Here is another one - Spade and Archer - a prequel which lays bare the ups and downs of Sam Spade before he becomes involved with that raptor from Malta. This is a hard-boiled, gritty detective story with plenty of 1920’s ambience and the added satisfaction of knowing that the hero will always save the day. After all, he’s Sam Spade.
A nod to Spade’s most famous adventure occurs in the second part of the novel when Spade visits the Bohemian Club and sees, on a bookcase, “an ancient-looking three-foot-high brass statue of some fierce-eyed predatory bird, ‘A falcon?’ Spade asks. ‘An owl” is the reply.
Author, Joe Gores takes Spade from Washington to San Francisco where he sets up his own successful detective agency. We find out how Effie Perrine, his secretary who is innocence personified, becomes involved with him, and we learn how Miles Archer becomes his partner.
Originally The Maltese Falcon was serialized in Black Mask Magazine, and Sam Spade gives a nod to this source of his later fame when he explains to his soon-to-be secretary that he’s a private investigator and she says, “Like in Black Mask?” His disgusted reply “you read the pulps!” Luckily, Spade’s original creator, Dashell Hammett, wasn’t so biased.
Sam Spade’s San Francisco is a city of secrets from the waterfront warehouses to the shops along Grant Avenue - Chinatown - to the freezing waters that lap at Alcatraz. Sam, himself, though sometimes an unsavory character, is angelic compared to his prey and even his clients. If you like your mysteries with atmosphere, Spade and Archer is positively hotsy-totsy!
To learn more about this and other books, visit the Boulder City Library at 701 Adams Boulevard, 293-1281, www.bouldercitylibrary.org