Philip Marlowe(33 years old) is a prive detective. He has a agreement with General Sternwood in October. He meets Carmen Sternwood, a daughter of the general, who like him. Then he start talking with the General.
Philip worked for Mr. Wilde, the district Attorney, as an investigator. Bernie Ohls told Philip that the general want to see him. The general told Philip that he is blackmailed by Joe Brody 9 or 10 months ago. He had to pay 5000 dollars to Joe Brody before Joe let Carmen, the youngest daughter of the general, alone. This time he is blackmailed by Arthur Gwynn Geiger who want a couple of thousand dollars of the general because Carmen has gambling debts. Philip accepts the mission: find Geiger and stop him.
Vivian invited Philip because she thought that he could find out were Regan is. But Philip says not a much and that make Vivian mad. Vivian sends Philip out the room because she were mad of him. Philip goes to Hollywood public library for a research to old- and rare books. This is for him a good excuse to take a look in Geiger’s shop.
In Geiger’s store is a beautifully woman, Agnes, who help the customers. Philip asks for the books: Ben Hur (1860) and Chevalier Audubon (1840). But Agnes has neither of this books. Philip asks if she really sells books, but she didn’t gave answer. So Philip lit up a cigarette and wait until Geiger comes. But than a man comes in trough the backdoor and bought a book. Philip followed him but after he throws the book in the bushes Philip stops following him.
In a drugstore Phone booth Philip finds out that Geiger live don Laverne Terrace, a hillside street off Laurel Canyon Boulevard. In a little bookshop Philip asks a small dark woman for information about Geiger’s. First the woman didn’t want to gave any information about Geiger but finally she described Geiger exactly. After the conversation with the woman Philip goes to his car and looks at the book who the customer has thrown in the bushes. The book was not new. Dates were stamped on the front endpaper, in and out dates. A rent book. A lending library of elaborate smut.
Philip bought a bottle of whisky because he had it cold. Around 4 o’clock Geiger comes out the shop and Philip followed him by his own car. Geiger stopped by a house outside the city and goes inside. There were two cars. The car of Geigner and the car of Carmen Sternwood. This had Philip explored through checked the registration card of the car. After a while Philip sees a flash of light, heard a scream and tree shots of a gun. When Philip runs to the house he heard how someone leaves through the backdoor, gets in a car and drove away. In the house he saw 2 people, one was dead and the other lived.
Carmen, the one who lived, is sitting totally naked on a stool. She is high because she have had some drugs. Geiger, the dead one, is lying dead for some kind of totem pole with a camera in it. The man who run out the house has the film who sat in it. Philip dressed Carmen and he researched the house. He find a notebook in a steel box with a lot of writing in code. He put the notebook in his pocket and he walks away from the house to Alta Brea Crescent.
Philip brings Carmen home in her own car. Philip said to the butler(Norris): See page 43: as a matter of fact I’m not here. You’re just seeing things. Because nobody may know it. Philip walks back to his car who was by the house of Geiger. He takes a bottle of whisky, smoke a cigarette and checked the house. In the house he cannot find Geiger’s body or any clues. In a apartment he finds out that in the notebook names and addresses were written who were probably of the customers.
The police agent ,Bernie Ohls, who gave Philip the Sternwood case has called him because the driver of the Sternwoods, Owen Taylor, is found dead in a new Buick sedan in the sea. Ohls and Philip drove to the place were it has happened. Taylor has a strange wound on his had but he dead because his neck is broken. Taylor was in love with Carmen and run away to marry with her but that did not happen. Taylor also had been in prison for 6 month. Ohls drove Philip back to Hollywood. Philip ate lunch and have another look at Geiger’s store.
In Geiger’s store Philip try to reach the backside of the store but he is stopped through Agnes. Philip says to Agnes he will come back next day. Philip goes out of the shop and walks to the backside of the shop. There he arranged a taxi to follow the truck from Geiger’s store. The truck stopped by the apartment house of Joseph Brody. Truck is loaded with books. When Philip is back a client is waiting for him.
The client is Vivian Sternwood. She has the envelop with the nude photos of Carmen. A woman telephoned Carmen half an hour after the envelop was delivered. Vivian must pay 5000 dollar to the woman. Last night Vivian was playing roulette at Eddie Mars’s Club. Rusty Regan the husband of Vivian ran away with the blonde wife of Eddie Mars.
