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Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon    by Joe Gores order for
Spade & Archer
by Joe Gores
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon by Joe Gores gives the reader the low-down on what made Sam Spade who he was. 'Straight talk, hard questions, no favors and no way for anyone to get beneath the protective shell that he wears like a second skin.' That's Sam Spade.

As readers, we meet him before he gets drawn into the case of the Maltese Falcon. I picture him as Humphrey Bogart who portrayed Spade in the movie version of the book. The Maltese Falcon was filmed in 1941 by Warner Bros. It was John Huston's directorial debut and the book and film was my introduction to the world of mystery writing and movies. I was nine years old at the time and have never lost my love of mysteries.

In 1921, Spade sets up his own agency in San Francisco and years later Miles Archer talks Spade into taking him on as a partner. Spade does so but keeps a close eye on the man whom he does not trust. Talk about trust. Sam is sleeping with Archer's wife Iva! Effie Perine works for Spade and is an innocent surrounded by hard core criminals but rarely loses her cool. As seems usual in crime stories, the police are bumbling and really do need Spade's help.

A fortune in gold coin is stolen from a ship, which necessitates Spade spending time on the docks. He almost incidentally solves the disappearance of a young man who is probably a runaway. His method of solving crime may be unorthodox but, by gum, it works. He seems to draw beautiful but mysterious women to him like flies to honey.

Author Joe Gores has, to my mind, successfully set the stage for Sam Spade to appear on the scene. If you have a passion for old-time crime novels, don't miss this one. And if this genre is new to you, give it a try. Like Mikey, you'll like it.

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