Joe Gores's new detective thriller gives the compelling back story to a partnership that has left its mark on American film and literature for decades while remaining utterly mysterious. The shadow of that partnership, between iconic private dick Sam Spade and his ill-fated compatriot Miles Archer, is intimately woven into the drama of the book you should read right after you put down Spade & Archer
: Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon
As a review in The New York Times
makes abundantly clear, Spade &
is not the rightful heir to Hammett's inimitable narrative style. Faced
with a momentous task, Gores inevitably stumbles, and if you come to the book
expecting a perfectly executed exemplar of the genre you will be disappointed.
Where Gores succeeds is in breathing life into a story that has been left at loose
ends for more than...
Beyond the Book
American Labor on the Docks
The Miles Archer character in Gores's novel has earned his tough-guy reputation by helping quell labor unrest on the docks of Seattle, in part by outing "Wobblies." For the unfamiliar, this plot line may be a bit confusing, but it is historically accurate, and adds welcome color to the novel's setting.
The history of American labor is one of conflict and compromise, and nowhere has this been more true than on the docks. Port cities were among the primary engines of economic growth in the country's early industrial period, and some of the first attempts to build labor unions were carried out by dockworkers (also called longshoremen and stevedores). The Knights of Labor, the American Federation of Labor, and the International...