Tea Tonic and Toxin: Mystery and Thriller Podcast and Book Club

Sam Spade: The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon: All About Sam Spade: Listen to the Podcast!
The Maltese Falcon: All About Sam Spade: Listen to the Podcast!
Tea, Tonic, and Toxin
Sam Spade: The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett: All About Sam Spade

Published in 1930, The Maltese Falcon is gritty, gripping noir at its best, and Sam Spade is a detective for the ages. As far as detective stories go, this one’s a game changer.

Detective Sam Spade’s cool, cynical nature turned him into one of the most memorable characters in literature and film, most notably the 1941 release starring Humphrey Bogart. Both the book and the movie are stunners.

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Podcast Transcript: Sam Spade and The Maltese Falcon

Sarah Harrison 0:24
Welcome to Tea Tonic & Toxin, a book club and podcast for anyone who wants to explore the best mysteries and thrillers ever written. I’m your host, Sarah Harrison.

Carolyn Daughters 0:35
And I’m your host Carolyn Daughters. Pour yourself a cup of tea, a gin and tonic, …

Sarah Harrison 0:40
… but not a toxin …

Carolyn Daughters 0:44
And join us on a journey through 19th and 20th century mysteries and thrillers, every one of them a game changer.

Sarah Harrison 0:54
Carolyn …

Carolyn Daughters 0:55
Sarah! That only took us four or five hours to set up.

Sarah Harrison 1:00
Listeners, you have no idea what she’s talking about. She’s not talking about anything. Nothing took that long.

Carolyn Daughters 1:04
No, it’s very fast and seamless as it always here.

Sarah Harrison 1:07
We are a professional podcast of professionals.

Carolyn Daughters 1:11
That’s a lot of professionalism there.

Sarah Harrison 1:13
Yes. That’s because that’s what we’ve got

Mike Nugent 1:16
We got prose. P-R-O-S-E.

Carolyn Daughters 1:21
Yeah, P-R-O-S-E is exactly the kind of “pros” we have here. We’re talking about The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade this month.

Sarah Harrison 1:29
I know, and I’m so excited because I totally loved it.

Carolyn Daughters 1:33
I know. It’s amazing. I’d read it before. Of course, I’ve seen the movie. But rereading … sometimes you reread something, and it just feels a little “been there done that.” You’re not all that engaged. For me, I was super engaged beginning to end.

Sarah Harrison 1:50
Awesome. And I’m so excited about our guest today. We’re gonna go into great detail with him.

Carolyn Daughters 1:55
We are, but first we’re going to mention today’s wonderful sponsor.

Sarah Harrison 2:00
They are wonderful.

Carolyn Daughters 2:02
Our sponsor is Linden Botanicals, a Colorado-based company that sells the world’s healthiest herbal teas and extracts. Their team has traveled the globe to find the herbs that offer the best science-based support for stress relief, energy, memory, mood, kidney health, joint health, digestion, and inflammation. U.S. orders over $75 ship free. To learn more visit lindenbotanicals.com and use code mystery to get 15% off your first order.

Sarah Harrison 2:34
I love that. Is that new?

Carolyn Daughters 2:36
That’s new.

Sarah Harrison 2:37
We even have a coupon code. MYSTERY. Thank you, Linden Botanicals. You are wonderful and charming.

Carolyn Daughters 2:46
And we also have a listener award.

Sarah Harrison 2:48
We do. And Jennifer Gardner is also wonderful and charming and sent us a super cool postcard. If you listen to this podcast or look at our social very much, you know how much we love vintage book covers. The postcard was a vintage book cover of a Dorothy Sayers novel. She definitely won listener of the episode for that. Thank you, Jennifer. We are gonna send her a super sweet sticker.

Carolyn Daughters 3:24
They’re awesome. Do we have video this week?

Sarah Harrison 3:32
Yeah, we have video potential, so put that sticker up close and personal. We haven’t get jumped into the world of video, but once we have it we can start making clips or whatever.

Carolyn Daughters 3:46
How can you get your own sticker? All you have to do is comment on our website, which is teatonicandtoxin.com or on our Instagram page @teatonicandtoxin and Facebook page @teatonicandtoxin. And on top of all of that, because you’re looking for more to do, we would appreciate your reviews on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to Tea Tonic & Toxin. Your reviews help like-minded listeners find us.

Sarah Harrison 4:14
Your five-star reviews.

Carolyn Daughters 4:15
Yes, we don’t want any thing below five stars.

Sarah Harrison 4:19
Yeah, don’t waste your time. Why would you?

Carolyn Daughters 4:21
Yes, exactly. Sarah, we have a guest this month.

Sarah Harrison 4:26
I know. Our guest is so cool.

