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Editorial Reviews. Review. "Raymond Chandler is a master." --"The New York Times" " " [Chandler] wrote as if pain hurt and life mattered. --"The New Yorker. The Big Sleep introduces one of the finest crime detectives in literary history, All our eBooks are FREE to download, but first you must sign in or create an. The iconic first novel from crime fiction master Raymond Chandler, featuring Philip download the Ebook: The Big Sleep; Farewell, My Lovely; The High Window.
Her hair was a fine tawny wave cut much shorter than the current fashion of pageboy tresses curled in at the bottom. Her eyes were slate-gray, and had almost no expression when they looked at me. She came over near me and smiled with her mouth and she had little sharp predatory teeth, as white as fresh orange pith and as shiny as porcelain. They glistened between her thin too taut lips. Her eyes rounded. She was puzzled. She was thinking.
I could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother to her. Then she lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theater curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air. It was a curiously shaped thumb, thin and narrow like an extra finger, with no curve in the first joint. She bit it and sucked it slowly, turning it around in her mouth like a baby with a comforter.
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler 4. The camera was there all right, set inside it, but there was no plateholder in the camera. I looked around on the floor, thinking he might have got it out before he was shot. No plateholder. I took hold of his limp chilling hand and rolled him a little.
I didn't like this development. I went into a hall at the back of the room and investigated the house. There was a bathroom on the right and a locked door, a kitchen at the back.
The kitchen window had been jimmied. The screen was gone and the place where the hook had pulled out showed on the sill. The back door was unlocked.
I left it unlocked and looked into a bedroom on the left side of the hall. It was neat, fussy, womanish. The bed had a flounced cover.
THE BIG SLEEP
There was perfume on the triple-mirrored dressing table, beside a handkerchief, some loose money, a man's brushes, a keyholder. A man's clothes were in the closet and a man's slippers under the flounced edge of the bed cover. Geiger's room. I took the keyholder back to the living room and went through the desk. There was a locked steel box in the deep drawer. I used one of the keys on it. There was nothing in it but a blue leather book with an index and a lot of writing in code, in the same slanting printing that had written to General Sternwood.
I put the notebook in my pocket, wiped the steel box where I had touched it, locked the desk up, pocketed the keys, turned the gas logs off in the fireplace, wrapped myself in my coat and tried to rouse Miss Sternwood. It couldn't be done. I crammed her vagabond hat on her head and swathed her in her coat and carried her out to her car.
I went back and put all the lights out and shut the front door, dug her keys out of her bag and started the Packard. We went off down the hill without lights. It was less than ten minutes' drive to Alta Brea Crescent. Carmen spent them snoring and breathing ether in my face. I couldn't keep her head off my shoulder. It was all I could do to keep it out of my lap. There was dim light behind narrow leaded panes in the side door of the Sternwood mansion.
I stopped the Packard under the porte-cochere and emptied my pockets out on the seat. The girl snored in the corner, her hat tilted rakishly over her nose, her hands hanging limp in the folds of the raincoat. I got out and rang the bell. Steps came slowly, as if from a long dreary distance. The door opened and the straight, silvery butler looked out at me. The light from the hall made a halo of his hair. He said: His eyes came back to look at my eyes.
The job needs the woman's touch. Take a look in the car and you'll see why. He smiled then. He gave me a duck of his head and I turned and walked down the driveway and out of the gates. Ten blocks of that, winding down curved rain-swept streets, under the steady drip of trees, past lighted windows in big houses in ghostly enormous grounds, vague clusters of eaves and gables and lighted windows high on the hillside, remote and inaccessible, like witch houses in a forest.
I came out at a service station glaring with wasted light, where a bored attendant in a white cap and a dark blue windbreaker sat hunched on a stool, inside the steamed glass, reading a paper. I started in, then kept going. I was as wet as I could get already. And on a night like that you can grow a beard waiting for a taxi. And taxi drivers remember. I made it back to Geiger's house in something over half an hour of nimble walking. There was nobody there, no car on the street except my own car in front of the next house.
It looked as dismal as a lost dog. I dug my bottle of rye out of it and poured half of what was left down my throat and got inside to light a cigarette. I smoked half of it, threw it away, got out again and went down to Geiger's. I unlocked the door and stepped into the still warm darkness and stood there, dripping quietly on the floor and listening to the rain.
I groped to a lamp and lit it. The first thing I noticed was that a couple of strips of embroidered silk were gone from the wall. I hadn't counted them, but the spaces of brown plaster stood out naked and obvious.
