This novel puts Marlowe in the position of turning against his client. We are at the beginning of 1952 (some 18 months after the parting of Marlowe and Linda Loring in The Long Goodbye).
An unknown client hires Marlowe (via intermediaries) to follow a woman traveling under the name Eleanor King (whose real name is Betty Mayfield). Marlowe traces Mayfield to the small coastal resort town of Esmeralda in California, where he is given the runaround by practically everyone. During her train ride west, Mayfield was recognized by a man who then seeks to blackmail her, for reasons disclosed at the end of the novel. While Marlowe is poking around Esmeralda, the blackmailer is found dead on Mayfield's hotel room balcony. She panics and calls Marlowe for help.
Copyright: Public Domain in Canada