You can’t help thinking Sam Spade was invented simply so that Humphrey Bogart could immortalize him on the big screen in 1941. Well, what about the inventor’s declaration that Spade “looked rather pleasantly like a blond Satan”? That’s how Dashiell Hammett describes the original, infinitely interpretable hard-boiled detective very early in The Maltese Falcon, the third of Hammett’s five novels and the one that has transfixed us for three-quarters of a century.
The Sacramento Public Library commemorates Spade and his originator with an exhibit of Maltese Falcon memorabilia from January 13 through January 29, including, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, a discussion of the novel with Hammett’s granddaughter, Julie Rivett.
New readers discover the book every year, and it still yields fresh pleasures: the pitiless, cutting style; the offhanded way it thwarts our segregation of popular pulp from literary classic; and, of course, the finer details of its archetypal protagonist. Call (916) 264-2920 for more information.