Carolyn Daughters 4:27
Yes. We’re so excited to have our guest, Mike Nugent. He has worked as a lawyer lobbyist, litigator, and business executive in the technology, intellectual property, and financial services fields. And he has also always worked at being a writer. And he’s an excellent writer. I can attest to that. He has self-published three political mystery novels and has a fourth about to be submitted. He has self-published a children’s book. He’s had several short stories published in various journals in the U.S. and abroad, one of which he has turned into was short screenplay. One of his books was a Writers and Readers magazine author-length featured thriller for two straight months, and another made it to the semifinalist round in the 2015 James Jones First Novel Fellowship Contest. That meant it was selected in the top 30 of more than 675 submissions.

Sarah Harrison 5:20
Awesome. Congrats, Mike.

Carolyn Daughters 5:23
You can find his work, and you should, and you can buy his books, and you should, at amazon.com at amazon.com/author/pmnugent. A couple other things. Mike is a member of Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Colorado, where he completed a two-year book project program on writing novels, led by 2023 Edgar Award winner Erika Kraus, who is amazing as well. We love Erika. Mike lives near the Jersey Shore. Welcome, Mike.

Sarah Harrison 5:57
Welcome, Mike. We’re super excited about you.

Mike Nugent 5:57
Very exciting.

Sarah Harrison 6:01
Thank you for your patience during our long professionalism that happened.

Mike Nugent 6:05
I learned a lot.

Sarah Harrison 6:11
We are going to be talking about The Maltese Falcon and Sam Spade. Before we jump into that, a quick summary. The Maltese Falcon is a classic detective novel written by Dashiell Hammett. We read one of his books, Red Harvest, last month. First published in 1930, the story takes place from December 5-10, 1929. Somebody did some research about that. A mysterious woman … Do you say Brigid? Do you say “Bri-geed”? Is it like French or something?

Carolyn Daughters 6:40

Sarah Harrison 6:41
We’ll say Brigid O’Shaughnessy.

Mike Nugent 6:43
She’s Irish so you gotta you gotta say Brigid.

Sarah Harrison 6:47
A mysterious woman hires private Investigator Sam Spade and his partner to locate her missing sister. Events take an unexpected turn when the partner, Miles Archer, is murdered, as is Floyd Thursby, the man who supposedly ran away with her sister, the man Archer was trailing. Spade delves deeper into the case. He encounters a series of untrustworthy characters, including the cunning Joel Cairo and the sinister Caspar Gutman. Everyone seems to be after a priceless statuette called the Maltese falcon. As the plot unfolds, Sam Spade must navigate a labyrinth of intrigue, deception, and betrayal to uncover the truth behind the falcon’s whereabouts. Set against the backdrop of 1920s San Francisco, The Maltese Falcon is a classic noir detective novel with a suspenseful and intricate plot. The complex characters and atmospheric writing style have made the book a timeless crime fiction classic. The 1941 film, directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, is also a masterpiece. Today, we’re excited to talk about The Maltese Falcon. It’s our eighth book selection of 2023. You can find more information about The Maltese Falcon and all of our 2023 book selections on our website, teatonicandtoxin.com.

Carolyn Daughters 8:23
Months ago, we knew what books we were read in 2023, and we circulated them to a select few people who we knew we really wanted as guests. And Mike, you were one of those potential guests. And you had indicated you would love to talk about The Maltese Falcon or I think The Case of the Velvet Claws as a backup.

Mike Nugent 8:45
Yes, that’s right.

Carolyn Daughters 8:48
What is it about The Maltese Falcon, for you, for your writing experience, that draws you to this book?

Mike Nugent 8:59
Well, thank you. Like Sarah, I love this book. It was a rich experience. I’ve read it, I think, three times.

Sarah Harrison 9:08
Oh, wow.

Mike Nugent 9:12
I even looked into the 1931 version of the movie versus the 1941. When I was starting my Jersey Shore series, the latest of which I’m putting out now, I had styled myself as a noir writer. And I quickly found that I really don’t know what noir is anymore. That might be worth a discussion on its own. But digging back into The The Maltese Falcon, I was struck by so many things that I hadn’t been struck by before, perhaps because I’ve taken a lot of writing classes and I’ve done a lot of writing. I did a lot of reading on this. What really struck me is how this book just changed the genre, and it blew me away again. You both mentioned this during your discussion of The Red Harvest that it was almost like you were reading a book for the first time. And I found that to be the case here. In many ways, it was a marked departure from old style criminal detective stories. It really did shake it up. And I have some thoughts on the ways that it did shake up the genre and also about whether or not it works. So I go back to my initial premise, which is “what is noir today?” Is it The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett starring Sam Spade, or is it something else?

Sarah Harrison 10:56
I want to know when you style yourself, as you say, as a noir writer, what do YOU mean when you say that? I’ve never thought about noir as a modern genre so much as almost like a genre in time.

Carolyn Daughters 11:15
Sarah, do you see it as like a John Huston 1941 Maltese Falcon movie?