Philip goes to Geiger’s house and find Carmen in the bushes. Philip and Carmen go into the house and talking about what happened to Carmen. Philip says to Carmen that her photos are gone. Carmen told that the men who has killed Geiger is Joe Brody but she wouldn’t say where he lived. Just when Carmen wanted to leave a man comes in.
Eddie Mars came in. Carmen goes away but Eddie Mars wanted to talk with Philip. Eddie is the owner of the house. Geiger was the tenant of the house. Eddie says that he just checked what was happened because Geiger wasn’t in the shop today and didn’t answer the phone. Philip thinks that the body of Geiger is hiding because they wants a little time for moving the books before the police arrives. After the conversation Philip drove back into Hollywood.
Philip parked and goes to the apartment of Joe Brody. Joe Brody should have at least five hundred books of Geiger’s store. But he acts that he doesn’t no who Geiger is. Philip sees the pointing slippers and Agnes comes out of the curtain. According Philip Joe has killed Geiger but he says that he doesn’t done that. But he admitted that he has the nude photos of Carmen. Than the buzzer rang.
Joe opens the door and sees Carmen. Carmen pushed him back into the room by putting a little revolver against his head. Carmen wanted the nude pictures back. Agnes pointed a gun at Carmen what gave the chance to grab the gun out her hand. Joe tried to grab the gun out of Carmen’s hands and the gun fires. Joe acts that he is injured, let himself drop and pulls Carmen down. Philip picks up the gun and forces him to give the pictures. Carmen goes back to home and Philip back into Brody’s apartment.
Philip took Carmens gun out of his pocket. See page 97: It had a pearl grip, and a small round silver plate set into the butt was engraved: ‘Carmen from Owen’. Joe confirms this because he says that Owen is in love with Carmen and angrily at Geiger because he was playing games with Carmen and taking nude photos of her. Owen shoot Geiger dead and takes the film with him. Joe played copper, sapped Owen down and lifted the plateholder of him. The door buzzer started to ring again. Joe opens the door and a guy (Carol Lundgren) shoot him down. Philip followed the boy and says to him that he has shot the wrong guy. Carol was the sweetheart of Geiger.
Carol drives Philip to Geiger’s house. Philip tells him that he must open the front door because he has the key and he lives there. Carol punches Philip but Philip is mutch more stronger and knocks him down. Than he handcuffs Carol and goes inside. Than Philip goes inside and find Geiger his body on his bed surrounded by burning candles. Philip calls Ohls to look at the body of Geiger. Philip arrested Carol because he had killed Joe.
Philip, Carol and Ohls went to Taggart Wilde. In the police station there sit another man, Captain Cronjager. Ohls tells his story. After his story Philip tells his part of the story. Philip left out Carmen’s visit to Brody’s apartment and Eddie Mars’s visit to Geiger’s in the afternoon.
Philip takes up the phone. It is Eddie Mars. Philip says to him that he did not use the name Eddie Mars in the conversation. Philip says he is not looking for Rusty Regan but Eddie invites him still.
Philip goes to the Missing Persons Bureau and meet Captain Gregory. Philip ask Gregory about Regan but Gregory does not release much information until he told that works for Ohls. Now Philip can ask him questions about it. Regan disappears on 16 September Gregory says with a car of the family. 4 days later the car was found in a garage. Regan married Vivian but it didn’t click and he goes away. Regan leaves with Mona (the wife of Eddie Mars).
Philip went back to his office. Morris called up Philip. He informs Philip that the case is closed. After the call from Morris Philip calls up Eddie and tells him that he would like to speak him this evening. He doesn’t try to find Regan but he asks Eddie if he has sent the grey Plymouth sedan who followed Philip a few days. Eddie says he hasn’t but he looks very surprised.
Vivian set very high very high in and it seems that the casino can not pay her out but Eddie advanced the money. She is ready to leave. Outside Philip hears a man. The man has a mask over it. See page 153: I waited, behind the tree.
