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The Big Sleep

The Big Sleep is a 1939 novel by Raymond Chandler, with two film versions, one filmed in 1946, and one filmed in 1978. more...

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It is the first novel to feature the detective Philip Marlowe, and is considered one of Chandler's greatest works, and one of the seminal works of hardboiled fiction. The story is infamously complicated and hard to follow, with many characters all double-crossing and triple-crossing each other. During the making of the 1946 film, Chandler was asked to help when no one involved with the film could figure out who killed one of the characters, only to reply that he didn't know either.

Plot

Private investigator Philip Marlowe is called to the sprawling mansion of the quadriplegic General Sternwood. He asks Marlowe to deal with a blackmailer named Arthur Gwynn Geiger, apparently a purveyor of rare books. Geiger is involved with the General's nymphomaniac daughter Carmen, and makes her sign promissory notes. Marlowe tells the general that he will persuade Geiger to stop. Before Marlowe leaves, Vivian Regan, the General's other daughter queries Marlowe about the nature of his visit. She is under the impression that he is looking for her ex-husband, Sean "Rusty" Regan who had disappeared about a month ago. Marlowe visits Geiger's bookshop, where he discovers that the assistant, Agnes, knows absolutely nothing about rare books. While he is waiting to talk with Geiger, a customer visits the back room of the store and leaves with a book. After following him and taking the book, Marlowe deduces that Geiger loans out pornography, and then blackmails his customers. Marlowe goes back to the store to see Geiger leaving, and follows him to his house, where he waits outside. After some time, he hears gunshots and a woman's scream. He breaks his way into the house and finds Geiger dead on the floor in front of a camera. Carmen is posing, nude and drugged with laudanum. He takes Carmen home, but doesn't call the police. When he returns to the scene, he discovers that the body has been removed.

The next morning he is telephoned by Bernie Ohls, a policeman, who informs him that the Sternwood's chauffeur, Owen Taylor, has been found dead in the harbour. He apparently drove off the pier and drowned, but the doctor found the cause of death to be a blow to the back of the head. Marlowe visits the bookstore again, and finds that the dirty books are being relocated to the premises of Joe Brody, a friend of Agnes. Brody is trying to take over Geiger's business, including the blackmail. Marlowe goes to his office, and finds Vivian waiting for him. She informs him that an anonymous woman is trying to extort her for the nude photos of Carmen. Visiting the crime scene a third time, Marlowe finds Carmen (who has forgotten the events of the previous evening) looking for the pictures. They are interrupted by Eddie Mars, a gangster who runs a local casino. He claims to be Geiger's landlord, looking for the rent.

Read more at Wikipedia.org


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