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

short stories featuring the unnamed protagonist of Red Harvest and The Dain Curse.

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.