These two classic novels featuring private eye Philip Marlowe made Raymond Chandler's name synonymous with America's hard-boiled school of crime fiction. The Big Sleep was an instant success when first published in 1939. It centers around a paralyzed California millionaire with two psychopathic daughters; he involves Marlowe in a case of blackmail that turns into murder.
Farewell My Lovely, which Chandler regarded as his finest work, came out the following year. It has Marlowe dealing with the Los Angeles gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women.
"Chandler writes like a slumming angel and invests the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence," said Ross Macdonald. And George V. Higgins wrote: "Chandler is fun to read. He's as bleak as tundra, and his dirtbag characters far outnumber his stellar citizens, but Philip Marlowe is a laconic tour guide through a zoo of truly interesting animals."
About Raymond Chandler
Raymond Thornton Chandler (1888 -1959) was the master practitioner of American hard-boiled crime fiction. Although he was born in Chicago, Chandler spent most of his boyhood and youth in England where he attended Dulwich College and later worked as a freelance journalist for The Westminster Gazette and The Spectator. During World War I, Chandler served in France with the First Division of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, transferring later to the Royal Flying Corps (R. A. F.). In 1919 he returned to the United States, settling in California, where he eventually became director of a number of independent oil companies. The Depression put an end to his career, and in 1933, at the age of forty-five, he turned to writing fiction, publishing his first stories in Black Mask. Chandler’s detective stories often starred the brash but honorable Philip Marlowe (introduced in 1939 in his first novel, The Big Sleep) and were noted for their literate presentation and dead-on critical eye. Never a prolific writer, Chandler published only one collection of stories and seven novels in his lifetime. Some of Chandler’s novels, like The Big Sleep, were made into classic movies which helped define the film noir style. In the last year of his life he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died in La Jolla, California on March 26, 1959.