I went a little farther and put another lamp on. I looked at the totem pole. At its foot, beyond the margin of the Chinese rug, on the bare floor another rug had been spread.
It hadn't been there before. Geiger's body had. Geiger's body was gone. That froze me. I pulled my lips back against my teeth and leered at the glass eye in the totem pole. I went through the house again.
Everything was exactly as it had been. Geiger wasn't in his flounced bed or under it or in his closet. He wasn't in the kitchen or the bathroom. That left the locked door on the right of the hall. One of Geiger's keys fitted the lock. The room inside was interesting, but Geiger wasn't in it.
It was interesting because it was so different from Geiger's room. It was a hard bare masculine bedroom with a polished wood floor, a couple of small throw rugs in an Indian design, two straight chairs, a bureau in dark grained wood with a man's toilet set and two black candles in foot-high brass candlesticks. The bed was narrow and looked hard and had a maroon batik cover.
The room felt cold.
I locked it up again, wiped the knob off with my handkerchief, and went back to the totem pole. I knelt down and squinted along the nap of the rug to the front door. I thought I could see two parallel grooves pointing that way, as though heels had dragged. Whoever had done it had meant business.
Dead men are heavier than broken hearts. It wasn't the law. They would have been there still, just about getting warmed up with their pieces of string and chalk and their cameras and dusting powders and their nickel cigars. They would have been very much there. It wasn't the killer; He had left too fast. He must have seen the girl.
He couldn't be sure she was too batty to see him. He would be on his way to distant places. I couldn't guess the answer, but it was all right with me if somebody wanted Geiger missing instead of just murdered. It gave me a chance to find out if I could tell it leaving Carmen Sternwood out.
I locked up again, choked my car to life and rode off home to a shower, dry clothes and a late dinner. After that I sat around in the apartment and drank too much hot toddy trying to crack the code in Geiger's blue indexed notebook. All I could be sure of was that it was a list of names and addresses, probably of the customers. There were over four hundred of them. That made it a nice racket, not to mention any blackmail angles, and there were probably plenty of those.
Any name on the list might be a prospect as the killer. I didn't envy the police their job when it was handed to them.
I went to bed full of whiskey and frustration and dreamed about a man in a bloody Chinese coat who chased a naked girl with long jade earrings while I ran after them and tried to take a photograph with an empty camera. The next morning was bright, clear and sunny. I woke up with a motorman's glove in my mouth, drank two cups of coffee and went through the morning papers. I didn't find any reference to Mr. Arthur Gwynn Geiger in either of them.
I was shaking the wrinkles out of my damp suit when the phone rang. It was Bernie Ohls, the D. He sounded like a man who had slept well and didn't owe too much money. A big Buick belonging to one of them is washing about in the surf off Lido fish pier. Oh, I almost forgot. There's a guy inside it. Oh, you mean the ex-legger the eldest girl picked up and went and married. I never saw him. What would he be doing down there? Shaved, dressed and lightly breakfasted I was at the Hall of Justice in less than an hour.
I rode up to the seventh floor and went along to the group of small offices used by the D. Ohls' was no larger than the others, but he had it to himself. There was nothing on his desk but a blotter, a cheap pen set, his hat and one of his feet. He was a medium-sized blondish man with stiff white eyebrows, calm eyes and well-kept teeth.
He looked like anybody you would pass on the street. I happened to know he had killed nine men—three of them when he was covered, or somebody thought he was. He stood up and pocketed a flat tin of toy cigars called Entractes, jiggled the one in his mouth up and down and looked at me carefully along his nose, with his head thrown back.
Regan's a big guy, as tall as you and a shade heavier. This is a young kid. I guess you thought that was a secret. No hard feelings. He fixed the lock on his door and we went down to the official parking lot and got into a small blue sedan. We drove out Sunset, using the siren once in a while to beat a signal. It was a crisp morning, with just enough snap in the air to make life seem simple and sweet, if you didn't have too much on your mind.
I had. It was thirty miles to Lido on the coast highway, the first ten of them through traffic. Ohls made the run in three quarters of an hour. At the end of that time we skidded to a stop in front of a faded stucco arch and I took my feet out of the floorboards and we got out. A long pier railed with white two-by-fours stretched seaward from the arch. A knot of people leaned out at the far end and a motorcycle officer stood under the arch keeping another group of people from going out on the pier.
