Twenty-four-year-old hero-narrator Frank Chambers wanders around America, nowhere else for a long time. And now, after settling down to work for the Greek, Nick Papadakis, the owner of a gas station and a snack bar not far from Los Angeles, he is sure that he will soon be on the road again. But meeting with the black-haired Cora, the wife of Papadakis, changes his plans. They burn the fire of all-consuming passion.
Cora tells Frank that he loves him and hates her husband. Lovers plot the murder of a Greek, intending to furnish him as an accident in the bathroom. But the light does not go out in time, and Kore is unable to complete the carefully designed operation. The Greek enters the hospital with a trauma to the skull, and although the doctors are surprised by the nature of the injuries, there is no trouble for Cory and Frank.
Frank offers Kore to leave her husband, a column and a snack bar, but Cora does not dare. Then Frank leaves alone, but not far away. Papadakis accidentally meets him in town, where he earns a game of billiards, and persuades to return. The bark pushes Frank to the second attempt to get rid of Paladakis: the Greek wants a child, which makes Koru turn from the heart.
A new plan – with a dramatization of a car crash – is carried out. Papadakis is killed by a wrench, the car with Frank is flying downhill, disheveled Kora stops on the road passing, begging for help.
Frank with broken arms and ribs goes to the hospital. Prosecutors take the case, and the situation of Kor and Frank is very shaky: the interests of the insurance company are affected, and she spares no money for investigations. If it turns out that Papadakis died as a result of a traffic accident, the company will lose ten thousand dollars. Prosecutor Sackett is locked in a bark and Frank with a death grip, and they are about to confess. Under prosecutorial pressure, Frank lodges a complaint against the Koru, accusing her of intending to kill him, otherwise the prosecutor may see a conspiracy between them.
On the advice of the guard, Frank addresses the lawyer Katsu. He promises to help, but at the first hearing he recognizes Cora guilty. She in despair gives written evidence, where she confesses to the murder and also tells about the first failed attempt. However, she denies that she knew about insurance. Katz takes her testimony and starts acting. Soon it turns out that he was not going to substitute clients, but only made a deceptive diversion maneuver, lulling the opponent’s vigilance.
Katz finds out that the Greek had two more insurance policies, and if Cora is found guilty of killing her husband, the other two companies will have a hard time – there is a statement from Chambers about the injuries he received. Insurance companies are forced to negotiate, and the detective acting on the instructions of the first company changes the evidence: there was no intentional murder, only careless driving took place, for which Cora receives a six-month suspended sentence.
Katz is so happy to defeat Sakket’s old rival that he does not even take money from his clients, and they gain not only freedom, but also ten thousand dollars of insurance. The main prize of Katz is the check he issued to the prosecutor for a hundred dollars, which he argued to the lawyer, claiming that Kore did not get out.
But freedom and money do not bring joy. Too fresh memories from Kora and Frank about how they betrayed each other. Too much mud has raised the business of Paladakis.
The connection, however, continues, although the former ecstasy has disappeared. Lyubovniki drink a lot and quarrel... a lot – first of all because of leaving, as Frank suggests, or staying, as Cora insists.
But Cory’s mother falls ill, and she leaves for her in Iowa. In her absence, Frank meets a pretty blond Maj Allen. She suggests Frank to go somewhere far away, but it ends in a vacation in Mexico. The sudden return of Cora, who buried her mother, changes their plans.
There is a certain Kennedy, who previously worked at Katz. He has a statement from Kora, which can still cause them a lot of trouble, and is ready to sell it for twenty-five thousand. But the blackmailer underestimated his “clients” who manage not only to take away his gun, but also to force his accomplices to compromise. So, Kennedy and his friends leave nesolono hlebavshy, and Frank burns the original, copies and negative. He tries to encourage Cora, assuring her that this is over, but she does not share his optimism: “It’s all over, you say? The original, the copies, the negative?” But I’m not done with. I have one million copies, no worse than you burned In the head. “
The danger once again passed by Cora and Frank, but there is no idyll in sight. Bark learns about Maj. Their relationship is on the verge of breaking. Once Frank finds Korah with a suitcase – she wants to leave. There is an explanation from which, among other things, Frank learns that Cora is pregnant. She wrote a note where she tried to explain everything, put it in the cash register, but the departure did not take place. Frank wants Cora to become his lawful wife. She agrees. For the first time in recent months, the past does not frighten them. They think about the future.
Soon, during the sea bath, Kora begins severe pain. There is a real danger of miscarriage. Frank puts her in the car and drives to the hospital. Every minute is worth the weight of gold, and it adds gas. But he can not overtake the truck, which terribly hinders. Then he makes an attempt to go round him on the right, contrary to the rules of the road, and this leads to trouble. The car is in an accident. Bark dies on the spot, Frank is safe and sound.
Prosecutor Sacket gets a great chance to get even with lawyer Katz, and he does not intend to miss it. The lawyer takes from Frank all that he received from the insurance company. He fights like a lion, but all his efforts are futile. A fatal role is played by the same note that Cora left in the drawer of the cash register before her failed departure. There she writes not only about how much she loves Frank – the whole story of Papadakis reappears, and in the most unfavorable light. This is not what matters to Frank. From the very beginning, the judge is against him, and the jury took only five minutes to make the verdict “guilty.”
Frank is sitting on death row and finishing his story.
He thinks about Korah. He does not give rest to the idea that then, in the car, in the last moments before his death, Cora could think that he still decided to kill her. He wants to believe in the rightness of Father McConnell’s priest, who assures him that there is life after death. He just needs to meet with Cora and explain everything to her.
His earthly existence is coming to an end. Justice does not hesitate, and all petitions for pardon are rejected.
The last paragraph of the novel is: “Father McConnell says that prayer helps, if you have read this far, pray for me and for Cora that we should be together, no matter where…”