This is quintessential "noire" detective fiction. Chandler pretty much developed the genre to its apex. The Big Sleep
is the first of his Philip Marlowe novels. It was later turned into one awesome movie staring Bogart and Bacall, which is one of my all-time favorites (I'm sure I've got it around somewhere...can't wait for another gander).
I don't see a lot of point in rehashing the plot. Marlowe is a private detective who is hired, ostensibly, to protect a rich man (who has two wild daughters) from blackmail. So, there's lots of killing, driving around in the rain, hot women trying out their come-hither looks on whomever seems to have a few extra nickels, drugs, corrupt cops, etc. The previous Chandler book I read (Farewell, My Lovely
) was amazingly racist. This one not so much. Rather it engaged in some virulent homophobia. In some ways, it seems, we have improved as a society. In terms of guns, corruption, drugs, punks, floozies, etc., not so much.
With luck, I'll find some other Chandler books on kindle that I can snag from the library, although I fear their selection is rather limited.