As well as similarities in the atmosphere there are similarities and differences in the two main characters of the books. Such as they are both good honest detectives doing their unselfish jobs in a corrupt and dirty world. Another example both of the characters, Holmes and Marlowe, find the police irritating, corrupt or incompetent. For instance Holmes tells Watson that he would rather have the help of Toby the tracker dog than the whole London police force. And in the scene where Marlowe is sitting in his car watching the police help the young girls across the road while he is parked illegally. And when he is talking to Ohls, the head of the police Homicide division, and says that he is not married because he does not like policeman’s wives.
Also neither of them are involved in the news paper articles that are published on their cases. In Holmes’ case he lets the police take the credit for his work and also lets them get some of their facts wrong. Marlowe just tries to avoid the police and lets them deduce their own answers and in the end gives them information on the real happenings that are correct. This shows that neither of them are just doing their work because they like the adulation and credit. They do it for unselfish reasons. Holmes does it for the “brain-work” or mental stimulation. Marlowe does it because he is helpful and feels compelled to help others. He finds it self-gratifying. An example of this is where Marlowe gets out of his car in front of General Sternwood’s house and sees the Stained glass widow and says, ‘I would sooner or later have to help him’.
Both of them are also loners. They tend to work alone or they keep to themselves. An example of where this is true is when Marlowe says that he is not married because he does not like policeman’ wives. I think this a very common feature among detectives as well as being more than averagely intelligent. Marlowe works on his own quietly and carefully. He never lets out to much information at once. He comes across as being very conservative. Although he is sexually aware he is still ‘cagey’ but does show genuine concern for others where as Holmes does not. He also does not work alone although he is very careful as well and chooses his words very carefully and since the narrative is not told by Holmes himself we never know precisely what he is thinking.
There are also many differences between Holmes and Marlowe. Many of these are related back to the fact that Marlowe is more realistically intelligent than Holmes who seems in places to be almost superhuman. We see his superhuman abilities when he deduces when he deduces the information from the watch. Also Holmes is extremely observant and notices the ‘minutiae’ whereas where as Marlowe is observant but perhaps more realistically so.
HolmeS is also very cold in that he seems to have no emotions towards anything. As in when Watson noticed that Miss. Morstan is good looking and Holmes said that he did not notice but did think she was helpful in providing evidence. Marlowe is quite cold but he does express some emotion, mainly towards women. Women seem to be on of his few emotional outlets. This shows that he is sexually aware for instance when he says, “They’re swell legs and it’s a pleasure to make their acquaintance”. Holmes does not even seem to show any emotion towards women in any way at all. Marlowe is very tough and streetwise and Holmes is also very brave. This may be due to the fact that they don’t show their emotions. Overall I would say that these two characters are alike although they do have their differences. Also the two books are very similar in their atmospheres but they also have their significant differences.