Spade & Archer

Spade & Archer
Joe Gores

This prequel to Dashiell Hammett’s classic 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon reintroduces us to such familiar figures from the original as detective Sam Spade, his secretary Effie Perine (fresh out of the St. Francis Technical School for Girls), his partner Miles Archer, and Miles’s horny wife Iva. The book consists of three novellas set in 1920s San Francisco and linked by the machinations of a sinister master villain. Unfortunately none of the colourful eccentrics of the original (Casper Gutman, Joel Cairo, Brigid O’Shaughnessy) are around to liven things up, Spade himself is a humourless tough-guy know-it-all, and the larger narrative arc is a standard revenge story, predictably resolved. Noir should be more fun than this.