The Little Sister

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Author: Chandler, Raymond Thornton (1888-1959)

Year: 1949

Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

Place: London


256 pages. Small octavo (7 1/2" x 5 1/4") bound in original publisher's red cloth with gilt lettering to spine. (Bruccol: XI) First English edition which precedes the American.

The Little Sister is a 1949 novel by Raymond Chandler, the fifth in his popular Philip Marlowe series. The story is set in late 1940s Los Angeles. The novel centers on the little sister of a Hollywood starlet and has several scenes involving the film industry. it was partly inspired by Chandler's experience working as a screenwriter in Hollywood and his low opinion of the industry and most of the people in it.

Chandler, along with Dashiell Hammett, defined the hardboiled school of detective fiction, popularized in pulp magazines such as Black Mask. The hardboiled school was an alternative to the traditional murder mysteries of people like Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. Unlike the mannered, complex plots typical of these authors, the hardboiled stories moved "murder out of the Venetian vase and into the alley" and "gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare, and tropical fish." One thing that distinguished Chandler's hero Philip Marlowe even from his other hardboiled peers is that Marlowe often doesn't apprehend the criminal or explain every plot point at the end of the novel. Marlowe is a witness to events, and, at most, able to manipulate them in subtle ways to balance the scales of justice a bit. Nowhere is this more apparent than in The Little Sister. Marlowe is always arriving too late to prevent a murder or catch the criminal. Even at the very end when he has finally solved the complex riddle of the case, his last act is simply to notify the police too late and let events take their course.


Spine sunned, some bumps to heal edges, previous owner's initials on front end paper else a very good copy lacking jacket.

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