My Favourite Novel by Mark Timlin

 

The Big SleepTHE BIG SLEEP by RAYMOND CHANDLER

The Big Sleep is Raymond Chandler’s masterpiece. The best crime novel ever written bar none. Almost single handedly Chandler invented the genre of the hard drinking, hard smoking, hard loving, sharply dressed, first person, private detective, with a wisecrack for every occasion, and a bullet for every bad guy and gal. Over the last seventy years his hero Philip Marlowe has been the template for dozens of crime writers. Just think Ross Macdonald, John D. MacDonald, Robert B. Parker,  Derek Marlowe, Alan Sharp, Timothy Harris, Roger L. Simon, Robert Crais, and yours truly, plus loads more. (Not all first person I admit, but well in the Chandler groove, and if you don’t know any of these authors, Google them)

The novel opens with a paragraph that has been quoted time and time again as a classic of the genre. I don’t intend to reprint it here, just read the book if you haven’t already. And if you haven’t shame on you.

Simply, the plot of the novel is that a rich old man with two beautiful daughters who make Paris Hilton look tame, is being blackmailed. Enter Marlowe, who cuts a swathe through the Los Angeles demi monde, and solves the case quick fast.

Great plot, great characters, great atmosphere. Just the greatest.

Rarely out of print, Penguin put out a new paperback edition in 2005.

Book review: London Boulevard by Ken Bruen

London Boulevard by Ken BruenLondon Boulevard
Ken Bruen, The Do-Not Press, £6.99
Galway writer Ken Bruen lived over a decade in Brixton and Kennington as special teacher for so-called ‘low achievers’. Along the way he picked up a Runyonesque feel for south-east London and its people that first exploded on to the page in the acclaimed noir, ‘Rilke on Black’. This is his sixth since. To call it a crime novel is like saying wine is something to drink. On one level it’s a reworking of Billy Wilder’s ‘Sunset Boulevard’, on another it’s a modern morality tale, thick with misfits, losers and those who prey on them.
Mitchell is released from Pentonville after serving three years for a vicious attack he doesn’t even remember. He’s met at the gates by Norton, a former associate with plans – plans that include violence, extortion and payback. Mitchell is an anti-hero in the tradition of Thompson and Goodis, a flawed character with a curiously twisted sense of morality, but even he realises that things are going too far. Attempting to distance himself from his turbulent past, Mitchell takes a job as handyman in sunny west London, a cop-out those south of the river don’t approve of.
The cast of characters in ‘London Boulevard’ is rich and Dickensian: in Holland Park there’s fading actress Lillian Palmer and her east European butler, Jordan; back in cold, dark SE11 the list is headed by loan shark and general bad guy, Tommy Logan. But the best of the bunch is Mitchell’s sister, Briony; disturbed and maybe a slug short of a massacre, her love for Mitchell pulls him back on to the straight and narrow – almost. ‘London Boulevard’ is truly great entertainment, permeated with a dark and disturbing strand that�ll stay with you long after the final denouement. Treat yourselves. David Peters
Buy ‘London Boulevard’ direct from the publisher click here