Sarah Harrison 11:20
I do, and that’s what struck me when I started reading Red Harvest. I was like, it’s like I’m watching one of those old movies. To me, it’s very much of a period.

Carolyn Daughters 11:35
Less a genre, more of a period.

Sarah Harrison 11:36
I mean, in college, I tried to do like a noir short film. And we had our ways we tried to approach that, but I want to know, from a writing standpoint, Mike, how do you do noir in your books?

Mike Nugent 11:49
Well, if you look back at noir, it really is a period. It was the late 20s, the 30s, maybe the early 40s. It was an era of tremendous change in the U.S. And noir pretty much came out of the U.S. It was a period when the male world was coping with a whole new world of war, and of women entering the workforce, through war, and through the Depression. Much of what you read about the noir fiction is focused on the movies, because it’s black and white. Noir is the word for black, and many thought noir got that name because of the black and white films. But for me, it’s more the shadow world. It’s the world that simmers beneath the surface of light and day. When I write noir, I try to tap into that. I don’t think the bugaboos that that populated noir — and by bugaboos, I mean, women were exploited during that period, and maybe even put down. The male world was seeing women as a threat. That explains a lot of the tension in these books. But for me, it was the simmering underworld, which was represented by the chaos of World War II and what came out of it. You know, some have said that today, noir is more about rich versus poor. It’s not male versus female. It’s the underclass versus the upper class. So I try to write things that deal with that. In other words, my noir books really focus on a moment in history that comes back in the current day and age to haunt you to shake up your world and change the world forever. That’s my version of noir.

Sarah Harrison 13:53
That’s super cool. I want to actually pause for a second for our listeners. Would you mind telling us the name of the latest book you put out and if your forthcoming book has a name that we can look for? Can you tell us the name of that one?

Mike Nugent 14:06
Yeah, it’s not out yet. It’ll be out probably around November. It’s called Castles of Sand.

Sarah Harrison 14:11
In time for Christmas, listeners.

Mike Nugent 14:15
The three books are The Edge of the Sand, Money Like Sand, and Castles of Sand.

Sarah Harrison 14:20
The “Sand” trilogy.

Mike Nugent 14:22
Yeah, exactly. The Jersey Shore.

Sarah Harrison 14:24
There you go. My mind goes to Dune.

Carolyn Daughters 14:30
I have a question about noir and particularly Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest and Maltese Falcon. Mike, to what degree do you think these books are influenced by Prohibition and the Great Depression. The book takes place from December 5-10, 1928. When Hammett was writing the book, the Great Depression would have already started. To what degree are these factors in Dashiell Hammett’s writing style or in his work?

Mike Nugent 15:09
Well, I think quite a bit. When you think about when Dashiell Hammett was writing this book, he was doing a serialized fashion, I think was Black Mask magazine, the pulp magazine at the time. I think what he was thinking of when he wrote The Maltese Falcon is was what greed does to you. You could see that a bit in some of what he writes about. Everyone’s chasing the Maltese falcon with hopes of riches, and what do they do in that journey? They destroy each other, they lie in this book, they cheat, steal, they kill. I think he was writing about what wealth does to you. I think he was very much influenced by what the roaring 20s said about the human capacity for greed. And the fact that October 29 came around and smacked the hell out of the world. That was the stock market crash, that really signaled the misery period of the Depression. And he doesn’t really get into that, but he does deal with the notion of greed. I bet you that when October 29 hit, if he wasn’t on a ledge, I bet you he was saying, “See, I told you. This was coming.”

Sarah Harrison 16:36
Let me ask you this, too, because this came up in Red Harvest. Carolyn and I talked a little bit about the idea of this being an American thing happening. Carolyn brought up Hemingway and his writing style. If you’ve been listening or following our podcasts, Red Harvest came almost out of nowhere. Bam, it feels totally different. A completely different vibe. And that came up in our offline discussion. Like, this is modern and American. And noir arose out of America. Why do you think that is? Because we’ve read a lot of other novels, mostly British, that dealt with greed and that dealt with the Industrial Revolution. So what is it about noir that feels distinctly American, and how did this come about?

Mike Nugent 17:39
That’s a really good question. You know, Raymond Chandler, in his Simple Art of Murder, which is his how to write book, I think, he compared Dashiell to … I call him Dashiell now.

Sarah Harrison 17:56
You guys are close.

Carolyn Daughters 17:57
They’re tight.

Mike Nugent 17:58
He compared him to Hemingway, whose short stories were coming out in the 20s. And he said that he wasn’t sure if Hemingway influenced Hammett, or the other way around.

Sarah Harrison 18:13
That’s cool.

Mike Nugent 18:15
When you look at the precision of the writing, and the starkness of the scene, and the third-person nature of a lot of Hemingway’s writing, I can see that being the distinctive American influence that you’re thinking you’re looking at. Think about Faulkner and Hemingway. But, you know, you had Carl Sandburg back then, and you could see this in this book. It went from the pulpy kind of approach with exclamation points and cap letters to really precise writing. I don’t think you will see that elsewhere. I think American Noir is very popular in Europe in particular, but not a lot of Noir comes out of Europe.

