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Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  763 ratings  ·  141 reviews
A wonderfully dark, pitch-perfect noir prequel to The Maltese Falcon, featuring Dashiell Hammett’s beloved detective, Sam Spade.

It’s 1921—seven years before Sam Spade will solve the famous case of the Maltese Falcon. He’s just set up his own agency in San Francisco and he gets off to a quick start, working cases (he doesn’t do domestic) and hiring a bright young secretary
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Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,394)
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Robert
Finished this yesterday, and must say I enjoyed it. Gores has the Hammett style down and it seems like it could well be the "McCoy" instead of the pastiche/homage that it is--to be sure, it is in the style of "Red Harvest" or "The Dain Curse" . . . three shporter separate adventures with a through line. There are a couple of howlers, though, for instance on p. 62 Gores has Spade sit on a red vinyl stool--forgetting that Vinyl as we know it wasn't viable before 1926 and certainly not widely used ...more
Ed
More Spade than Archer, this prequel is a treat. You hear Bogie doing the Spade lines in your head. Mr. Gores muscular writing pushes the narrative along and little bits seen again the "dingus novel" drop in. Bonus points for shout to THE GREAT GATSBY and Nick Charles. All in all, a fun private eye book about the great one before he became great. Fast read, too.
Spiros
Dec 12, 2008 Spiros rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any and all Hammett fans
Recommended to Spiros by: KPR
Shelves: arc, california
Fittingly, it all starts with Flitcraft.
In the middle of THE MALTESE FALCON, which has been called the first existential detective novel, Sam Spade tells Brigid O'Shaugnessy about a case involving a man named Flitcraft, who disappeared from his affluent life in Tacoma, only to be tracked down ten years later in Spokane, living an identical life. This story, which has no bearing whatsoever on the MALTESE FALCON, is Joe Gores' starting point for this prequel.
As with his previous novel, HAMMETT, Go
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Kurt
This book isn't terrible, and Gores clearly loves Dashiell Hammett, the Maltese Falcon, and San Francisco of the 1920s, but Gores' prequel is mostly valuable for showcasing how phenomenally talented Dashiell Hammett was. There are many things to like about this story, which covers seven years of Sam Spade's life, ending with a scene that overlaps an early scene of Hammett's classic. The action is very much in keeping with Hammett's style, in which bad things happen to people, but mostly off-scre ...more
Erin
i know. why do so many writers feel an urge to write a prequel or sequel to somebody else's great work of literature? but still, i picked this book up. it may have been the cover that drew my eye... noir to the last detail. and gores does a great job with it. first, he's able to write in the mood of the great hammett. while that means i still don't know whether or not gores is a good writer, it did enable me to really enjoy this story. its sprawling -- covers over a decade in the life of sam spa ...more
Dale
It would be easy enough to criticize this novel on a number of fronts: the forgettable and not very believable plots, the over-attention to minute details of San Francisco streets and places, the almost parodic use of the Hammett style. But these are inconsequential when held up against the sheer pleasure of reading a Sam Spade novel. Spade skirts the law and has no time for its representatives, but holds his own ethical code inviolate, even when doing so puts himself at risk. He is also a kind ...more
Brenda Mengeling
I enjoyed Spade and Archer quite a bit. In my head Humphrey Bogart played the role of Sam Spade, so that may have helped. However, the story was good. It occurred in three parts over a span of 7 years. Each part has its own case/solution but the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. If from the movie The Maltese Falcon or the book you wondered about the whole Spade-Archer dynamic, this book provides a plausible background.

It's been a long time since I read The Maltese Falcon by Hammett, so
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Bookmarks Magazine

Nearly all critics begin their reviews with one, head-scratching question: Why? The pages of book sections are littered with excoriating reviews of prequels to classics like Gone With The Wind and The Godfather. So it's an even greater tribute to Gores's achievement that, but for one glaring exception, he creates a chorus of converts. This meticulously researched backstory is a highly entertaining novel in its own right, albeit one that happens to cast new light on one of crime fiction's most co

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Claudia
Reading this right after reading THE MALTESE FALCON might have been unfair to Gores, but I really did love how he reflected Hammett's voice without trying to imitate. Truth be known, I preferred Hammett, but...Gore gave me so much back story...how Effie and Sam met, why he's carrying the weight of the world on those rounded shoulders, what a jerk Miles Archer was, and what a knight in shining armor Sam became to avenge the murder of a jerk.