Cars were parked on both sides of the highway, the usual ghouls, of both sexes. Ohls showed the motorcycle officer his badge and we went out on the pier, into a loud fish smell which one night's hard rain hadn't even dented. A low black barge with a wheelhouse like a tug's was crouched against the pilings at the end of the pier. Something that glistened in the morning sunlight was on its deck, with hoist chains still around it, a large black and chromium car.
The arm of the hoist had been swung back into position and lowered to deck level. Men stood around the car. We went down slippery steps to the deck.
Ohls said hello to a deputy in green khaki and a man in plain clothes.
The barge crew of three men leaned against the front of the wheelhouse and chewed tobacco. One of them was rubbing at his wet hair with a dirty bath-towel. That would be the man who had gone down into the water to put the chains on.
We looked the car over. The front bumper was bent, one headlight smashed, the other bent up but the glass still unbroken.
The radiator shell had a big dent in it, and the paint and nickel were scratched up all over the car. The upholstery was sodden and black. None of the tires seemed to be damaged. The driver was still draped around the steering post with his head at an unnatural angle to his shoulders. He was a slim dark-haired kid who had been good-looking not so long ago. Now his face was bluish white and his eyes were a faint dull gleam under the lowered lids and his open mouth had sand in it.
On the left side of his forehead there was a dull bruise that stood out against the whiteness of the skin. Ohls backed away, made a noise in his throat and put a match to his little cigar. The uniformed man pointed up at the rubbernecks on the end of the pier. One of them was fingering a place where the white two-by-fours had been broken through in a wide space.
The splintered wood showed yellow and clean, like fresh-cut pine. Must have hit pretty hard. The rain stopped early down here, around nine p. The broken wood's dry inside. That puts it after the rain stopped.
She fell in plenty of water not to be banged up worse, not more than half tide or she'd have drifted farther, and not more than half tide going out or she'd have crowded the piles. That makes it around ten last night. Maybe nine-thirty, not earlier. She shows under the water when the boys come down to fish this morning, so we get the barge to hoist her out and we find the dead guy. The plainclothesman scuffed at the deck with the toe of his shoe.
Ohls looked sideways along his eyes at me, and twitched his little cigar like a cigarette. The man who had been toweling his head went over to the rail and cleared his throat in a loud hawk that made everybody look at him. The uniformed man said: Showing off all alone in the rain. Drunks will do anything. Ask me and I'll call it murder.
The man with the towel looked flattered. He grinned. None of my business, but you ask me, I say suicide. First off the guy plowed an awful straight furrow down that pier.
You can read his tread marks all the way nearly. That puts it after the rain like the Sheriff said. Then he hit the pier hard and clean or he don't go through and land right side up.
More likely turned over a couple of times. So he had plenty of speed and hit the rail square. That's more than half-throttle. He could have done that with his hand falling and he could have hurt his head falling too. Ohls said: Frisked him? The deputy looked at me, then at the crew against the wheelhouse. A small man with glasses and a tired face and a black bag came down the steps from the pier. He picked out a fairly clean spot on the deck and put the bag down.
Then he took his hat off and rubbed the back of his neck and stared out to sea, as if he didn't know where he was or what he had come for. Dove off the pier last night. Around nine to ten. That's all we know. The small man looked in at the dead man morosely. He fingered the head, peered at the bruise on the temple, moved the head around with both hands, felt the man's ribs.
He lifted a lax dead hand and stared at the fingernails. He let it fall and watched it fall. He stepped back and opened his bag and took out a printed pad of D. Which means he's due to start getting stiff pretty quick now he's out in the air. Better get him out of the car before he does. You won't like doing it after. Ohls looked at him sharply and took the little cigar out of his mouth and looked at that sharply. A coroner's man that can't guess within five minutes has me beat.
The little man grinned sourly and put his pad in his bag and clipped his pencil back on his vest. But not within five minutes. The little man looked at the bruise again.
That blow came from something covered. And it had already bled subcutaneously while he was alive. The little M. An ambulance was backing into position outside the stucco arch. Ohls looked at me and said: Hardly worth the ride, was it? We went back along the pier and got into Ohls' sedan again. He wrestled it around on the highway and drove back towards town along a three-lane highway washed clean by the rain, past low rolling hills of yellow-white sand terraced with pink moss.
Seaward a few gulls wheeled and swooped over something in the surf and far out a white yacht looked as if it was hanging in the sky. How do I know?
