The storm has finally hit as Marlowe sits in his flooding car, as rain pours through the vehicle’s unsuitable convertible roof. Marlowe stakes out Geiger’s store. He buys a pint of whiskey to keep him company. Many well-dressed people get out of flashy cars and go into the store as Marlowe watches.
His convertible’s failing roof indicates Marlowe’s state of relative poverty, while rich patrons arrive in impressive cars to rent illegal books. Again, Chandler emphasizes that money does not equal morality. Rather, the city’s tide of immorality sweeps everyone away in its current. The rain flooding through Marlowe’s roof suggests the tide is coming in his direction.
Geiger himself finally appears at 4:00 p.m. A handsome male assistant (later revealed to be Carol Lundgren) comes out of the shop to park Geiger’s car. After an hour, the same boy brings Geiger’s car back round, and Geiger drives off. Marlowe tails him, keeping out of sight with his headlights off. When they arrive at Geiger’s house, Marlowe drives on slightly to avoid suspicion.
This scene adds car tailing techniques to Marlowe’s growing list of expertise. He is shaping up to be the perfect private detective, seeing all but seen by none. This fact suggests that Marlowe must have extensive experience of tailing suspects, in turn suggesting many underhanded activities must take place in this corrupt city.
Marlowe stakes out the house amid the “driving rain” with his whiskey in hand. After some time, in which Marlowe notes the street is very quiet, a woman drives up and enters Geiger’s house. Marlowe searches the newly arrived car and finds Carmen’s registration, before going back to his own car to wait.
Geiger’s large house in a quiet neighborhood again reflects that the rich are not above the city’s moral filth. Carmen’s appearance can only serve to complicate Marlowe’s evening, as the torrential rain indicates that the situation is worsening.
After dark, a bright white flash goes off and a scream comes from the house. Marlowe runs toward the house, although he notes the scream was not one of terror and more like a scream from a psychiatric patient. Just as Marlowe reaches the front door he hears three gun shots go off within the house.
Marlowe likens the bright flash to a “wave of summer lightning,” drawing on the novel’s storm symbolism that indicates rising tension. This crescendo marks a turning point in the novel—the first death.
Marlowe hears running inside the house, as someone flees down some steps out back. Because of the way the house is built into the hill, Marlowe cannot follow the escaping shooter. He hears a car drive away out back, possibly followed by another, though he can’t be certain. The detective then tries to burst through the front door but it doesn’t budge. Instead, he breaks through a window. Two people are in the room. Both ignore him; one is dead.
For the first time in the novel, Marlowe is on the back foot. Caught off guard, he can neither follow the shooter, nor get into the house on first attempt. Even when he enters the crime scene, neither occupant pays him any attention, reflecting the changing tide in Marlowe’s control of the case. In a kill or be killed world, Marlowe suddenly needs to find out who is doing the killing.