When Vivian comes out of the casino they man with the mask pointed a gun at her. Philip manages the man and the gun from him. They walk to they car get in and stop by a drugstore. Philip asks Vivian: What’s Eddie Mars go to her. Vivian said that Eddie probably sent the man with the mask. Vivian ask Philip to drive to Del Ray each club. There they kissed. Philip asks again: What’s Eddie Mars got to her. And repeated it once. And they have a fight again. Philip brings her back home and he also go home.
When Philip returns to home he finds Carmen lying nude in his bed. He rejected her. Philip continue says that Carmen must dress herself. She gets angry and finally she leaves the house.
When Philip wakes up he sees the grey Plymouth who followed him again. Philip says to the driver that he can come along in Philip’s office. The driver called Harry Jones has information that might help Philip to find Regan. If Philip pays Jones 200 dollar Agnes wants to tell where Mona is. First Philip refuges but when Jones tells a few facts Philip agree. He can pay with the 500 cheque he had received from Gregory. Jones also tells about Canino the friend of Eddie.
Philip has promised Jones that he should come to the place where they had agreed. When he arrives he hears voices and decided to wait. He hears that Lash Canino asks Jones where Agnes is but Jones don’t want to tell him. Than Canino pointed a gun at him and Jones told the address. Canino knows enough and gives Jones a drank with poison. Jones dies. Philip wait until Canino leaves the building. Philip looked up Agnes in the phone book with the address who Jones gives to Canino but she doesn’t pick up because Jones gave Canino the wrong address. A moment later Agnes call and they agree that they meet in beside Bullocks Wilshire a half hour later so she can tell where Mona is.
Philip gives Agnes the money and she told that Mona is hiding in Art Hucks garage. Philip drives to the garage of Hucks to see what’s going on. He drives and ends with two flat tires. Hucks wouldn’t let Philip in but order of Canino he does open the door. Canino and Philip had a drink and Hucks repaired the tires. Suddenly Canino attacks Philip and Philip only sees darkness.
When Philip opens his eyes he realized he is handcuffed and he is next to Mona Grant in the house beside the garage. Philip gives Mona the nickname: Silver Wig. Silver Wig undo his ropes but she can not undo the handcuffs because Canino has the key. Philip leaves Mona but not before they had kissed.
Philip takes his gun out of his car with two new tires and get back to Mona. Than Philip goes out again and starts the car of Canino. Canino shot at him 3 times and Philip acts he is dead. Canino believes he is dead. Canino takes Mona out of the house. Philip shot Canino 4 times and he falls down. Mona unlocked Philip’s handcuffs.
Philip goes to Captain Gregory of the Missing Persons Bureau because he had shot down Canino. He tells Gregory that it is a done case. Norris calls him and says that he had to come to General Sternwood. When Philip arrives at the place where General Sternwood lives, he sees Sternwood sick in bed. Sternwood pissed off because Philip went on looking for Rusty Regan while this was not the intention. After explains why he was looking for Regan Sternwood change his mind and gives Philip the order: find Rusty Regan.
Philip sees Carmen sitting outside on a Stone bench. He gives her gun back. She aks him if he want to teach her how to shoot. He agrees. Carmen knows a place, down the hill by the old oil pumps of the Sternwoods. Philip made a target and when he comes back Carmen pointed a gun at his chest. She shot 4 times but there came out no smoke because there were only blanks in the gun. She began to shake and faints. When she opens her eyes she doesn’t remember what happens.
Philip goes to Vivian and talks about what happens. He finds out that Regan is killed by Carmen for the same reason she would kill Philip: because Philip and Regan both refused to go in bed with her. Philip supposed that Vivian gives money to Canino for disposing of the body of Geiger when she went to Eddie for help. And Philips get 15000 dollars from Vivian. Vivian admits it all and told Philip that she had dumped Regan (who Carmen has shoot) in a sump. Vivian must bring Carmen to a place were treat her. If she doesn’t do that within 3 days Philip involved the police. She promised and Philip handles it with Eddie. He go into his car and thinks about what it matter where you lay once you were dead? In other words, ‘the big sleep’ means the dead. See page 251: On the way downtown I stopped at a bar and had a couple of double Scotches. They didn’t do me any good. All they did was make me think of Silver-Wig, and I never saw her again.