Funny about that. About a year or so back we had him in the cooler on a Mann Act rap. It seems he run Sternwood's hotcha daughter, the young one, off to Yuma. The sister ran after them and brought them back and had Owen heaved into the icebox. Then next day she comes down to the D. She says the kid meant to marry her sister and wanted to, only the sister can't see it. All she wanted was to kick a few high ones off the bar and have herself a party. So we let the kid go and then darned if they don't have him come back to work.
And a little later we get the routine report on his prints from Washington, and he's got a prior back in Indiana, attempted hold-up six years ago. He got off with a six months in the county jail, the very one Dillinger bust out of.
We hand that to the Sternwoods and they keep him on just the same. What do you think of that? I scowled. I'm not looking for Regan. Regan hasn't bothered anybody that I know of.
For the rest of the drive back to town he hardly spoke. I ate lunch at a counter and looked at an afternoon paper and couldn't find anything about Geiger in it. The lean black-eyed credit jeweler was standing in his entrance in the same position as the afternoon before. He gave me the same knowing look as I turned in.
The store looked just the same. The same lamp glowed on the small desk in the corner and the same ash blonde in the same black suede-like dress got up from behind it and came towards me with the same tentative smile on her face. Her silver nails twitched at her side. There was an overtone of strain in her smile. It wasn't a smile at all. It was a grimace. She just thought it was a smile. I took my dark glasses off and tapped them delicately on the inside of my left wrist. If you can weigh a hundred and ninety pounds and look like a fairy, I was doing my best.
I've got something he'll want. Something he's wanted for a long time. The silver fingernails touched the blond hair over one small jet-buttoned ear. I think he'll be here tomorrow. Her eyes narrowed until they were a faint greenish glitter, like a forest pool far back in the shadow of trees. Her fingers clawed at her palm. She stared at me and chopped off a breath.
I thought she was going to fall on her nose. Her whole body shivered and her face fell apart like a bride's pie crust. She put it together again slowly, as if lifting a great weight, by sheer will power. The smile came back, with a couple of comers badly bent.
He's out of town. That—wouldn't be any use. Can't you—come in—tomorrow?
I had my mouth open to say something when the partition door opened a foot. The tall dark handsome boy in the jerkin looked out, pale-faced and tight-lipped, saw me, shut the door quickly again, but not before I had seen on the floor behind him a lot of wooden boxes lined with newspapers and packed loosely with books.
A man in very new overalls was fussing with them. Some of Geiger's stock was being moved out. When the door shut I put my dark glasses on again and touched my hat. I'd like to give you a card, but you know how it is. I know how it is. I went out of the store and west on the boulevard to the corner and north on the street to the alley which ran behind the stores. A small black truck with wire sides and no lettering on it was backed up to Geiger's place.
The man in the very new overalls was just heaving a box up on the tailboard. I went back to the boulevard and along the block next to Geiger's and found a taxi standing at a fireplug.
A fresh-faced kid was reading a horror magazine behind the wheel. I leaned in and showed him a dollar: We went around the block and pulled up across from Geiger's alley, beside another fireplug.
There were about a dozen boxes on the truck when the man in overalls closed the screened doors and hooked the tailboard up and got in behind the wheel. The man in overalls gunned his motor, shot a glance up and down the alley and ran away fast in the other direction. He turned left out of the alley. We did the same. I caught a glimpse of the truck turning east on Franklin and told my driver to close in a little. He didn't or couldn't do it. I saw the truck two blocks away when we got to Franklin.
We had it in sight to Vine and across Vine and all the way to Western. We saw it twice after Western. There was a lot of traffic and the fresh-faced kid tailed from too far back. I was telling him about that without mincing words when the truck, now far ahead, turned north again.
The street at which it turned was called Brittany Place. When we got to Brittany Place the truck had vanished. The fresh-faced kid made comforting sounds at me through the panel and we went up the hill at four miles an hour looking for the truck behind bushes. Two blocks up, Brittany Place swung to the east and met Randall Place in a tongue of land on which there was a white apartment house with its front on Randall Place and its basement garage opening on Brittany.
We were going past that and the fresh-faced kid was telling me the truck couldn't be far away when I looked through the arched entrance of the garage and saw it back in the dimness with its rear doors open again.
We went around to the front of the apartment house and I got out. There was nobody in the lobby, no switchboard. A wooden desk was pushed back against the wall beside a panel of gilt mailboxes. I looked the names over. A man named Joseph Brody had Apartment A man named Joe Brody had received five thousand dollars from General Sternwood to stop playing with Carmen and find some other little girl to play with. It could be the same Joe Brody. I felt like giving odds on it.
