Written in 1939, this is the first of the Philip Marlowe PI, cynical tough guy, novels. This is noir, beautifully written and realised, with everything you could possibly expect from this classic book. When we meet Marlowe he is on his way to the 'Sternwood Place' to meet four million dollars - neat, clean, shaved and sober, as befits visiting a millionaire. Gerneral Sternwood is paralysed in both his legs, a widower with two wayward daughters and a missing son in law. He is being blackmailed and wants Marlowe to help.
As far the plot goes, it is confusing and involved. There are guns, gangsters and girls, including Sternwood's two daughters, the spoiled and ruthless Vivian and the childish Carmen. Vivian has a string of broken marriages, her last to Rusty Regan rumoured to have ended with her husband skipping with Eddie Mars, a local hard man, wife. Both Carmen and Vivian seem to mix with the wrong people, but are they simply wild or dangerous? Along the way there is lots of action and wise cracks, as Marlowe battles his way to the truth. As so many characters have been based on Philip Marlowe, it is interesting to read the original and judge for yourself. This is the basis for a whole genre of writing and fascinating to read, as well as being an enjoyable story.