Eight years ago Moose Malloy and cute little redhead Velma were getting married - until someone framed Malloy for armed robbery. Now his stretch is up and he wants Velma back. PI Philip Marlow meets Malloy one hot day in Hollywood and, out of the generosity of his jaded heart, agrees to help him. Dragged from one smoky bar to another, Marlowe's search for Velma turns up plenty of dangerous gangsters with a nasty habit of shooting first and talking later. And soon what started as a search for a missing person becomes a matter of life and death . . .