Hard-boiled detective fiction at its best: Raymond Chandler's best loved novel, The Big Sleep, published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.
'I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.'
Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is hired by wheelchair-bound General Sternwood to discover who is indulging in some petty blackmail. A weary, old man, Sternwood just wants the problem to go away. But Marlowe finds he has his work cut out just keeping Sternwood's wild, devil-may-care daughters out of trouble as they prowl LA's dirtiest and darkest streets. And pretty soon, he's up to his neck in hoodlums and corpses . . .
Raymond Thornton Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888, but moved to England with his family when he was twelve, where he attended Dulwich College, alma mater to some of the twentieth century's most renowned writers. Returning to America in 1912, he settled in California, worked in a number of jobs, and later married. It was during the Depression era that he seriously turned his hand to writing, and his first published story appeared in the pulp magazine Black Mask in 1933, followed six years later, when he was fifty, by his first novel, The Big Sleep. Chandler died in 1959, having established himself as the finest crime writer in America.