It was about eleven o’clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.
Now you have. That's the opening paragraph of THE BIG SLEEP, Ray's first novel. One thing that gets lost in the translation: Published in 1939, four million dollars was a whopping number. In today's dollars, almost $400 million.
My boss, The Famous Author, read that paragraph for the first time in 1969. TFA mentioned he was working on a novel, and the old rim rats at the newspaper told him to forget it, he'd never write anything as good as this. Be a bitch if the bastards were right, but TFA keeps trying.