Excerpt from Spade & Archer by Joe Gores, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Spade & Archer

The Prequel to Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon

by Joe Gores

Spade & Archer
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2009, 352 pages
    Mar 2010, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Micah Gell-Redman

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Print Excerpt

"Theodore does. Constantly." Her head shake danced carefully marcelled curls under her narrow-brimmed hat. "You men always stick together."

Spade nodded with seeming indifference.

"Theodore and he were great cronies-golf and tennis, drinks at the club. When he abandoned poor Eleanor five years ago and didn't turn up dead Theodore called him the one who got away. Eleanor is my best friend. She never remarried."

The skylight in the high vaulted ceiling laid a slanted bar of pale afternoon sunlight across one corner of their table. Spade's raised brows, which peaked slightly above his yellow-gray eyes, encouraged confidences.

"Did Eleanor's husband recognize you?"

"No. And only when they were past did I recognize him, from his voice-a distinctive tenor I'd always found irritating." She pursed thin lips and something like malice gleamed in her eyes. "Of course I immediately called Eleanor in Tacoma to tell her I had seen her missing husband here in Spokane."

"And she believed you. Even if your husband doesn't."

"My husband never believes me."

"If the man's here I'll find him."

After she had gone Spade remained, rolled and smoked three cigarettes in quick succession, muttered aloud, "What the hell?" and left the hotel.

John Graham's Bookstore was on the corner of Sprague Avenue and West First Avenue, hard by the Davenport Hotel. Spade entered with long strides, slowed as if looking for a particular volume on the crowded shelves. There were a half dozen browsers and an almost pleasant smell of old books in the air.

Graham himself, a thin bespectacled man with a trim white mustache and wings of silver hair swept back from either side of his face, was ringing up a sale on the front register. A female clerk was selling a customer a book halfway down the store.

Spade went that way, his eyes hooded. The clerk was a blonde of about his age, pretty verging on beautiful, with an oval face, blue eyes, and a moist red mouth. Her silk-striped woolen rep dress, too fashionable for a shopgirl to wear to work, clung to an exquisite body.

The big round blue eyes lit up when she saw Spade. She hurried her sale to just short of rudeness, came up to Spade, raised her face for his kiss. Instead, he put an arm around her shoulders, turned her slightly, kissed her on the cheek.

"You didn't tell me you were in town!" she exclaimed in a slightly hurt voice.

"Just for the day," he lied easily. "On a case."

"And you came into Graham's for old time's sake," she said. "Because we met here." In that light her eyes looked almost violet. "That first time, you came in to get a book and instead you got..."-she opened her arms wide-"me!"

Spade grunted. "Just as a rental."

"That's a nasty thing to say to a girl, Sam."

"Not a girl anymore. Not Ida Nolan anymore."

"What did you expect? You ran off to be a hero in France."

His eyes hardened between down-drawn brows. He said in a sarcastic voice, "I love you, Sam. I'll wait for you, Sam."

"I got lonely."

"And married Miles Archer three months after I left."

"Miles was here. Miles was eager to marry me. Miles-"

"I saw Miles in Tacoma a couple of nights ago," Spade said. "He thanked me."

She said almost cautiously, "For what?"

"Going into the army. Leaving him an open field."

"He isn't due back from Tacoma until tomorrow..."

"I'm booked on the four oh five stage to Seattle."

"To hell with you, Sam Spade," Iva Archer said viciously.

The engines growled and shook; white water boiled up around the stern of the Eliza Anderson as she backed away from the ramshackle Victoria, British Columbia, slip. Fog, wet as rain, already had swept most of the passengers off the darkening deck into the cabin for their three-hour trip down Puget Sound to Seattle.

Excerpted from Spade & Archer by Joe Gores Copyright © 2009 by Joe Gores. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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