Joseph's Reviews > Spade & Archer: The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon

Spade & Archer by Joe Gores
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's review
Mar 12, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction

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 approaching a book like this to imagine one's own spin on the material, but with the exception of Effie, I do feel that Gores legitimately missed his target here. The motive force of the novel should have been the relationship between Spade and Archer, with Effie and Archer's wife tugging on them from the sidelines, rather than focusing on a woman and criminal invented from whole cloth.
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