Only to Sleep

A Philip Marlowe Novel
Narrated by: Ray Porter
Length: 7 hrs and 16 mins
4 out of 5 stars (194 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Lawrence Osborne brings one of literature’s most enduring detectives back to life - as Private Investigator Philip Marlowe returns for one last adventure.

Named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review and NPR

Nominated for the Edgar and Shamus awards

The year is 1988. The place, Baja California. And Philip Marlowe - now in his 72nd year - is living out his retirement in the terrace bar of the La Fonda hotel. Sipping margaritas, playing cards, his silver-tipped cane at the ready. When in saunter two men dressed like undertakers, with a case that has his name written all over it.   

For Marlowe, this is his last roll of the dice, his swan song. His mission is to investigate the death of Donald Zinn - supposedly drowned off his yacht, and leaving behind a much younger and now very rich wife. But is Zinn actually alive? Are the pair living off the spoils? 

Set between the border and badlands of Mexico and California, Lawrence Osborne’s resurrection of the iconic Marlowe is an unforgettable addition to the Raymond Chandler canon. 

Praise for Only to Sleep:

“A new case for Philip Marlowe and - have a smell from the barrel, all you gunsels and able grables - it crackles.” (The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice))

“Brilliant. Osborne and Chandler are a perfect match.” (William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart)

“A Marlowe we at once know, but have never met before. As much a meditation on aging and memory as it is a crime thriller.” (Los Angeles Times

“It’s the kind of book where, when you read it, it turns the world to black and white for a half-hour afterward. It leaves you with the taste of rum and blood in your mouth. It hangs with you like a scar.” (NPR)

©2018 Lawrence Osborne (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Osborne, an accomplished writer of fiction and nonfiction, has been asked to imagine a new case for Philip Marlowe and - have a smell from the barrel, all you gunsels and able grables - it crackles." (New York Times Book Review

"Only to Sleep admirably sidesteps the pitfalls of Chandler-esque pastiche...in its place, a Marlowe we at once know, but have never met before. As much a meditation on aging and memory as it is a crime thriller." (LA Times)

"Brilliant.... Osborne and Chandler are a perfect match." (William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart and Solo: A James Bond Novel

What listeners say about Only to Sleep

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Brilliant resurrection of greatest detective in US fiction

Lawrence Osborne was an excellent choice by the Chandler Foundation to resurrect Marlowe. The book succeeds at every level w a bonus of beautiful literary riffs every few pages....historically and geographically accurate...as Marlowe/Chandlers voice rings true. The eccentric gumshoe comes out of retirement in Southern CA for one last job at age 72 into a sleazy and violent world of hustlers and grifters operating on the coastal towns in Southern California and Northern Mexico. Ray Porter shines as the voice of a worldly and articulate Marlowe while deftly handling accents and pronunciations of the credible characters that appear. As a 72 year old Chandler fan who is well traveled in the Mexican locations where most of the novel’s action takes place I particular enjoyed this brilliant resurrection of my favorite private eye by one of my favorite writers.

15 people found this helpful

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Ray Porter is spot on!

This is great story and Ray Porter nails Philip Marlowe! I loved how they described the atmosphere of the cities on Mexican coastline.

6 people found this helpful

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untarnished / unafraid

does the detached, hard-boiled fiction of raymond chandler fascinate you ?
do the sun baked spaces of southern california hold a romantic allure for you ?
well, lawrence osborne's "Only to Sleep" has eloquently re-created that world for you

an honorable and lonely man is on an adventure, in search of a hidden truth
the work of an aging private investigator is the scaffold on which that adventure hangs
the tough minded detachment of our detective is both compelling and amusing

this honest and common man is an enduring modern fictional hero for a reason
as jeremiah 17:9 predicted long ago "... the heart is deceitful above all things ..."
if a new twist on that ancient saying intrigues you, then this is a book for you

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent

I was excited but a little trepidatious when I found out about this book. With Ray Porter reading and the premise, it seemed promising, but taking on a literary icon can find many wanting.

In my opinion, this flows almost seamlessly from late Chandler. I got a little hung up on age (if Marlowe was 33 in 1936, how could he be 72 in 1988?) but that was really the only thing that stuck out as a raw edge. This Marlowe has seen a lot of bad things and remembers them, and while he doesn’t have the capacity for frequent work, he yearns to be useful again.

There’s something heartbreaking and haunting for me about seeing Marlowe as an old man who is now mostly memories. As a huge Chandler fan, that was a little difficult for me, but this is so well done and Ray Porter gives an excellent performance.

2 people found this helpful

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Pale Imitation

Ray Porter does his normal marvelous job as narrator. I really wish his performances of Chandler's original novels were available via Audible here in the U.S. As for the book itself, if you want to listen as a 70 plus year old Marlowe muses that the world has passed him by, this is your book. Osborne falls in love with the sound of his own authorial voice on the page and gives us a plot that goes nowhere and a narrative that comes across as ponderous even at a brisk 250 pages. Marlowe repeatedly talks about how pointless his investigation is and how he should just give up and go home. I won't spoil it except to say that you'll wish you did to. There are a few flashes of Marlowe being Marlowe and a clever literary reference here and there which earn this 2 stars instead of one. This one makes the other recent Marlowe novel THE BLACK-EYED BLONDE look like an instant classic. Wow, what a waste.

4 people found this helpful

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Perfect Title - It Definitely Put Me To Sleep

I step forward to write a review as a service to anyone hoping for an interesting listen. Forget it. This is one of those novels where the author is so intent on painting pretty pictures with words that he forgets he is supposed to be telling an interesting story. Reminds me of Cormac McCarthy - if you like his oleaginous prose, then you will probably like this. The plot is simple - Marlowe is engaged by an insurance company to find out if a death of one of its insureds really happened, or if it was a scam. Virtually all the story takes place in Mexico where the author spends endless pages rolling around in a thousand descriptions of dusty, cactus-laden, tequila-sodden landscapes, and a dissolute parade of louche Mexicans and Americans living there, and only occasionally advances the plot. I kept jumping ahead in 30-second intervals trying to get somewhere. Finally, thankfully, I came to the end, which was itself a complete fizzle. It was not quite bad enough to ask for my money back, but close.

3 people found this helpful

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PC MARLOW

This could have been a Raymond Chandler story line,at least a first rough draft. This was not the real Phillip Marlow. This was politically correct shell masquerading as Marlowe. There were no snappy, snarky or witty quips. The real Marlow has a humorous and slightly misogynistic Bugs Bunny like attitude. The Phillip Marlow in this is okay with a murdering, mercenary whore who traded her soul and the lives of two men for money. Why? The poor girl was abused. The PC police have struck again.
The story was told in a morose monotone full of ennui and vague regrets. It was as tho Marlow was winding down slowly to a stop. More worried about his next bowel movement than investigating.

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True to spirit & character!

Great look into Marlowe’s waning years. Pulled from retirement for one last mystery.
Well written, and delivered with a perfect cadence by Ray Porter.
Excellent all round.

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No country for old men.

This can be enjoyed on many levels: The language and narration have a rhythmic, poetic quality. The descriptions of Mexico make you want to visit. It’s a great noir story and tale of aging.

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Not Chandler, But a Damned Good Marlowe

As a major admirer of Raymond Chandler and his Philip Marlowe novels, I really enjoyed this addition to the series. While I could discern that it was not Chandler at times, there were so many moments and passages which made me feel as though Raymond Chandler truly had written this work. It has the essence of Philip Marlowe and reads like a novel that Chandler might have penned had he lived a good while longer, and for that alone I highly recommend this book. Lawrence Osborne did a tremendous job with it.