> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 16 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784706371
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $19.99

Only to Sleep

Formats & editions

Philip Marlowe returns - this time penned by cult favourite Lawrence Osborne

Wealthy dead American. Beautiful young widow. This case has PI Philip Marlowe’s name written all over it. Is it enough to bring him back for one last adventure?

The year is 1988. The place, Baja California. Private Investigator Philip Marlowe is living out his retirement sipping margaritas and playing cards when in saunter two men dressed like undertakers with a case that has his name written all over it.

His mission is to investigate Donald Zinn – supposedly drowned off his yacht, leaving a much younger and now very rich wife. Marlowe’s speciality. But is Zinn actually alive? And are the pair living off the spoils?

'Osborne and Chandler are a perfect match' William Boyd

Discover the rest of the inimitable Philip Marlowe series – nine classic Chandler adventures, from The Big Sleep to The Long Goodbye, available now in paperback and ebook from Penguin Books.

  • Pub date: 16 July 2019
  • ISBN: 9781784706371
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Lawrence Osborne

Born in England, Lawrence Osborne is the author of the critically acclaimed novels The Forgiven, The Ballad of a Small Player, Hunters in the Dark and Beautiful Animals. His non-fiction ranges from memoir through travelogue to essays, including Bangkok Days, Paris Dreambook and The Wet and the Dry. His short story 'Volcano' was selected for Best American Short Stories 2012, and he has written for the New York Times Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, the New Yorker, Forbes, Harper’s and other publications. He lives in Bangkok.

Also by Lawrence Osborne

See all

Praise for Only to Sleep

“A highly distinctive writer who quickly becomes addictive… I loved it”

John Gray, New Statesman, **Books of the Year**


Mail on Sunday

“A brilliant Raymond Chandler continuation novel with an ageing Philip Marlowe. Osborne and Chandler are a perfect match”

William Boyd, Guardian

“It's a joy to see Philip Marlowe lured back for one last job by the gleefully unsentimental Lawrence Osborne... If you like noir, pour yourself something cool and enjoy one final dark night of the soul”

Joseph Knox, author of Sirens

“The decayed grandeur of the setting, the mystery of an alluring femme fatale, an old man's tussle with his conscience and his ageing body, and a healthy number of spectacular set-pieces work a subtle magic... both a convincing Marlowe and a seedily satisfying thriller”

Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times

“This is the best Marlowe novel I have read apart from the master's own works... it's the only one I can imagine Chandler liking”

Jake Kerridge, Daily Telegraph, **Books of the Year**

“Osborne succeeds brilliantly... captures the dreamlike quality of the original Marlowe novels”

Bruce deSilva, Daily Mail

“Superb... Osborne's dialogue and description echo Chandler's wit and world-weariness with uncanny skill”

Mark Sanderson, Evening Standard

“An exhilarating talent...one of our finest writers”

Francesca Angelini, Sunday Times

“Lawrence Osborne, an accomplished writer of fiction and nonfiction, has been asked to imagine a new case for Philip Marlow and -- have a smell from the barrel, all you gunsels and able grables -- it crackles...brisk and disarming”

Laura Lipman, New York Times Book Review

“The tone here is elegiac, the pace relaxed. If you’ve missed Marlowe, you’ll find this a worthy addition to the canon”

Barry Forshaw, Guardian

“Philip Marlowe is back in a seedily satisfying thriller on the US-Mexican border”

Sunday Times

“Osborne does a fine job in giving Marlowe a fresh assignment in this evocative, melancholy homage… Only to Sleep is more than a detective story. It is also a meditation on ageing and how, even in the autumn of a man’s life, he still is driven to pit his skills and courage against dangerous adversaries”

Adam LeBor, Financial Times

“Osborne's brilliant innovation is to show us Philip Marlowe as an old man in the late eighties, retired to Mexico. Marlowe's got one last job: looking for a man called Zinn”

Mail on Sunday

“A gripping, elegantly written crime story about age and decline… with its blend of mystery and humanity it’s exactly the sort of novel [Raymond Chandler] would have been pleased to inspire”

Tom Williams, Spectator

“Obviously a lover of Chandler’s work, Osborne has written a novel of excellence, with a good, slightly chaotic plot (as, often, were Chandler’s) and some wonderful atmosphere”

Marcel Berlins, The Times

“The most enjoyable book I’ve read in a long time… I enjoyed it more than the original… it’s Lawrence Osborne being just brilliant”

Katie Law, Monocle Culture Show

“I’m lost in admiration for what Lawrence Osborne has done here… he’s created a brilliant standalone novel… it’s a wonderful book”

John Mitchinson, Monocle Culture Show

“A new Philip Marlowe story based on Raymond Chandler's creation. Marlowe is the man I want to be, both the book character and as played by Humphrey Bogart on film. Here is Marlowe at 72... which just happens to be my age”

Terry Deary, Daily Mail

“A valedictory investigation, complete with sinister bad guys and a memorable femme fatale”

John Williams, Mail on Sunday

“Osborne has mastered Chandler’s gift for metaphor…and deepens Marlowe’s psyche as he responds to “a sad summons from the depths of his own wasted past””

Publishers Weekly

“Osborne’s continuation of Raymond Chandler feels like the real thing”


“[Only to Sleep] is compelling and Osborne often captures Marlowe’s voice”

Paul Connolly, Metro

“Osborne gets Chandler and his version of the enduring detective, Philip Marlowe, is the best I've read... This mystery is well plotted and plays out with a twist to satisfy the readers who figure things out for themselves but still like to be surprised… if Osborne were to write another Marlowe thriller… I will be there to read it”


Related titles