You could tell that Gores knew and loved the characters,
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Roberta
I never realized I was a fan of vintage crime stories until I finished reading this easy-reading & absorbing novel. The author, Joe Gores, received permission & inspiration from the only surviving daughter of the author of the 1931 best seller - The Maltese Falcon - to write this preclude to that book, including its main character, Sam Spade.

This new book takes place in San Francisco during the 1920's - an era of bootleg whiskey, brothels, longshoremen unions, & corruption. Sam takes
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charlie
Did this book need to be written...? It's flap offers that it gives rationale and backstory to much of Sam Spade's dark personality in Maltese Falcon... But Spade's unexplained backstory was Hammett's choice. This is not another writer's turf! In fact, why doesn't he invent new characters? Why do they do this?

So, as per usual, I was annoyed through most of the book. Authors enlisted to revive (steal?) classic characters of the past just make me cranky. But, I have to admit, i really enjoyed this
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Tom
Well it ends with Effie announcing Bridget Wonderly, but it is a "corker".

Watch for the homages to Hammet, Spade takes an alias of "Nick Charles" at one point. I felt that the main vilian was relatively faceless, but many of the minor characters were great. Even some real life people, Henry Brisbane for Harry Bridges, etc. There is no facon, but some owls show up
Justin
I was very impressed by this book. Author is well keeping to the period and the story was fun. Now I need to go watch the Maltese Falcon again!
Nick
"Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon" by Joe Gores is first rate and a real addition to the tradition of the hard boiled detective genre. Gores, a noted Hammett scholar and Edgar Award-winning novelist, got authorization from the Hammett estate for this novel. I am suspicious of "authorized works" because authorized novels have been disappointing in the past and tend to be bland and less than creative in the name of preserving the memory of some long dead per ...more
MB Taylor
Finished reading Spade & Archer (2009) by Joe Gores on the way to work this morning. Subtitled “The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon”, Spade & Archer presents three episodes in Sam Spade’s life from 1921, 1925 and 1928; each episode is a nearly self-contained novella, about half the length of The Maltese Falcon. The last ends about half an hour before The Maltese Falcon begins (well the last five paragraphs are a verbatim quote from the first page of The Maltese Falcon).

I
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Robyn Hawk
That Joe Gores is a huge fan of Dashiell Hammett is no secret - if your missed his Hammett (Crime Masterworks)- you will want to go back and order it after reading Spade & Archer.

This book gives you everything you expect from a Sam Spade novel - mysteries, keen detective work, shootings, damsels in distress, slimey partners, and the quick hard and fast dialogue that Humphrey Bogart pushed to iconic!

Spade & Archer will draw you in from the beginning with Spade impersonating a Port Authori
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Steve Dennie
I didn’t have high hopes for “Spade and Archer,” even though it is published under the Black Lizard imprint, which rarely disappoints. A prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s classic “The Maltese Falcon”? Really? Who exactly is Joe Gores? And who gave him permission to use Hammett’s characters?

Actually, Hammett’s surviving daughter gave permission. Gores approached her in 1999 about doing a prequel, and she said no. Then in 2004, she approached him about a sequel. He said no, but restated his interest i
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Ron Arden
Joe Gores brought me right into the world of Sam Spade. This is supposed to be a prequel to Dashiell Hammett's great "The Maltese Falcon" and it could have been written by Hammett himself.

We meet Sam Spade just after WW I in Seattle, where he is about to quit the Continental detective agency and strike out on his own. He goes to San Francisco, hangs out a shingle, hires the great Effie Perine as a secretary and is off and running. As I was reading this book I was picturing Humphrey Bogart in the
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Tony
Gores, Joe. SPADE & ARCHER. (2009). ****. Touted as a prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon,” it could be – especially with the end that obviously leads into that case. It’s really a P.I. novel using Sam Spade and his one-time partner, Miles Archer, as the protagonists. Although several cases are covered, there is a common thread through all of them – the villain. Sam has just left the Continental Detective Agency in Seattle and moved on to San Francisco to start his own business ...more
HBalikov
Dashiell Hammett wrote some great yarns. My favorite may be the brutal Red Harvest, but he showed a lighter touch with The Thin Man and built on his own detective experience with The Continental Op.

His excellent noir, The Maltese Falcon, was the only story that featured private eye, Sam Spade.
Anyone who saw the movie was struck with Humphrey Bogart's ability to vitalize Spade. And his monologue at the end, directed at Mary Astor is perfection.

Now with the blessing of the Hammett estate, Joe Gor
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Mike
Sep 27, 2010 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I read this book several months ago and I could have sworn that I added a review for it... oh well.

