The Maltese Falcon
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett
From the fog shrouded curve of the Embarcadero to the solitary comfort found in enjoying chops, a baked potato and sliced tomatoes in a darkened booth in John's Grill on Ellis Street, private detective Sam Spade keeps a cynical eye on San Francisco. Spade runs a P.I. firm that gets things done even if it means bending (but not quite breaking) the law.
Spade is tough and as cold as the wind whipping the waves under the Golden Gate. He's a cynical and solitary gumshoe who lives by his own code of justice. He knows how to get things done. Who he can bamboozle and when to call it quits and fold his hand.
Working hard to keep his cool just shy of a chilled martini, Spade heats up the action when his partner, Miles Archer, is gunned down on a stakeout. Spade will stop at nothing to solve the murder and he's not about to take the rap for the crime himself. The cops want to nail Spade for Archer's murder. They've certainly got a motive. Spade was having an affair with Miles Archer's wife. In Spade's view, it's one thing to sleep with your partner's wife but quite another to fail to catch his killer.
Then there's that luscious new client, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, a sexy redhead that's riper than fresh strawberries. The dame came to Spade using an alias of ‘Ruth Wonderly'. She claimed she was looking for her long lost sister and a man called Floyd Thursby. Her story rang about as true as a panhandler's hard-luck tale.
Spade put Miles Archer on the case and soon Archer and Thursby were both found dead and Brigid was changing her story faster than she could change her shoes. Under pressure from Spade, Brigid admits the story about a sister was a lie. She is searching for a valuable antique statue and she'll cut Spade in on the profits if he'll agree to help her.
Add to the mystery is a Greek con-man named Joel Cairo, a hired gun called Wilmer, and an obese and distasteful gentleman of dubious sexual tastes by the name of Casper Gutman. The missing link between Brigid and this den of thieves seems to be a bird. A black bird. Once the treasure of kings, the priceless statue of a falcon is, according to Gutman (aka the Fatman) worth considerably more than its weight in gold. Everyone wants to find the Maltese falcon. Only Sam Spade will have the wits and nerve to track the falcon down, keeping one eye open at all times for a stab in the back.
Lauded as perhaps the best detective story ever written, The Maltese Falcon, thrills readers with its dark and dangerous tones and a colorful cast of characters. Dashiell Hammett's real treasure was not to be found in a jewel-encrusted statue of a falcon but in his 1930 creation of the hard-boiled detective, Sam Spade.