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New book reveals discoveries about The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett, and detective Sam Spade

Hammett expert Richard Layman packs Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade with hundreds of unexpected delights, says Los Angeles Times

San Francisco, Calif. - Sept. 7, 2005 - A richly illustrated new paperback published today, Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade, edited by Richard Layman, uncovers from institutional and private archives a wealth of revelations about the book and film versions of The Maltese Falcon, its author Dashiell Hammett, and his influential hero, detective Sam Spade. Crammed with fascinating facts, the new book provides hundreds of never-before-published photos, documents, and original source materials, including production notes for the three movie versions.

"A treasure beyond price for fans of both the classic Hammett novel and the three (that's right, three) film versions of the doomed quest for a black bird," writes Kenneth Turan in The Los Angeles Times. "An incredible amalgam of photos, memos, letters, reviews, whatever, this will make fans of the book or the film gasp as one unexpected delight succeeds another. With this book, wonders really do never cease."

The result of a lifetime of research by Hammett expert Layman, Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade provides hundreds of surprises about the novel, its author, and its film versions, such as:

  • For rights to publish the now-famous novel (which has sold more than 4.5 million copies in English alone), publisher Alfred A. Knopf paid author Hammett an advance of nothing.
  • The sculptor who created the legendary statuette of the black bird for the 1941 Humphrey Bogart movie may have been an accomplice of the Black Dahlia murderer and the killer of author James Ellroy's mother.
  • Working notes (printed here for the first time) for The Secret Emperor, Hammett's first, never-finished novel, show that it included elements he later used in The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key.
  • About the same time that Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon, he also wrote "The Boundaries of Science and Philosophy," published here for the first time.
  • More than two thousand changes were made to the original magazine version of The Maltese Falcon before it was published as a novel.
Contributors to Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade include Dashiell Hammett himself, plus Jo Hammett, Richard Layman, Joseph Shaw, Mary Astor, Dorothy Parker, Hal Wallis, John Huston, Joe Gores, William F. Nolan, and more than fifty additional writers. It is illustrated with more than 250 black & white and color photos, illustrations, and facsimiles. The book is "the stuff that dreams are made of" for fans of The Maltese Falcon, Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett, detective fiction, film noir, and the history of literature and cinema.

Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade is the second title in The Ace Performer Collection, a new series of books by and about Dashiell Hammett, crowned "the ace performer" by his disciple Raymond Chandler. It is released in 2005 as part of events held worldwide this year to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the publication of Dashiell Hammett's masterpiece The Maltese Falcon, often named as one of the twentieth-century's best novels. John Huston's film adaptation made Humphrey Bogart a star, and was selected by the American Film Institute as number 23 in its selection of the 100 greatest movies of all time.

About Richard Layman
Richard Layman, the editor of Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade, has written six books on Dashiell Hammett, including American Masterpieces: The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett: A Descriptive Bibliography, and Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett. He was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America for editing Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett, 1921-1960. He is vice president of Bruccoli Clark Layman Inc., which produces reference works in literary and social history, including the Dictionary of Literary Biography. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

Discovering The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade: The Evolution of Dashiell Hammett's Classic Novel, Including John Huston's Movie with Humphrey Bogart edited by Richard Layman
Publication date: September 7, 2005. Publisher: Vince Emery Productions
Trade paperback; $19.95 U.S./$26.95 Canada; 376 pages; ISBN 0-9725898-6-4

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