This is my entry to Rich Westwood’s 1939 challenge hosted at Past Offences. The challenge is for readers to review a mystery, story or film that first appeared in 1939. The Big Sleep fits that criteria and provided the incentive I needed to finish reading it.
Raymond Chandler (1888 to 1959) is an author I have tried reading many times within the last two years. Chandler’s work is highly regarded and he is cited as being the first writer to set the standard in hardboiled detective fiction. The Big Sleep (1939) introduces his iconic detective Philip Marlowe who works and lives in West Hollywood. The opening paragraph gives the reader a clear picture of the character narrating this 234-page story:
I was wearing my powder-blue suit , with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief , black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. 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. Chandler, Raymond; Amsel Movie Tie-In Cover, Richard (2002-06-11). The Big Sleep: A Novel (Philip Marlowe) (Kindle Locations 17-19). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Continue reading
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was published in 1902 and it concludes my reading of Sherlock Holmes after finishing two earlier stories: A Study in Scarlet (1887) and The Sign of Four (1890).
The Hound of the Baskervilles is said to be the best book in the Sherlock Holmes canon as rated by Sherlockians from all over the world in 1999. Completing only three stories thus far, I’d rate this one high above the earlier stories, too.
As the title suggests, the story is about a menacing hell-hound stalking the Baskerville family. It’s a curse that has dogged them for generations and has caused concern about the manor one day being unoccupied. Not long into the story, the supernatural hound claims another Baskerville, which prompts a visit to 221B Baker Street. Continue reading
The Sign of Four was published in 1890 and it is the second adventure of Sherlock Holmes and his friend and companion, Dr. John Watson, MD. Holmes labels this next case as the “Mysterious Business of Upper Norwood.”
The story opens with Sherlock Holmes injecting himself with a stimulant – cocaine:
With his long, white, nervous fingers he adjusted the delicate needle, and rolled back his left shirt-cuff. For some little time his eyes rested thoughtfully upon the sinewy forearm and wrist all dotted and scarred with innumerable puncture-marks. Finally he thrust the sharp point home, pressed down the tiny piston, and sank back into the velvet-lined arm-chair with a long sigh of satisfaction. -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Sign of the Four (Kindle Locations 21-25). Continue reading