Spade & Archer: The prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon."
by Joe Gores
I have to admit that I haven't ready Hammett's work in many, many years. I read the Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man when I was in my 20s and exploring the world of crime and detective novels seriously for the first time. I recall enjoying them, but wasn't moved to read any of Hammett's other work (for the record I have Red Harvest, The Glass Key and The Dain Curse all with arms reach as I type this).
At any rate, this book is a prequel (a word that too often rhymes with MONEY) to the Falcon. It is well written, fast paced, and a fun slice of classic Detective fiction that will and should sate readers looking for more Sam Spade. The book is structured in three acts, each one a mystery partly built on the previous act, and each one showing us the development of Sam Spade into the tough guy we all have come to know from the book and the movie versions of The Maltese Falcon. We see Spade start his agency, bring on staff and interact with the police. We see him develop long lasting relationships and connections. The crimes that he works on are your typical Detective jobs; missing persons, dock side corruption and lost items. Along the way we also get several nods to Hammett's other work, the appearance of names that might be familiar to some, and locals that already have their built in cashe'. The writing style is sparse and terse, with quips and attitude, along with a wink and a nod. Overall I enjoyed the book, and look forward to the true test of it's power, reading The Maltese Falcon to see how this book flows into it... or not.