Carolyn Daughters 19:21
With regard to fonts and italics and exclamation points and all of the visual symbols of something exciting, bad, scary happening in pulp fiction. Dashiell Hammett doesn’t really do that. He’s using language, and we’re figuring it out as we go. And we’re not in Sam Spade’s head, as we know. But we’re figuring it out as we’re reading. In the modern day, right, if we send a text message or a quick email to somebody, we include a smiley face at the end so they know how to interpret the thing.

Sarah Harrison 20:08
Smiley faces, I don’t know, they’re passive aggressive, really. I sound rude, but I’m gonna put a smiley here.so I don’t seem rude,

Carolyn Daughters 20:16
We’re using visuals to try to communicate something, because we want to make sure somebody gets it. And pulp fiction kind of hits you over the head in my limited experience with it. Whereas Sam Spade is just going to say it like it is, and Dashiell Hammett is not going to change the font and include the exclamation point. The form is elevated to art because it’s it’s not pulp fiction here. It’s really beautifully done at the sentence level, at the plot level, at the characterization level.

Mike Nugent 21:05
If Hemingway influenced Hammett, that’s where it came. The starkness of the language and the precision and the brevity. Sam Spade is not a talkative guy. He’s very short and to the point. The Chandler article or book I mentioned says that Hammett gave murder back to the kinds of people who committed for reasons not just to provide a corpse.

Sarah Harrison 21:33
He gave murder back to the murderers.

Mike Nugent 21:37
To real humans. And with the means at hand, not with hand-wrought dueling pistols and tropical fish. In other words, it became very popular. And it became very human, the art of murder. And I think that’s another part of the American influence. This was literature for the masses. It started out as pulp fiction and it grew from there.

Sarah Harrison 22:07
It was very non-aristocratic. So many of our detectives up to now have been people of independent means doing detective work on the side.

Carolyn Daughters 22:19
They spend their days trying to figure out which Dante folio to buy at the auction.

Sarah Harrison 22:24
Right. They’re not police, either. They’re not the police. They’re not the detective. Sam Spade is an actual detective as a job. So that was new.

Mike Nugent 22:34
And there’s no narrator, you know, Agatha Christie had or, or like, Dr. Watson, in the Sherlock Holmes books. You know, very pedantic, I’m telling you what the mystery is all about. And that is part of that elitist, aristocratic approach to the art of writing.

Sarah Harrison 22:56
Yeah, you made that that point back in our notes. So, we do circulate some notes beforehand.

Carolyn Daughters 23:03
Some notes, a couple pages.

Sarah Harrison 23:05
Twenty, twenty-five pages, whatever. And I loved reading your notes, and you mentioned the third person. The only one I could think of that maybe was in the third person was the Father Brown mysteries. Am I remembering this right?

Carolyn Daughters 23:25
Our third-person books have been The Mystery of a Hansom Cab, The Big Bow Mystery, The Innocence of Father Brown, Trent’s Last Case, and Whose Body from Dorothy Sayers. They all feature a third-person narrator. And then two books, A Study in Scarlet and Bleak House, had a first-person narrator and a third-person narrator

Mike Nugent 23:51
Yes. And Agatha Christie does that sometimes as well. And I think that brings the writing down to the human level. It brings it down to the normal man and woman on the street. And you see in addition that the brevity is also very human. I hope I’m not getting too far into the “tricks” discussion.

Sarah Harrison 24:18
No, there’s no real order. Just go for it.

Mike Nugent 24:27
Hammett wrote in a way that forced you to read what he was writing. When I went back to reread The Maltese Falcon, I was struck by the use of the word “eyes.”

Sarah Harrison 24:42
Yes. That was so brilliant that you brought that up.

Mike Nugent 24:46
I was so excited. I was so bothered by it. Because at first thought it was off putting, it’s shattering. That’s not normal. But what he was doing through that technique was forcing you to look at the humans in the room. And the room was always claustrophobic in Dashiell Hammett’s Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade’s living room is also his bedroom, and you also see that in the movie. There are a cramped hallways. Rarely do you see any street action even though Chandler also said, “Hammett wrote about Mean Streets.” Well, not in this book.

Sarah Harrison 25:23
Mean bedrooms/apartments.

Carolyn Daughters 25:25
Sam Spade has one of those wall beds.

Sarah Harrison 25:28
It’s a small studio apartment.

Carolyn Daughters 25:31
This is not some Friends television show-sized apartment. This is a tiny little space.

Mike Nugent 25:36
Yes, and you’re all cramped, all the characters. And you, because you’re in the room. You’re reading the eyes, you’re reading the face, you’re reading the emotions, the expressions.

