The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
I read this based on a tangential reference from Michael Holzman. It had something to do with Angleton’s orchid hobby and General Sternwood’s being in common (which made me think of another story). The idea of a man hard at work at a difficult task of cultivating and not just plants. There are some stretches of metaphor and imagery but any such attempt is facile at best.
On the other hand , there’s quite a few similarities between the accounts of spies and private detectives. It makes it kind of easy to see the appeal of spy/political thrillers.
My first introduction to the “hard-broiled detective” stories was the Maltese Falcon early on and the similarities are easy to see. Phillip Marlowe is indeed based on Sam Spade. The Big Sleep at first came across as some disparate stories struggling to be the one most heard. This didn’t make much sense until I learned about Chandler’s habit of narrative cannibalization. This one was quite the composite of gritty noire settings and characters: hard detective, hard women, loose women, rich old men, gangsters and killers, detective’s offices, bohemian lairs, faded old money mansions, dodgy bookstores, Hollywood streets, gambling dives, showdown at an isolated farmhouse and a final confrontation in the remains of prosperity.
The sex was eye-opening, at least in an older book. With all the talk old people spout about how the good old days were so pure and good. This one implies that Marlowe is gay at some points, has stereotyped homosexual behavior, implies that the older sister is a taciturn lesbian, the younger sister is psychotic pervert, there’s pornography, affairs and adultery, offers of sex, etc. etc.
In other words, go read this book! It just won’t give much insight into Kryptos…