Title: Spade and Archer
Author: Joe Gores
Release Date: February 10, 2009
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Source: Curled Up With a Good Book
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
At some point, you’ve probably run across Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, which has become a classic detective story in modern literature. Whether it’s through the seminal novel or the now classic portrayal of Detective Sam Spade by the beloved Humphrey Bogart, The Maltese Falcon is a staple in American cultural history. In Spade & Archer, Joe Gores takes us back to the beginning, to Sam Spade’s start as an independent “private dick.”
There is a lot of background information not given the in depth treatment in The Maltese Falcon. Gores takes these little nuggets of information and expands on them, weaving an intricate storyline while staying true to Hammett’s style. Gores’ writing is very similar to Hammett’s; even if that is a learned trait rather than a natural one, Gores does it impressively well. If a reader wasn’t certain that the two novels were written by different men, it would be easy to believe that they had the same author.
The most impressive part of Spade & Archer is Sam Spade himself. Gores has him down pat; every mannerism, every word choice, every action is carefully measured. The depictions of him are incredibly vivid; Gores really brings the character to life and imbues him with the personality crafted for him by Dashiell Hammett. However, the Spade we meet in Spade & Archer is much younger and less seasoned than the one in The Maltese Falcon. It takes immense talent to do that, to take a character established by someone else and peel him apart layer by layer. Gores takes off just the right amount in able to make him a completely believable young Samuel Spade. Every detail is perfect: while I was reading, I could hear Bogie (Humphrey Bogart) saying each of the lines in my head, knowing that they were exactly what would emerge from Sam Spade’s mouth if he were real.
The mystery contained within the novel is a good one; it’s not quite The Maltese Falcon quality, but that was a once in a lifetime case. Spade & Archer is milder and quieter, on a smaller level; after all, every detective has to start somewhere. Gores crafts the story very well and keeps the reader hooked, trying to figure out what is really going on behind the scenes and how everything is connected.
Spade & Archer is a must read for any fans of The Maltese Falcon. If you haven’t read or seen The Maltese Falcon, then it’s a bit more difficult. It would still be enjoyable, but the reader would lose a lot. Also, The Maltese Falcon is such an amazing book, why haven’t you read it yet? The best way to approach it would be to read Spade & Archer, and then follow it immediately with The Maltese Falcon!