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The Big Sleep

Raymond Chandler

Chapters 19–21

Chapters 16–18

Chapters 19–21, page 2

page 1 of 3

Chapter 19

Someone from Eddie Mars's place comes around to see Marlowe, telling the detective that Mars wants to see him. Marlowe refuses to go. He later receives a call from Mars, who tells Marlowe not to tell the police anything about him. As a reward for not telling the police anything, Mars is willing to give Marlowe protection, as well as information that may help Marlowe find Rusty Regan. Although Marlowe claims not to be looking for Regan, he tells Mars that he might go down and see him sometime.

Then Marlowe calls the Sternwood house and gives the butler a message to pass on to Vivian: he has the pictures of Carmen and everything is alright. Marlowe's phone continues to ring incessantly all through the night, but he refuses to pick it up.

Marlowe reads the newspaper accounts of Geiger's murder, which differ substantially from the way the events really occurred. They report, for example, that Owen Taylor definitely committed suicide, and do not link him at all with Geiger's slaying. The papers do not give any credit to Marlowe or Ohls, instead crediting Captain Cronjager for solving the murders himself.

Chapter 20

Marlowe goes to see Captain Gregory of the Missing Persons Bureau. After proving that he knows the D.A., Marlowe asks the Captain for information about Regan. He is trying to found out whether the Missing Persons Bureau is working on Regan's case. Marlowe claims that he is interested because he wants to make sure Regan was not involved in blackmail.

Captain Gregory tells Marlowe that Regan disappeared on September 16 and that his car was found in a private garage four days later. They do not know who placed the car there, as the car is completely devoid of fingerprints. Furthermore, the Captain confirms what Marlow already knows about Regan having apparently left with Mars's wife. The Captain also adds that Regan always carried $15,000 in his pockets. He shows Marlowe a photograph of Regan, who does not, according to Marlowe, have the "face of a tough guy" but also does not have the "face of a man who could be pushed around much by anybody."

Captain Gregory eliminates the possibility that Mars murdered Regan out of jealousy, his reasoning being that such an act would have been too obvious, considering the fact that Mars's wife left with Regan. The Captain contends that Regan and Mona Mars probably left in Mona's wife's car. The Missing Persons Bureau does not have much evidence and, therefore, not much of a case. The Captain says the best thing to do is to wait until Regan and Mrs. Mars run out of money and leave a traceable mark somewhere. He claims that it will probably take a while to find Regan.

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