Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon” as Want to Read:
Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  1,085 Ratings  ·  166 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 secretar
Paperback, 352 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published 2009)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Spade & Archer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Spade & Archer

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 22, 2009 Robert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 10, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 23, 2011 Kurt rated it it was ok
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
Dec 07, 2008 Spiros rated it really liked it  ·  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
Joe  Noir
Dec 05, 2016 Joe Noir rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a prequel to a classic novel by another author, this book is pretty good. It’s clear that one is not reading Hammett, but Gores does a fine job. The tone is very close, but the writing as a whole is smoother than Hammett’s. Gores uses a couple of terms that may be anachronistic, from a later period than the twenties. The characterization of Sam Spade is spot on, in my opinion. This is the detective from The Maltese Falcon.

As a standalone novel, this is a great read. A fine example of hardboi
Nov 22, 2013 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Picking up another author’s pen can be very dangerous sledding. When that author and his characters are both iconic – well that may border on sacrilege. Joe Gores does just that with Spade & Archer, having written a prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. Here’s the good news/bad news – I don’t think anyone familiar with Hammett’s work will wonder whether Hammett’s been resurrected and is writing again or a lost Hammett novel has recently surfaced. That doesn’t mean this is a bad b ...more
Feb 25, 2009 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 25, 2009 Dale rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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
Feb 23, 2013 Brenda Mengeling rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, fiction, 49
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
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

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 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,
Feb 17, 2009 Tom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Jul 16, 2009 Justin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Meh, this was okay. It read/felt like an old movie: every single move, gesture, etc... was detailed. It took a long time for the story to become interesting.
My fedora's off to the author for perfectly capturing the atmosphere of "The Maltese Falcon".

Of course, now I have to read the original again.
Steve Dennie
Jun 03, 2011 Steve Dennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-lizard
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
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).

Aug 18, 2012 Nick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
(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
May 20, 2009 Tony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 16, 2012 Alan rated it liked it
Shelves: life-of-crime
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
Todd Stockslager
Jun 05, 2015 Todd Stockslager rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Fun hardboiler tells the back story of Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett's famously noir detective who solved The Maltese Falcon case. We meet Spade in 1921 on his last case as a Continental op before hanging out his own shingle in San Francisco. Here we see Spade the young private investigator ("I don't do domestics") struggling to get his business going, hiring secretary Effie Perine and finding her more world-wise than her innocent exterior, and befriending Sid Wise and finding him more honest than ...more
Mar 29, 2015 T.W. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Assessing the merits of a prequel written by a different author than the one who wrote the novel which it precedes, is to some extent probably one of those “in the eye of the beholder” things. Having said that, in my subjective opinion, Joe Gores’ Spade & Archer is an excellent book—a highly engaging and plausible back-story to The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. After I read it the first time, I immediately re-read The Maltese Falcon, and was greatly pleased with a smooth transition tha ...more
Kai Coates
In general, I have not found a lot of continuation stories (when an author takes up another author's famous work and decides to give it a prequel or sequel) to be a success. Some are brilliant (mainly I am thinking of Wide Sargasso Sea), and others make you wish everyone had just left well enough alone (looking at you Scarlett). I have yet to find a bastardization of Jane Austen that was worth the paper it was printed on. So, I had low expectations when I started reading Spade & Archer.

Feb 09, 2014 Roberta rated it really liked it
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
Apr 16, 2014 charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 27, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  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
Robyn Hawk
Jun 10, 2009 Robyn Hawk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
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
Dec 07, 2011 HBalikov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Devil's Garden
  • Two Down (Crossword Mysteries, #2)
  • Reservations for Murder (A Lighthouse Inn Mystery, #2)
  • The Best American Mystery Stories 1997
  • L.A. Noir
  • The Weight
  • Black Money
  • Stone Quarry (Lydia Chin & Bill Smith, #6)
  • Dolled Up For Murder (Gretchen Birch, #1)
  • Bundle of Trouble (A Maternal Instincts Mystery, #1)
  • The Fifth Floor (Michael Kelly, #2)
  • Empty Mile
  • The Bone Fire (Gil Montoya Mystery #2)
  • Getting Old Is a Disaster (Gladdy Gold, #5)
  • L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City
  • Lost Stories
  • The Cocktail Waitress (Hard Case Crime #109)
  • Biggie and the Devil Diet (Biggie Weatherford, #6)
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
More about Joe Gores...

Share This Book