August 26th, 2009


So I read something recently published.

Recently, a 3-time Edgar Allen Poe award-winner wrote a prequel to The Maltese Falcon.
Bloody effing audacious, said I, even if the fellow had written a bio of Hammett and a novel in which Hammett was the main character.

Anyways- one of my neighbors had given me a gift card at the local independent bookseller of note, I found naught else I wanted to read after a half-hour of looking, so screw it, I bought that.

Spade and Archer was the title- Joe Gores was the author.
Gores did, majestically, get down Hammett's narrative voice. Really, a stunning feat of emulation: I think it was helped by using the same fonts as the recent Vintage reprints, but still- rather staggeringly well-done on that front.
That said, my GOD but Hammett never wasted this many words on a plot so mediocre. He also didn't copy-pasta any previously-extant work (we get to see the one case @ Continental that stumped Sam- the one where the guy almost got whacked by a girder and 'it was like someone took the lid off your life and you could see all the gears'? Yeah, that.), almost entirely verbatim.
The novel does do the rather charming trick of ending with early lines from The Maltese Falcon neatly, though.

Did I enjoy it? Yes, mostly- there were moments of emulation turning into cut-and-paste that I could've done without, but it was overall a loving tribute to Mr. Hammett.
Would I recommend it? Not to someone who wasn't as much of a Hammett fanboy as I am.

There is a bit of irony in posting this and then discovering that Senator Ted Kennedy passed away- as I'm certain that The Maltese Falcon is one of the few books he and I both read in our lives.