Study Guide

The Big Sleep Chapter 9

By Raymond Chandler

Chapter 9

  • The next morning is bright and sunny. Marlowe wakes up with a massive hangover. 
  • The phone rings: it's Bernie Ohls, the D.A.s chief investigator. Ohls informs Marlowe that a Buick was found in the ocean with a body inside, apparently after driving off the Lido fishing pier.
  • At Lido, the police claim that the evidence suggests the accident happened around 10 p.m. last night. It is unclear whether the death is suicide or murder.
  • The hand throttle of the car is set halfway down and the left side of the man's head has been smashed in. Looks like murder to us. But then again, there are no swerve marks on the pier, which makes it appear more like a suicide.
  • When the body is recovered, Marlowe recognizes it as the Sternwoods' chauffeur, Owen Taylor. Not surprisingly, Taylor had a police record: he had attempted to take Carmen away with him to Yuma, Arizona, but Vivian had tracked them down and placed Taylor in jail. 
  • Ohls also tells Marlowe that Taylor wanted to marry Carmen, but Vivian was against it. When Taylor got out of jail, the family still rehired him.
  • Ohls heads to the Sternwood mansion to inform the family about Taylor's death, and Marlowe goes back to Geiger's store for more questioning.