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That Marlowe lives and works in a world where justice simply isn’t guaranteed set the stage for not just for an evolution in detective novels, but predicted the coming of film noir and even the postmodern detective fiction of the late 20th and early 21st century.The legacy of The Big Sleep was confirmed in 2005 when it made Time Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest English-language novels ever published.In the novel it is questionable how lawfully moral he actually is, concerning the situation of turning Carmen into the police for killing Sean Regan.
We open with Philip Marlowe, a private detective, arriving at the house of one General Sternwood, a potential client put forward by a friend of Marlowe's at the District Attorney's office.
Sternwood, an ageing rogue who likes champagne mixed with brandy and oppressively hot rooms, wishes to engage Marlowe in a matter of blackmail.
Upon entering the house, he discovers that Carmen is in the process of being photographed yet again.
She is near senseless with drugs and completely naked. The photographs, which Marlowe had intended to either purchase or steal, are gone.
Geiger is clearly a practised and professional blackmailer.
The demand is sent via a polite little note which helpfully specifies the sum of money required and the arrangements for handing it over.
He had then either been killed by person or persons unknown, or had committed suicide. as a result, Marlowe ends up tracking Brody back to his apartment where he and Agnes have been conspiring.
Marlowe shakes them down, discovering in the process that the pictures in question are in Brody's possession, and that Brody has already used them to blackmail Vivian, Carmen's sister. They are initially interrupted by a drugged, gun toting Carmen, demanding the return of her pictures. Marlowe is on the verge of recovering the pictures himself when a man called Carol Lundgren, who turns out to be Geiger's bereaved homosexual lover, storms the apartment and murders Brody in the mistaken belief that he was Geiger's killer.
Carmen is too intoxicated to be of any help so Marlowe takes her home.
Marlowe is woken later by Bernie Ohls, his friend at the DA's office, who informs him that the Sternwood's chauffeur has been found dead in the family car, Indications are that Taylor, the chauffeur, had been infatuated with Carmen and had, for this reason, shot Geiger for taking nude pictures of his lady love.