The Big Sleep

Racket/Racketeer Term Analysis

Eddie Mars is the primary example of a “racketeer” in The Big Sleep. Described as “manicured” and “well-dressed,” Mars runs a casino—his highly profitable “racket.” Racketeers are a rung, or many, above lowly grifters in the social ladder of L.A.’s criminal underworld—yet they must protect their business from these aspirational grifters. Grifter Joe Brody successfully steals Geiger’s racket, an illegal pornography outlet, from him, with help from inside woman Agnes Lozelle. However, Brody ends up dead due to the many moving parts of Geiger’s world—Geiger is himself murdered by Owen Taylor, and Geiger’s lover Carol Lundgren mistakenly blames Brody, killing him in revenge. Brody’s brief hold on his racket (not to mention Geiger’s loss of his racket and his murder) show those at the top require sufficient wealth and protection to stay at the top.

Racket/Racketeer Quotes in The Big Sleep

The The Big Sleep quotes below are all either spoken by Racket/Racketeer or refer to Racket/Racketeer. For each quote, you can also see the other terms and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Big Sleep published in 1939.
Chapter 13 Quotes

His eyes went narrow. The veneer had flaked off him, leaving a well-dressed hard boy with a Luger.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Eddie Mars
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 71
Explanation and Analysis:
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I know you, Mr. Mars. The Cypress Club at Las Olindas. Flash gambling for flash people. The local law in your pocket and a wellgreased line into L.A. In other words, protection.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Eddie Mars, Arthur Gwynn Geiger
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 14 Quotes

“What?” the blonde yelped. “You sit there and try to tell us Mr. Geiger ran that kind of business right down on the main drag? You’re nuts!” I leered at her politely. “Sure I do. Everybody knows the racket exists. Hollywood's made to order for it. If a thing like that has to exist, then right out on the street is where all practical coppers want it to exist. For the same reason they favor red light districts. They know where to flush the game when they want to.”

Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 21 Quotes

Eddie Mars would have been very unlikely to involve himself in a double murder just because another man had gone to town with the blonde he was not even living with … If there had been a lot of money involved, that would be different. But fifteen grand wouldn't be a lot of money to Eddie Mars. He was no two-bit chiseler like Brody.

Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 25 Quotes

She’s a grifter, shamus. I’m a grifter. We’re all grifters. So we sell each other out for a nickel.

Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 28 Quotes

Once outside the law you’re all the way outside. You think he’s just a gambler. I think he’s a pornographer, a blackmailer, a hot car broker, a killer by remote control, and a suborner of crooked cops. He’s whatever looks good to him, whatever has the cabbage pinned to it. Don’t try to sell me on any high-souled racketeers. They don’t come in that pattern.

Related Characters: Philip Marlowe (speaker), Eddie Mars, Mona Mars
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 30 Quotes

Being a copper I like to see the law win. I'd like to see the flashy well-dressed mugs like Eddie Mars spoiling their manicures in the rock quarry at Folsom, alongside of the poor little slum-bred hard guys that got knocked over on their first caper and never had a break since. That’s what I’d like. You and me both lived too long to think I’m likely to see it happen. Not in this town, not in any town half this size, in any part of this wide, green and beautiful U.S.A. We just don’t run our country that way.

Related Characters: Captain Al Gregory (speaker), Philip Marlowe, Eddie Mars, Mona Mars
Related Symbols: Money
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
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Racket/Racketeer Term Timeline in The Big Sleep

The timeline below shows where the term Racket/Racketeer appears in The Big Sleep. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...and oversees Geiger. Mars says he thinks someone has gone for Geiger and his pornography racket. Marlowe agrees, especially as the books from Geiger’s store have been moved. (full context)
Chapter 14
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...explains the list of clients in the notebook is coded; with hundreds of names, the racket must be profitable—enough to kill Geiger over. Agnes is “outraged,” or at least pretends to... (full context)
Chapter 16
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...admits he had recently been tailing Geiger to see who else was in on his racket. Brody was parked at the back of Geiger’s house that night, and saw a Buick... (full context)
Chapter 18
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...later tailed the books to Joe Brody, and assumed Brody killed Geiger to get his racket. (full context)
Chapter 19
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...picks the phone up and Eddie Mars asks the detective if he has kept the racketeer’s name out of his report to the police, who are now at Geiger’s house. Marlowe... (full context)
Chapter 21
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...the detective that Mrs. Regan is in the casino right then, winning on roulette. The racketeer offers Marlowe money for keeping his name out of his statement to the police, which... (full context)
Chapter 28
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
...Eddie killed Rusty. She asserts that Eddie isn’t like that. Marlowe accuses her of liking racketeers. She tries to defend Eddie, but Marlowe says that Eddie’s “all the way outside” the... (full context)
Chapter 30
The Corruption of Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Status, and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Cynicism and Survival Theme Icon
...he hadn’t realized that Canino was a killer, and claimed he hadn’t heard about Geiger’s racket(full context)