flash spent, and the plateholder and negative missing - and a blue indexed notebook with what appears to be Geiger's client list in, but in code. Marlowe drives Carmen - alternative between flirting and semi- consciousness - home in her car, and Vivian's maid looks after her. Marlowe walks back to Geiger's house, and finds that the body is missing. He goes to his own apartment and spends the night drinking and failing to crack to code in Geiger's book.

The next morning there is no mention of Geiger in the paper. Bernie Ohls calls with news that one of the Sternwood's Buicks "is washing about in the surf off Lido fish pier... there's a guy inside it." Marlowe initially thinks it's Regan, but it is in fact Owen Taylor, the Sternwood's chauffeur. Taylor has been "sapped" (hit on the face, possibly with a gun) and the car's "hand throttle" fixed half way down, suggesting foul play rather than suicide or an accident. It also emerges that Taylor has something of a coloured history: a year before, he ran Carmen off to Yuma. Vivian retrieved the errant couple and persuaded the District Attorney not to prosecute him, as he had meant to marry Carmen but she didn't want to. The police released Taylor, and he returned to work for the Sternwoods. It further turns out that Taylor had a prior back in Indiana for an attempted hold-up six years previously.

Marlowe returns to Geiger's store to find a truck being loaded up with boxes of books. He follows the truck to an apartment occupied by Joe Brody. Marlowe then goes to his office, to find Vivian waiting for him. Regan is mentioned in passing, and they discuss Carmen and Taylor. Vivian produces a nude picture of Carmen that has been sent to her. She is being blackmailed for five thousand dollars - "A woman telephoned me, about half an hour after this thing was delivered... The woman said there was a police jam connected with it and I'd better lay it on the line fast, or I'd be talking to my little sister through a wire screen." Vivian refuses to go to the police or tell her father, but says she can get five grand off Eddie Mars, a racketeer who runs an illegal casino at Las Olindas. It also transpires that Eddie Mars' wife ran off with Rusty Regan. Marlowe asks if she thinks Regan is involved in the blackmail. But according to Vivian, "Rusty was no crook. If he had been, it wouldn't have been for nickels. He carried fifteen thousand dollars, in bills... He had it when I married him and he had it when he left me. No - Rusty's not in on any cheap blackmail racket."

Marlowe goes back to Geiger's house and finds Carmen there. She says that Joe Brody killed Geiger. A man turns up at the house. It is Eddie Mars. Carmen runs off. Mars warns Marlowe not to mess with him, and explains that Geiger was his tenant. As Marlowe leaves, he taunts Mars about his wife and Regan.

Marlowe goes to Brody's apartment. Brody at first plays dumb, but then threatens Marlowe with a gun. Marlowe is unfazed - "Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains." The woman from the shop - Agnes - is also there. Marlowe lets on that he has Geiger's book, and makes out that he wants to do some sort of deal. Marlowe accuses Brody of shooting Gieger. Brody denies it. Marlowe says that if Brody hands over the negative and any prints of Carmen, he might be able to persuade Carmen not to say anything about the 'fact' that she say Brody shoot Geiger. Brody complies, and then Carmen turns up. She threatens Brody with a gun and demands her photos. There is a scuffle, with Marlowe ending up in control of the situation. He takes Carmen's gun, refuses to give her the photos, and sends her packing. Marlowe then accuses Brody of the murder of Owen Taylor, which he denies. Marlowe has figured out that, disliking what he was up to with Carmen, Taylor shot Geiger, and then ran off with the negative. Brody was trying to move in on Geiger's racket and was staking out the house. After the shooting, Brody chased after Taylor, sapped him, and took the negative. Brody still denies the murder of Taylor. The door buzzer goes again, and answering it, Brody is shot at close range. The shooter runs off, Marlowe in hot pursuit. He catches him - it is the good-looking kid from Geiger's store - Carol Lundgren - and Marlowe deduces he was also Geiger's homosexual lover who, thinking Brody shot Geiger, was out for revenge: "You must have thought a lot of that queen."

Marlowe takes Lundgren back to Geiger's house where Marlowe finds Geiger's body has returned. Lundgren moved the body to give him time to clear his things out of Geiger's house so the police wouldn't find out about their relationship. Marlowe phones Ohls, and they take Lundgren to the D.A. A cop, Captain

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