Eddie Mars stands at the front door, dressed smartly in an all gray suit. He takes his hat off when he sees Carmen. Marlowe sees that Mars is no regular “tough man.” Mars closes the door and steps inside, one manicured hand in his pocket. Mars and Carmen exchange a smile.
Eddie Mars belongs to an elite class of criminal, as illustrated in Marlowe’s appraisal of Mars’s dress sense, as well as the man’s manicure. Mars is not one to get his own hands dirty.
Mars asks if Geiger is home. Marlowe says he and Carmen are business acquaintances who found the door open and stepped inside; they don’t know where Geiger is. Marlowe tries to leave with Carmen, but Mars says he’d like to have a word with Marlowe. Mars adds he has two “boys” outside, as incentive to remain. Carmen runs off to her car and drives away, unfollowed.
The two men in the room instantly assess each other as adversaries. Their instinct leads them to distrust the other, and in Mars’s case, to attempt to intimidate Marlowe. As a woman, Carmen does not pose a threat to Mars, who allows her to leave. Mars focuses on Marlowe as the one worth interrogating, the one likely to have any worthwhile information.
Sighing, Mars says he knows something is wrong and threatens Marlowe to not obstruct him. Mars inspects the room and quickly finds the pool of blood where Geiger had fallen. Mars stands back up with a gun in his hand. Marlowe feigns confused interest.
Marlowe does not let his pretense fall, pretending not to know about Geiger’s death. As the detective does not know how deeply Mars has been involved in the case, he prefers to wait and see what information Mars will give away. Marlowe does not want to play his hand too early and misjudge his opponent.
Sitting down at a desk in the room, Mars suggests calling the police. Marlowe agrees, calling Mars’s bluff. This displeases Mars, who asks Marlowe’s name. The detective responds truthfully and claims he had come with Carmen to talk to Geiger about settling a blackmail dispute. Marlowe asks Mars why he had a key to the house. Mars explains he’s the landlord, and that Geiger is his tenant.
Putting his gun away, Mars asks Marlowe if he has any theories on what happened. Marlowe responds with various scenarios, including one in which Geiger killed a live chicken in the sitting room while preparing for dinner. Mars says he “don’t get” Marlowe’s “game.”
Marlowe successfully confuses Mars, who cannot read the detective. This demonstrates Marlowe’s cool nerves under pressure, and ability to hide what he does not want the other person to see.
Marlowe tells Mars he knows exactly who he is—a well-protected and well-connected gangster who runs a casino 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.
Not only does Marlowe hide what he doesn’t want seen, he also sees through his adversary, as he is more informed than Mars previously realized. Evening the playing field, after Marlowe tells Mars he knows about the high-level racketeer, the detective provides the information that Geiger’s books have been moved. Providing this information freely offers a cautious truce.
Mars calls in his men to check Marlowe. He tells the detective to open the door, pointing a gun at him—Marlowe refuses. Mars opens the door himself and his men search Marlowe, finding he is unarmed. They also find his private investigator’s badge.
Confident that Marlowe is who he says he is, Mars tells him to “talk.” Marlowe doesn’t think the book thief is also the murderer, but likely knows what’s going on. The jumpy blonde at the store is probably involved too, he thinks. Marlowe says he won’t give any more information, as he has a client involved.
Marlowe only tells Mars what the gangster could work out for himself, as the detective states he’s got a client involved. Not only does Marlowe want to protect his client, the detective also wants to be paid for what he finds out. Discovering certain information provides his income, after all.
Mars gets frustrated with the constant back and forth in their conversation. He demands that Marlowe tell him what happened to Geiger because he’s worried the police will get involved, though he knows Marlowe wouldn’t go to the police or they’d be there already. Marlowe says he can’t say anything or he’d have nothing to sell to his client, and asks to leave.
Again, Marlowe acts in self-interest, responding to Mars’s questions defensively as the detective does not fully trust Mars, and he wishes to sell his information to make a living. Mars also notes that Marlowe has not informed the police of what he knows either, presumably for the same reasons.
Marlowe asks Mars how Mars’s missing wife is. Annoyed, Mars tells Marlowe to leave, and not to mention his name in any write up. Marlowe leaves the house unobstructed, and drives away without being tailed.
Antagonizing Mars, Marlowe makes it clear that the two men are not allies. Mars lets Marlowe leave, perhaps because he has no real reason to stop him, doesn’t need more murders in his tenant’s house, or because he still doesn’t yet really know who Marlowe is.