Sarah Harrison 25:50
Well, it was so interesting that you brought that up, though. That’s one thing I love talking to you and Carolyn about. As you’re writers, you can think about these writing techniques, where as a non-writer, an engineer-type person, I think about whether I’m immersed or not in the story. And I was definitely immersed. It was a page-turner. So when you bring up things like “eyes” was the most repeated noun.

Mike Nugent 26:19
There are 250 references to eyes in The Maltese Falcon. It’s from the Nils Claussen article in Clues: A Journal of Detection, “Watchful Eyes and Smiling Masks in The Maltese Falcon.” I was stunned by someone doing that kind of research. But just let me read a few of the “eyes.” “Yellow gray eyes. His eyes were shiny in a wooden Satan’s face.” “He had a villain’s face, which had a pleasant blonde look.” And Effie Perine, “brown and playful eyes,” and that’s what she was. Brigid O’Shaughnessy, cobalt blue steel eyes. And sometimes they were cobalt blue prayers. And Lieutenant Dundy, his eyes went from hard green to warm green discs. And Caspar Gutman, dark and sleek eyes. The fat man’s eyes were “dark leaves and ambush behind pink puffs of flesh.” What a great sentence. And Joel Cairo, black eyes. My point there is, you really get immersed into the conversation and into what’s going on in the room. But you don’t know what’s going on, Carolyn, as you said during the Red Harvest discussion, you don’t know what’s going on in Sam Spade’s head. Same thing with the Continental Op. You don’t know what’s going on in his head except what he’s telling you. Because that’s all first-person to narration. I think that technique really worked this time around. When I was reading the book again, I was struck by how much I forgot about all these references to eyes, and how much it really brought me into room.

Sarah Harrison 27:57
And it was so interesting. A lot of times I feel like you depend on the facial expressions to know what’s going on. And yet in this case, you really couldn’t, because their facial expressions themselves were lies.

Carolyn Daughters 28:11
Everybody was an actor. Every single person.

Sarah Harrison 28:13
Everyone was acting all the time.

Carolyn Daughters 28:14
Probably not Effie. But I’m trying to think who else in this book was not an actor? Almost everybody was an actor.

Sarah Harrison 28:22
I feel like Tom Dundy wasn’t acting. But Effie wasn’t acting, and Sam Spade wasn’t acting when he was talking to Effie, but everyone else. I feel like you could come down in multiple places on this because it’s like, how are you interpreting these facial expressions that are being represented to you. So it’s a layer after layer. There’s the words, there’s the expressions, but you find out by the actions that a lot of those, in fact, were lies. It’s really interesting to try and figure out what is real.

Carolyn Daughters 29:02
It feels to me also that Sam Spade refers to Effie’s female intuition at various times.

Sarah Harrison 29:11

Carolyn Daughters 29:12
But really, I think he has a gut feel for some people. So when he meets Brigid O’Shaughnessy, he can look into her eyes and listen to her woeful tale and all of her emotion. But he sees through it. I think he has a gut sense that she’s not necessarily the real deal. I thought, Okay, your gut feel is actually really similar to whatever you’re calling this female intuition that Effie has.

Sarah Harrison 29:43
So that’s interesting. I didn’t think about that till you brought that up right now. From the beginning, it does seem that Sam Spade was on to Brigid that she wasn’t genuine. But I think he wanted her to be. And so he’d come back to Effie and be like so what does your woman’s intuition say, and Effie was like, “yes.” Brigid, Miss Wonderly, she’s wonderful, you gotta save her, you gotta help her. Which is what I think Sam Spade wanted the truth to be. But the truth was that she was a total psychopath.

Carolyn Daughters 30:19
Spoiler alert.

Mike Nugent 30:19
There’s one section where Sam Spade is first reading Brigid. And it goes as follows: “Spade stood behind beside the fireplace and looked at her with eyes that studied, weighed, judged her without pretense that they were not studying weighing, judging her.” What a great line. Did Sam Spade know? I genuinely think he was puzzled, but I don’t think he knew what Brigid was up to. But the way the writing goes, again, Brigid’s eyes, she’s coming, her eyes are lowered, she flutters up her eyes to entrap him into her wiles. I think it took a while for him to wake up.

Sarah Harrison 31:00
I think there’s this dichotomy that I have certainly run into my life, I would imagine it’s part of the human condition. You guys can tell me if I’m wrong here. It’s reality as you want it to be, and reality as you suspect that it actually is. And I think that’s what he’s dealing with here. And the kind of person he wants her to be and the kind of person she really is. And I think he knows it in his heart of hearts. And there’s this internal battle throughout the book on where he’s gonna land on that.

