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The Big Sleep | Chapter Summaries

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Timeline of Events

  • September mid-1930s

    General Sternwood pays Joe Brody to break up with Carmen.

    Chapter 2
  • One month later

    General Sternwood hires Marlowe to deal with a blackmail attempt involving nude photos of Carmen.

    Chapter 2
  • A few hours later

    Marlowe discovers Geiger, the blackmailer, runs a pornography business from his bookstore.

    Chapter 5
  • That evening

    At Geiger's house Marlowe finds Geiger's dead body and Carmen drugged, naked, and giggling.

    Chapter 6
  • Later that evening

    Marlowe takes Carmen, now dressed but still drugged, home.

    Chapter 7
  • Later that evening

    Marlowe returns to Geiger's house and finds the body missing.

    Chapter 8
  • The next morning

    Police have found a car belonging to General Sternwood, with the body of Owen Taylor inside it.

    Chapter 9
  • That evening

    Marlowe is confronting Brody when Carmen arrives with a gun, and a scuffle follows.

    Chapter 15
  • A little later

    Carol Lundgren, Geiger's lover, arrives, shoots Brody, and runs off.

    Chapter 16
  • Moments later

    Marlowe runs after Lundgren and captures him.

    Chapter 16
  • Two days later

    Marlowe agrees to buy information about the whereabouts of Eddie Mars's wife.

    Chapter 25
  • That evening

    At Harry Jones's office Marlowe discovers Canino has poisoned Jones.

    Chapter 26
  • Later that evening

    When Marlowe gets to Realito, where Mars's wife is hiding, Canino beats him unconscious.

    Chapter 27
  • Late that night

    Mars's wife reveals her story and helps Marlowe escape.

    Chapter 28
  • Later that night

    With the aid of Mars's wife, Marlowe kills Canino.

    Chapter 29
  • Two days later

    General Sternwood hires Marlowe to find Rusty Regan.

    Chapter 30
  • Later that morning

    Carmen lures Marlowe to an abandoned oil field, tries to kill him, and has a seizure.

    Chapter 31
  • A little while later

    Marlowe brings Carmen home and confronts Vivian Regan about Carmen, Rusty Regan, and Eddie Mars.

    Chapter 32
  • Later that morning

    Vivian reveals the details about Carmen's and Mars's involvement in Rusty Regan's death.

    Chapter 32
  • A little while later

    Marlowe makes Vivian Regan agree to get help for Carmen.

    Chapter 32

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 On a mid-October morning detective Philip Marlowe visits the Sternwood house to discuss a case with General Sternwood. M... Read More
Chapter 2 The butler guides Marlowe to the greenhouse where the general is waiting, seated in a wheelchair. The greenhouse is hot,... Read More
Chapter 3 Marlowe meets with Mrs. Regan, perceiving her as "worth a stare" but "trouble." She dresses and moves to show herself of... Read More
Chapter 4 Marlowe visits Geiger's store. From behind a desk a blond woman, radiating sex appeal approaches him. When Marlowe asks ... Read More
Chapter 5 Marlowe goes to a pay phone and tries to call Geiger's store. No one answers. In the directory he finds other bookstores... Read More
Chapter 6 As the rain picks up, Marlowe's car starts to leak. He buys some whiskey and drinks to stay warm while he stakes out Gei... Read More
Chapter 7 Inside Geiger's house Marlowe notices the room he has entered is ornately decorated in an Asian motif and smells of ethe... Read More
Chapter 8 When Marlowe arrives at the Sternwood house, he makes sure the general is asleep and Carmen is attended to. He walks for... Read More
Chapter 9 Marlowe wakes up hung over. He's drinking coffee and reading the newspapers when the district attorney's investigator Oh... Read More
Chapter 10 When Marlowe returns to Geiger's bookstore, he tries to convince the blonde woman working there he has something to sell... Read More
Chapter 11 Vivian Regan is waiting in Marlowe's office. After some brief verbal sparring, Marlowe reveals he knows about Owen Taylo... Read More
Chapter 12 Marlowe drives back to Geiger's house, where he finds Carmen Sternwood outside "looking wild-eyed at [his] car, as if sh... Read More
Chapter 13 The man is Eddie Mars, dressed all in gray, except for black shoes and red diamonds on his tie. His eyes, hair, and eyeb... Read More
Chapter 14 Marlowe goes to the apartment building where Geiger's books were unloaded and rings Joe Brody's doorbell. Brody doesn't ... Read More
Chapter 15 Whoever is at the door keeps buzzing—and irritating Brody, whose face turns "sharp and foxy and mean." He gets a gun out... Read More
Chapter 16 Marlowe examines the window Carmen broke, then her gun. Its engraving reads "Carmen from Owen." He then quizzes Brody ab... Read More
Chapter 17 Carol drives Marlowe to Geiger's house. Marlowe tries to get information, but Carol remains stubborn and nasty, continui... Read More
Chapter 18 Ohls arrives at Geiger's house, reviews the scene, and takes Carol Lundgren away. Marlowe follows Ohls as they drive to ... Read More
Chapter 19 When Marlowe gets home, one of Eddie Mars's men is there to inform him Mars wants to see him. Marlowe says he's too tire... Read More
Chapter 20 Marlowe goes to the Missing Persons Bureau, where he talks over the Sternwood case with Captain Gregory. Marlowe asks hi... Read More
Chapter 21 Marlowe goes to his office. Norris calls to inform Marlowe the general, who is not feeling well, considers the case clos... Read More
Chapter 22 Marlowe leaves through the customers' exit so he can get a look at Mars's club in action. A tired-sounding "Mexican orch... Read More
Chapter 23 Marlowe hears someone exit the club, the steps sounding like a woman's. The masked man pulls a gun and demands the woman... Read More
Chapter 24 When Marlowe gets home, he finds Carmen Sternwood lying on his bed. When she giggles and calls herself "cute," he turns ... Read More
Chapter 25 When Marlowe gets up the next morning, it is raining. The car that has been following him is parked down the block. Afte... Read More
Chapter 26 Later that day—still raining and now dark—Marlowe goes to meet Harry Jones at his office in the Fulwider Building, a sor... Read More
Chapter 27 As soon as Marlowe and Agnes meet, she demands the money. After Marlowe pays, she tells him how she spotted Mars's wife ... Read More
Chapter 28 When Marlowe wakes up, it is still raining. He is handcuffed and tied. The men have left for a while, but there is a wom... Read More
Chapter 29 As Marlowe moves through the darkness, still in handcuffs, he thinks Canino is likely to kill Mars's wife. He makes it b... Read More
Chapter 30 The next day Marlowe visits Captain Gregory at the Missing Persons Bureau. In response to Gregory's questions Marlowe ex... Read More
Chapter 31 As he leaves, Marlowe sees Carmen "looking forlorn and alone" in the garden. She flirts with him again, but he continues... Read More
Chapter 32 The maid shows Marlowe to the upstairs sitting room. After a while Vivian comes in. She seems nervous and blames Marlowe... Read More
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