The Maltese Falcon

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Article in Adult Fiction, Big Read, Historical, and Mystery categories.

About the Author

Dashiell Hammett based his "hard-boiled" detective fiction on personal experiences. Leaving home at 13 and working a variety of odd jobs, he was employed by the Pinkerton Agency from 1915 to 1922, except for a tour as an ambulance driver during the Great War. He quit detective work partly from disillusionment from the agency's participation in strike-breaking.

Sam Spade's office was modeled on Hammet's own apartment in San Francisco.

Other Works by Dashiell Hammett

Film Adaptations

A scene from the 1931 movie starring Ricardo Cortez and Bebe Daniels.


Warner Brothers released a lighter (and less sexually explicit) version in 1936 starring Bette Davis, entitled Satan Met A Lady


The trailer from John Huston's 1941 adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor.


Art Theft

The Los Angeles Police Department's Art Theft Detail hosts a site with news, summaries of real cases, and even puzzles allowing you to guess whether a work is real or fake.

  • The Rape of Europa: the Fate of Europe's Treasures in the Third Reich and the Second World War by Lynn H. Nicholas

Some Other Works in the Hard-Boiled Style

  • Huge by James Fuerst
Classic noir as interpreted by a 12-year-old. For high school/adult readers.
Hard-boiled, but with more than a grain of salt in the water.

Hammett's Legacy

The International Association of Crime Writers (North American branch) awards the yearly Hammett Prize for "literary excellence in the field of crime-writing, as reflected in a book published in the English language in the US and/or Canada." See past winners here.