Spade & Archer

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Click for availability and more information Spade & Archer , by Joe Gores

Set up as a prequel to Dashiell Hammett's classic detective novel, The Maltese Falcon, Spade & Archer is an affectionate pastiche of Hammett's literary work. Author Joe Gores, focusing on a time frame spanning the years 1921, 1925 and 1928, outlines the various events and cases that private eye Sam Spade takes part in, establishing himself as a top-notch private detective in the process. We find out about Spade's WWI record, the background behind his relationship with future partner Miles Archer (who, despite his inclusion in the book's title, has only a cusory presence in the scheme of things), his affair with Miles' wife, and his near decade long battle of wits with a mysterious criminal mastermind who always seems one step ahead (and who's frankly no Casper Gutman, if you know what I mean). Sam also winds up in a Maltese Falcon-like search for missing money near the end of the book. Gores pretty much captures Hammett's punchy style, although he occasionally falls into the trap of having characters tell the reader what's going on rather than showing them. (Why does one character, early in the book, describe Spade's entire war experience to Spade?!? That's a very awkward moment of exposition for the reader.) There are loads of in-joke references (fans of Hammett's The Thin Man will appreciate the name Spade uses as an alias in one scene) as well as forshadowing of events that occur in the subsequent Falcon, including a great closing scene that... Nope, I won't spoil it. In a nutshell, Spade & Archer is a Hammett (and mystery) fan's delight.
-Ed

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry published on July 9, 2009 5:05 PM.

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