I went around an elbow of wall to the foot of tiled stairs and the shaft of the automatic elevator. The top of the elevator was level with the floor. There was a door beside the shaft lettered "Garage. The automatic elevator was propped Open and the man in new overalls was grunting hard as he stacked heavy boxes in it.
I stood beside him and lit a cigarette and watched him. He d1dn't like my watching him. After a while I said: She's only tested for half a ton. Where's the stuff going? He glared at me with pale white rimmed eyes. He got into the elevator with six boxes and shut the doors. I went back up the steps to the lobby and out to the street and the cab took me downtown again to my office building.
I gave the fresh-faced kid too much money and he gave me a dog-eared business card which for once I didn't drop into the majolica jar of sand beside the elevator bank. I had a room and a half on the seventh floor at the back. The half-room was an office split in two to make reception rooms.
Mine had my name on it and nothing else, and that only on the reception room. I always left this unlocked, in case I had a client, and the client cared to sit down and wait.
She wore brownish speckled tweeds, a mannish shirt and tie, hand-carved walking shoes. Her stockings were just as sheer as the day before, but she wasn't showing as much of her legs. Her black hair was glossy under a brown Robin Hood hat that might have cost fifty dollars and looked as if you could have made it with one hand out of a desk blotter.
She looked a little pale and strained, but she looked like a girl who could function under a strain. I unlocked the communicating door and held it for her. We went into the rest of my suite, which contained a rust-red carpet, not very young, five green filing cases, three of them full of California climate, an advertising calendar showing the Quints rolling around on a sky-blue floor, in pink dresses, with seal-brown hair and sharp black eyes as large as mammoth prunes.
There were three near-walnut chairs, the usual desk with the usual blotter, pen set, ashtray and telephone, and the usual squeaky swivel chair behind it. I went over to the mail slot and picked up six envelopes, two letters and four pieces of advertising matter.
I hung my hat on the telephone and sat down. If you have a front, you're making money—or expect to. She picked a cigarette out of a French enamel case, lit it with a pocket lighter, dropped case and lighter back into the bag and left the bag open. I've been trying to get you on the phone all morning. Here and at your apartment. He thought I might know something about it. But he knew much more than I did.
He knew Owen wanted to marry your sister—once. She puffed silently at her cigarette and considered me with steady black eyes. We don't find much of that in our circle. She shrugged. She said negligently: That's all a police record means in this rotten crime-ridden country. She peeled her right glove off and bit her index finger at the first joint, looking at me with steady eyes.
Dashiell Hammett. Red Harvest. The Thin Man. The Dain Curse. Philip K. The Maltese Falcon. Annelie Wendeberg. The Other Side of Silence. Philip Kerr. Vincent Starrett. A Bullet for Cinderella. John D. Friedrich Nietzsche. James Ellroy.
Jamie Lee Scott. Buffalo Jump. Howard Shrier. A Hero of France. Alan Furst. Avenue of Mysteries. John Irving. Mikhail Bulgakov. Undermajordomo Minor. Patrick deWitt. Even Dogs in the Wild.
Ian Rankin. The Crossing. Michael Connelly.
Anthony Horowitz. Men Without Women. Haruki Murakami. The Lady from Zagreb. Blood on Snow. Jo Nesbo. The Water Knife. Paolo Bacigalupi. Razor Girl. Carl Hiaasen. Jay Lake. Trigger Mortis. Shout at the Devil. Wilbur Smith. The Future Is History. Masha Gessen. Louis L'Amour. Dan Vyleta.
The Hanging Girl. Jussi Adler-Olsen. Make Me with bonus short story Small Wars. Lee Child. The Black-Eyed Blonde. Benjamin Black. The Burning Room. Ralph Waldo Emerson. Saints of the Shadow Bible. The Buried Giant. Kazuo Ishiguro. Us Conductors:We were going past that and the fresh-faced kid was telling me the truck couldn't be far away when I looked through the arched entrance of the garage and saw it back in the dimness with its rear doors open again.
The Big Sleep
Geiger can collect on these notes, unless you can show fraud. She looked as if, in her mind, she was doing something very important and making a fine job of it. Her knuckles were white. The review must be at least 50 characters long. The faint smile pulled at the shadowed comers of his mouth. A man's clothes were in the closet and a man's slippers under the flounced edge of the bed cover.
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