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The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler


Chapters 7–9

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Chapter 7

Marlowe describes the inside of Geiger's house: it is ornate and decorated with silks and cushions, with oriental décor and furniture. Odd smells abound, including the scent of ether in the air. Marlowe sees that Carmen Sternwood is in the room, sitting naked on a chair, with "mad eyes." She seems unaffected by the shooting and unaware of her surroundings. She is clearly drugged, on some combination that includes ether. At Carmen's feet, beyond the fringes of the Chinese rug, lies the lifeless body of Geiger, who has been shot.

Marlowe begins to piece together the events of the night when he notices a hidden camera pointing at Carmen. The camera is hidden in a totem pole with a camera flash bulb attached to it. The bright light had come from the flash, and the yell had come from Carmen's surprise when the flash went off. Marlowe dresses Carmen, who, in her state, is giggling and incapable of dressing herself. Then, Marlowe walks over to the totem pole and realizes that there is no plateholder in the camera—it is not in Geiger's hand either. Indeed, the film plate is missing completely. Marlowe searches the house for the plate and fails. He does find something else, however: a blue leather book filled with writing in some kind of code. Marlowe takes this book with him, places Carmen in her car, and drives her home.

Chapter 8

When they arrive at the Sternwood mansion, Marlowe asks for Mrs. Regan, but learns she is not in. The General is asleep, much to Marlowe's relief. Norris, the butler, takes Carmen and offers to call the detective a cab. Marlowe, however, thinking ahead, refuses the cab so as to make sure there are no traces left behind from his presence at the Sternwoods' that night. He decides, instead, to walk the "rain-swept" streets back to Geiger's house. When Marlowe reaches the house and enters it once again, he notices two things: there are two strips of silk missing from the wall, and Geiger's body is missing.

Marlowe searches the house and cannot find the body. He finds a locked bedroom, which he uses Geiger's keys to open. The room is different from the rest of the house—more "masculine," according to Marlowe. He comes to the realization that whoever has moved the body wants it to look like Geiger is missing, not murdered. Marlowe also believes that it is not the murderer who has hidden the body, but someone else. The murderer left quickly, fearing that Carmen, a witness, may have seen him. Marlowe thinks to himself and comes to the conclusion that it is all right by him for the body to be hidden, as it will give him time to surmise whether or not he can keep Carmen Sternwood off the record in terms of the occurrences of the previous night.

After his thinking, Marlowe sits down to try and crack the code from the notebook he has taken with him. All he can figure out is that the book is an encoded list, probably of customers. There are many entries in the list, at least four hundred. That night, Marlowe returns home full of drink, and falls into a sleep brimming with dreams from the night that has passed.

Chapter 9

The next morning is sunny, unlike any of the other days thus far. Marlowe wakes up thirsty and hung over. He receives a phone call from Bernie Ohls, the D.A.'s chief investigator and the man who told him about General Sternwood. Ohls says that a Buick has been found in the Pacific Ocean with a body inside, apparently after driving off the Lido fishing pier.

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