It only took three hours of my reading time, but it packed a mean wallop. At first I couldn't decide whether to picture Marlowe as Elliot Gould or Humphrey Bogart. Gould won out in the end — maybe because the anachronistic language and usage didn't prevent Chandler's writing from feeling relevant to these times. This is a great L.A. novel — with more local references than I could keep up with.
This being L.A., I'm sure most of the locations and neighborhoods mentioned are probably either vanished or mangled beyond recognition since Chandler's day.
The writing is consistently hilarious in just the way Chandler intended. As a longtime observer of the terminus city of the American dream, Chandler no doubt boozed it up with all strata of local society; and it's his English public school education and identity that lends the novel its detached-outsider-looking-in-on-a-morbidly-entertaining -cesspool-of-human-folly tone.
If you want to pick The Big Sleep up from Amazon and give it a read, it's alright with me.