When Sam Spade gets drawn into the Maltese Falcon case, we know what to expect: straight talk, hard questions, no favors, and no way for anyone to get underneath the protective shell he wears like a second skin. We know that his late partner, Miles Archer, was a son of a bitch; that Spade is sleeping with Archers wife, Iva; that his tomboyish secretary, Effie Perine, is the only innocent in his life. What we dont know is how Spade became who he is. Spade & Archer completes the picture.
1921: Spade sets up his own agency in San Francisco and clients quickly start coming through the door. The next seven years will see him dealing with booze runners, waterfront thugs, stowaways, banking swindlers, gold smugglers, bumbling cops, and the illegitimate daughter of Sun Yat-sen; with murder, other mens mistresses, and long-missing money. Hell bring in Archer as a partner, though it was Archer who stole his girl while he was fighting in World War I. Hell tangle with a villain who never loses his desire to make Spade pay big for ruining what shouldve been the perfect crime. And hell fall in lovethough it wont turn out for the best. It never does with dames...
Spade & Archer is a gritty, pitch-perfect, hard-boiled novelthe work of a master mystery writerdestined to become a classic in its own right.
Spade's Last Case
It was thirteen minutes short of midnight. Drizzle glinted through the wind-danced lights on the edge of the Tacoma Municipal Dock. A man a few years shy of thirty stood in a narrow aisle between two tall stacks of crated cargo, almost invisible in a black hooded rain slicker. He had a long bony jaw, a flexible mouth, a jutting chin. His nose was hooked. He was six feet tall, with broad, steeply sloping shoulders.
He stayed in the shadows while the scant dozen passengers disembarked from the wooden-hulled steam-powered passenger ferry Virginia V, just in from Seattle via the Colvos Passage. His cigarette was cupped in one palm as if to shield it from the rain, or perhaps to conceal its glowing ember from watching eyes.
The watcher stiffened when the last person off the Virginia V was a solid, broad-shouldered man in his late thirties, dressed in a brown woolen suit. His red heavy-jawed face was made for joviality, but his small brown eyes were wary, ...
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 half a century.
(Reviewed by Micah Gell-Redman).
Full Review (1001 words).
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 ...
If you liked Spade & Archer, try these:
San Francisco's Chinatown, 1940: Miranda Corbie, a private investigator, stumbles upon the fatally shot body of Eddie Takahashi. The Chamber of Commerce wants it covered up. The cops acquiesce. But Miranda wants justice - whatever it costs.
Walter Mosley, "one of crime fiction's brightest stars," returns to mysteries at last! Fearless Jones is a dazzling new thriller, set in 1950s L.A. and featuring the most engaging hero since Easy Rawlins.
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