Mike Nugent 31:35
Yeah, it’s almost like they’re dueling. All of his acts are not physical. He’s very atypical in terms of a private detective. All his acts are perceptual. His weapon, so to speak, is his observation. Early on when Archer was eyeing up Brigid when they were first meeting in the office, Sam Spade, Brigid, and Archer, you could see that Archer’s little brown eyes were appraising her, like you would appraise an object at an auction. Whereas Sam Spade was looking and judging. And who dies by being misled by Brigid? Archer. And I won’t reveal the story until we need to about who killed Archer.

Sarah Harrison 32:31
Anytime. Just throw it out there. There are a bunch of spoilers on this podcast.

Mike Nugent 32:35
Brigid did it.

Carolyn Daughters 32:37
Brigid did it!

Sarah Harrison 32:37
Brigid did it! Total psychopath.

Mike Nugent 32:39
And Miles Archer. He’s shooting from miles away. I maybe reading too much into it.

Sarah Harrison 32:44
No, I loved your name interpretation. It totally was new to my thinking. And then I felt like a dummy by not noticing.

Mike Nugent 32:51
He couldn’t notice what was in front of him. He couldn’t even see what was far away. And he paid for it with his life.

Sarah Harrison 33:00
I think Sam Spade did the same thing as Archer. But he buried it inside a more holistic appraisal. Like Archer’s just like, look at this little hot thing that came into my office. Whereas Samp Spade is like this is a totally hot thing that came into my office. Where does this fit into the holistic context of what’s going on? I think that’s part of Spade’s conflict.

Carolyn Daughters 33:29
Archer can’t see that Brigid is dangerous.

Sarah Harrison 33:31
Yeah, he just saw the one note. But Spade is like, this is a total thing that I want, and this is potentially the most deadly thing I’ve ever encountered.

Carolyn Daughters 33:41
Sam Spade tells her at one point, we knew you were lying, but you paid us enough money that we didn’t care. Even Archer knows she’s lying. I mean, ostensibly assuming Spade is summing up what he and Archer both felt.

Sarah Harrison 33:56
He said it was worth it.

Carolyn Daughters 33:59
But Archer is really under estimating the amount of danger that she is to him, to his well being, to the detective work he’s about to do.

Mike Nugent 34:14
Sam Spade looks at Brigid like Archer did. And I think the word “appraise” was even used in the description. And that’s when he said, I’m not playing the sap for you. He snapped out of it.

Sarah Harrison 34:30
He has watched a string of dead bodies in her wake. I feel like it’s pretty strongly implied that Jacoby was probably in love with her. Thursby was certainly in love with her. These guys are all dead, and they were willing to die for her. They were willing to. She had sucked them all in.

Carolyn Daughters 34:50
Archer, wrong place, wrong time.

Sarah Harrison 34:52
He was unnecessarily willing to die. But he was sucked in.

Mike Nugent 34:55
In that scene where he’s confronting Brigid, you know, for the first time he actually says something, that’s emotional. He says to her, “This is good coming from you. What have you given me besides money? Have you given me any of your confidence? Any of the truth? Any help in helping you? Haven’t you tried to buy my loyalty with money and nothing else? Well, if I’m peddling it, that is the Maltese falcon, why shouldn’t I let it go to the highest bidder? He kind of lets it out. His first genuine moment is where he says to her, you didn’t come back to me. You were an actress, and you were very good one. And that’s how you got this far. And she says, What else can I give you? My body? And he says, I’ll think it over. What, a hard line.

Sarah Harrison 35:54
I love that scene.They’re talking about money, but she was the lowest bidder. She would rather pay with her body then with actual money. She’ll keep the money. She’ll give you the body, but she’s keeping the money. When Cairo comes in, he’s like, I’ll give you $5,000. What? And Gutman’s like, I’ll give you $10,000. I don’t know what she offer, something like $200, something lame, super lowball. And then she acted all persecuted about it. She was something else.

Carolyn Daughters 36:24
Because she was used to getting her way with her feminine wiles. She’s the femme fatale. She’s used to being able to play men who don’t understand how dangerous she is.

Sarah Harrison 36:35
It’s crazy to be that dangerous, honestly. You brought up another thing that I want to poke at a little bit. The Sam Spade satan face. His wooden satan face. He’s this tall, giant, six-foot satan, who’s just kind of rough and gruff, and yet he’s portrayed as this complete ladies man. He can basically get anyone into bed. Where did they come from? What is his attraction? Is this Hamlet’s conceit. What is going on with Sam Spade? Is this believable? Maybe I’m just thinking the wrong thoughts about a satan’s face, but I’m not seeing it.

Carolyn Daughters 37:24
I’m thinking like devious as sort of devilish as sort of charmingly devilish.

Sarah Harrison 37:29
Hammett describes him like a V all the time. His chin is like a “V,” his mouth is like a “V.” What is happening with Spade?

