In Raymond Chandler’s 1949 novel The Little Sister Philip Marlowe takes on what seems like a fairly routine missing persons case. Orrin Quest was a young man from Manhattan, Kansas who arrived in LA and then disappeared from sight. His sister hires Marlowe to find him. The trail leads to a couple of corpses, an up-and-coming movie starlet and an out-of-town gangster.
From there on the plot, in typical Chandler fashion, becomes more and more devious, culminating in not one twist but a whole series of twists at the end.
If you’re already a Chandler fan you pretty much know what to expect – lots of snappy dialogue (the kind of dialogue that has been copied countless times but no-one does it quite as well as Chandler does it), fascinatingly perverse characters, delightfully seedy settings and an abundance of cynicism.
And mixed with the cynicism you get Marlowe, a genuine hero in an age that has little use for heroes. The Little Sister is classic Chandler. Wonderful stuff.