I know that to some people it might seem like bad manners or even heresy to presume to take the Bogart-character-to-be and write a tale around him and his partner. But who among us has never read a collaboration of two or more authors? Or a book completed posthumously by a second author? Or something ghost-written (ok, leave that one out of the "good" side of the scoreboard)? Or even more likely, a
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Onefinemess
(The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon)

Having not read The Maltese Falcon (although I think I saw the movie a decade ago) I'm (again!) going to be a bit out of the water when it comes to reviewing this thing in the proper context. I mean, in addition to filling in some of the background for the aforementioned book, this is supposed to be written in the same style, right?

I'm going to assume TMF has an incredible array of historical factoids about San Francisco that have no bearing
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Alan
Being a long time crime-buff and including both "Red Harvest" and "The Maltese Falcon" high up on the list of the "best novels I have ever read", I was keen to try this book but also anxious that it would let me down... Was it as good as the original? No. But it was a very good book.

What Joe Gores does extremely well is pay tribute to all that is good about Dashiell Hammett. He revels in the task, struts his literary stuff, and winds up with a very respectable spin-off. The characters are true t
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Jennifer
This book has some buzz about it. I am not sure how I feel about extensions of another author's work, is it poaching or brave and forward thinking? Partially reading this now because I am enjoying the city lately and wanted to read about its past, and I really love the genre. So far I would say that his writing is a shadow of Hammett's so this is vaguely unsatisfying. I vividly remember reading Hammett's Continental short stories which had an electricity about the prose and visuals. This is visu ...more
Terry
I love the works of Dashiell Hammett and I liked the earlier books of Joe Gores, but I hit a wall on this one and almost gave it up early on. I stuck with it and became a little more engaged as the book progressed. The plotting is a lot like Hammett, but the writing is arch and self-conscious -- and I found myself editing constantly, which is not a good way to enjoy a novel. Gores just tries too hard -- or maybe I'd be disappointed if I go back and read Hammett again. He also tries too hard to g ...more
Suzan
The prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s crime classic The Maltese Falcon provides noir lovers with detailed character studies that reveal how one of the world’s most iconic detectives became the hard-boiled, straight-shooting and canny operator we know and love from The Maltese Falcon. Gores creates, seemingly effortlessly, an enthralling and atmospheric recreation of San Francisco in the 1920s—where bootleg booze, broads, gold smugglers, waterfront thugs and grizzled cops vie for attention in a serie ...more
Joseph
Not a bad book, but a little disappointing. Despite the title, Archer is a minor character at best, seemingly shoehorned into a story that should have been expressly designed to feature him. Gores does manage to provide a reason for Effie's endless loyalty to Sam, but for the most part, the book seems to act as almost a vindication for Spade, revealing him as a fundamentally decent and virtuous man who comes to have a deeply cynical outlook on a corrupt world.

I suppose it's inevitable when appro
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Jrobertus
This book is a wonderfully written prequel to The Maltese falcon. Joe Gores writes in the Hammett style and he has got the character down cold. The novel begins in 1921; Spade is back from the war and working as an Op for the Continental Detective Agency in Seattle. He finishes a case there, quits the agency and returns to San Francisco to set up his own office. Gores weaves a complex of plots, but ties them up neatly. Despite the title, the book is not mostly about how Archer becomes his partne ...more
Trish
Gores does a magnificent job of recreating the era in which Hammett wrote and the rhythm of his style. I thought the first two parts of the book were authentic and well-done, with tension, dialogue, and human drama. I was less enamored of the last part. I see in the acknowledgements that he had help with that part. I thought the third part unconvincing and slow, and left loose ends in my mind about the main character, Samuel Spade. I came to care about him and his activities less than before. I ...more
Vicki
This was a fun prequel to The Maltese Falcon recently written by Joe Gores. I read The Maltese Falcon earlier this month and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. In fact, I was drawn to get this book because I wanted to read more about Sam Spade. I'm not sure the Spade in S&A is really the Spade of TMF--even at the end of S&A, which closes where TMF opens. But he's close enough that I was pretty well satisfied by the book. The period set-pieces and atmosphere were great, and I liked h ...more
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JOE GORES is the author of the acclaimed DKA series of street-level crime and detection, as well as the stunning suspense novels Dead Man and Menaced Assassin. Born in 1931, he served in the U.S. Army-writing biographies of generals at the Pentagon-was educated at the University of Notre Dame and Stanford, and spent twelve years as a San Francisco private investigator. The author of dozens of nove ...more
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