler novel and get back into the world of Philip Marlowe.

Even though the plot is compelling and the story well-crafted, it’s the writing that brings you back. Chandler has a knack for narrative drive and creating characters and writing dialogue that seems like it could have happened. And it never gets dull.

While I didn’t know much about Chandler before I read The Big Sleep, I’ve learned that he is considered one of the fathers of hard-boiled detective fiction and has had an immense influence on other writers of the genre. Consider me influenced.

Purchase The Big Sleep at:

Filed under: Fiction Fridays,Lucky Bastard,Movies and Books — Tags: , , — S.G. Browne @ 7:00 am


  1. I had a similar experience with The Big Sleep: I didn’t know much about the mystery genre when I picked it up, and by the time I put it down I knew that I’d found my literary home. You get to tell a compelling story *and* have this much fun with the English language? I’m in!

    Comment by Steve — February 26, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  2. Exactly. I’m surprised it took me so long to find my way to Chandler’s writing. Thanks for the comment!

    Comment by admin — February 26, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

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