The Big Sleep
How we cite our quotes:
I was everything a well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars. (1.1)
From the very first paragraph of The Big Sleep, we know that money is going to play a huge role. Even though we don't know much about Marlowe yet, we know that he's a hard man to budge. And yet money influences his actions here, changing the way he would normally dress.
"It may cost you a little money, besides what you pay me. And of course it won't get you anything. Sugaring them never does. You're already listed on their book of nice names." (2.63)
Marlowe explains to the General that it's possible to get Geiger off his back, but that it may cost some dough. Yep, that sounds about right. In the gritty world of 1930s L.A., money will get you pretty far. In fact, it seems like the only thing that will get you anywhere.
On this lower level faint and far off I could just barely see some of the old wooden derricks of the oilfield from which the Sternwoods had made their money. (3.42)
The oilfields represent the corrupting power of money. Did the Sternwoods have to get their hands dirty to get so wealthy? Is it possible to acquire that much money honestly?