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 & Archer 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 half a century.
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