Mike Nugent 37:38
It all spells “V” for “villain.” I think Effie, his secretary, was the one person in the book who really saw him for what he was or how he was. And she gave it to him. I couldn’t figure out the closing with her, where she’s really pissed off at Sam Spade for turning Brigid into the cops. She couldn’t believe it. Her heart was broken. What I’m thinking is that finally her eyes saw what was in front of him. He was a blonde Satan. And I think she realized it. That’s why she was out so angry at the end. This guy really was bad. Not bad, but a blonde satan.

Sarah Harrison 38:32
Oh, that’s fascinating. I came down totally on the other side. That’s why I love talking to you guys. I thought Effie was shook that she finally saw that Miss Wonderly was this complete psychopath. I feel like Effie was completely taken in. I got the intense feeling — and you guys tell me what you think — I got the intense feeling that Effie has been in love with Sam for years. She seemed very jealous of Iva. Yet she was taken in by this raw, beautiful vulnerability of Miss Wonderly. Sam Spade doesn’t tell Effie until like the last three sentences of the book that Wonderly shot Archer. She’s starting from a point of his betrayal of this wonderful person. This wonderful person was a terrible person. I don’t think you can get out of it thinking that Wonderly was a good person.

Carolyn Daughters 39:35
The way I took it was that Effie is seeing that nothing is sacrosanct with him. If you cross this line with Sam Spade, no matter who you are, he will turn you in. And I think on some level Effie maybe thought she had a special place in his heart and Brigid O’Shaughnessy had a special place in his heart. She realizes that anybody is fair game, anybody can be turned over to the police by Sam Spade. I think it shook her.

Sarah Harrison 40:13
That’s interesting. Maybe I’m alone in this, but I thought Sam was right. Sam was totally on point, even though it tore his heart out. And he wanted reality to be different. I felt like he was strong enough to actually realize she might kill him tomorrow. He knew she wasn’t in love with him. And he wanted her to be, but she wasn’t. I feel like he would never turn Effie in. Effie is his solid.

Carolyn Daughters 40:40
I think he would not. But I think Effie at the end is asking how deep is his loyalty to me. That’s how I took the ending.

Mike Nugent 40:48
I think she saw him for what he was. Sam Spade, does he have a moral code. And I say no, because he didn’t do things for the right reason, because it was a good thing to do. He did things because it was what he thought he had to do to get by, to get to the next step two. He truly was an opportunist.

Carolyn Daughters 41:19
A pragmatist.

Sarah Harrison 41:20
I don’t think he was opportunist. At the end, he didn’t get anything. He only took the $1,000 and then immediately turned it over, Oh, see, they tried to bribe me. He didn’t walk away with anything or try to sneak anything out of that. I felt like his whole money conversation was just a ploy to find out who is this Brigid person? Is she a total liar? Or is she someone that I could potentially be with?

Mike Nugent 41:55
In the end, he turned her in, not because she killed Archer. Not because she deserved it, although that’s what he said to Effie.

Carolyn Daughters 42:04
That’s when he says.

Mike Nugent 42:06
Look, I’m a detective. She killed Archer. I had to do what I did. He did it because otherwise he was trapped. He was gonna get thrown in jail. And Brigid would take him down, He did it for survival, to get on to the next step. And I think you see this throughout his interactions with with moral decisions. It’s not whether it’s the right thing to do, or the good thing to do. That’s why I say opportunistic. Is this going to save me? Is this gonna get me through this mess so I can deal with the next person walking in that door. At the end, he’s waiting for the next client to walk in the door. Business as usual.

Carolyn Daughters 42:50
Yeah, he’s very business as usual. Archer was barely dead and Archer’s name is coming off the door.

Mike Nugent 42:56
I loved it.

Carolyn Daughters 42:59
I remember seeing that in the film. It has been several years since I watched it. And I think I watched the film before I read the book. And my mouth was, open, agape, like, oh, my gosh, what in the world?

Sarah Harrison 43:12
People even in the book had this expectation from the beginning. And I liked how it unfolded. Oh, your partner got killed! Oh no, you’re gonna get killed. And then you find out he never liked his partner. He was sleeping with his partner’s wife. The wife, Iva, thought that he might have killed her husband. And then Effie thought the wife might have killed Archer. You’re like, What? What is wrapped up in this mess?

Mike Nugent 43:41
There’s another book The Dain Curse by Hammett. It’s with the Continental Op, investigating the Dain Curse. And there’s a female client that the Op had saved three times, he saved her life three times. He also got her off morphine. And here’s what she says to him at the end of it: “‘You came in just now, and then I saw.’ She stopped. ‘What?’ he said. ‘A monster, a nice one. And an especially nice one to have around when you’re in trouble. But a monster just the same, without any human foolishness like love in him.’ Then she stopped. ‘What’s the matter,’ she asked. ‘Have I said something I shouldn’t?'” It’s almost like Sam Spade in this book. He was looking for love. He was looking for something from Brigid. And I find that interesting. And yet he was still in some ways the same.

Carolyn Daughters 44:46
To break through his cynicism, he was hoping she could prove that she might have some loyalty in her?

Mike Nugent 44:53
Yes, I think so. I think you know. They dueled the whole book. I think the primary conflict in this book is between them. It’s not chasing the MacGuffin, it’s who’s gonna win this battle of wits and deception and truth. She always acted. Spade always lied. But he didn’t act. He was always genuine. He says in the book, “My way of doing things is to throw a monkey wrench in things and see how people act, see what people do.” And that’s what he did throughout the book. Did he lie, or was he throwing monkey wrenches? Was he trying to test the people he was interacting with by changing up everything and making them then react in their new world?

Sarah Harrison 45:42
I definitely feel like he did act, though.

Carolyn Daughters 45:45
I do, too.

Sarah Harrison 45:45
There was a difference. And I was thinking about this, Mike, trying to figure out what in the world is the difference? Because I feel like with Tom and Dundy and them, he would put on a show. At the end of the book, the only time it started to go slow, was when he was putting on a show with Gutman and trying to manipulate that scene. Even with Iva.

Carolyn Daughters 46:18
He puts his arm around her.

Sarah Harrison 46:20
He controlled his sense of touch, he controlled the tone of his voice. But since she wasn’t looking at his face, he didn’t at all control his facial expression. I was envious, to tell you the truth, of the level of control, he could exert over different modes of expression. He did throw a monkey wrench into things, but at the same time, there was something in my mind more straightforward about him. And I don’t know if I can even articulate it or put my finger on it yet, but there was a difference between him and Brigid in my mind, where she was almost an onion of unending layers of lack of truthfulness,

Carolyn Daughters 47:01
She was Miss LeBlanc and Miss Wonderly and Brigid O’Shaughnessy. Peel back another layer, and we’d probably find out her name wasn’t even Brigid O’Shaughnessy.

Mike Nugent 47:14
I was thinking the same thing. And Casper Gutman. He may be one of the only people other than Sam Spade who’s not an actor. He’s not faking anything. He wants the damn Maltese falcon, and he’ll pay money for it. He may be a crook and palm a few dollars from the bounty you’re gonna get for finding the Maltese falcon. He may be cheap, he may be a common criminal, but he was genuine. Even at the end of the book, he says to Spade, you know what, plain speaking, that’s what I like. There’s no plain speaking in the whole book, including Gutman. And he wanted Spade to go with him on back to Constantinople so that they could find the real Maltese falcon. In some ways, I think Gutman was a worthy adversary of Spade. In some ways they’re almost the same.

Sarah Harrison 48:17
That was a contrast that I did feel like I could put my finger on a little bit better. Mike, you talked about Gutman’s mask, Gutman puts on a mask. And I resonated with that, because I have my own personal mask that I put on sometimes when I just don’t want to reveal anything. But Sam Spade, I did feel like, given a particular situation would potentially act one way and feel another. But that’s different than a mask. A mask is different. There’s concealment versus active perception and manipulation.

Carolyn Daughters 48:55
I always felt like I understood something about Sam Spade. I felt like I got the man. Whereas Brigid, for example, I don’t know who she is at her core.

Mike Nugent 49:07
Not at all.

Carolyn Daughters 49:08
She lied so easily and assumed so many different identities and personalities. Does she have a sister?

Sarah Harrison 49:19

Mike Nugent 49:20
I doubt it.

Carolyn Daughters 49:20
She’s a great storyteller, and she uses her feminine wiles and her strategic mind to wind people around her finger. And the person who ultimately doesn’t work with is Sam Spade.

Mike Nugent 49:40
That’s right.

Sarah Harrison 49:41
At the end, I felt a little bit like Sam Spade, and maybe even a little bit like Effie. Brigid has such great lines, and she really puts it out there. She says, you’re gonna kill something between us, don’t you see? I wanted it to be true, but I’m like, you are a cold blooded killer. She killed multiple men throughout this whole story and she’s just not a person I couldn’t believe if I wanted to. But I did want to

Carolyn Daughters 50:10
Think about Miles Archer, right. She finds out he’s dead, and she says, “Did he have a wife? Did he have children?”

Sarah Harrison 50:18
“I couldn’t live with myself if it was my fault!”

Carolyn Daughters 50:21
And meanwhile, she went into an alley and shot the guy.

Sarah Harrison 50:25
She lured him into the alley and killed him so that she could double-cross her partner.

Carolyn Daughters 50:30
Guys, we have so much left to cover, but I’m gonna pause us here, and we’re going to pick it back up in another episode. Mike, we’re hoping you’ll join us for our second episode.

Mike Nugent 50:44
Absolutely, this is a joy.

Sarah Harrison
Listeners, if you liked today’s episode, consider giving us a five-star rating wherever you listen to your podcasts. I believe we’re on every possible platform.

Carolyn Daughters
Including Apple podcasts and Spotify, really wherever you listen to Tea, Tonic & Toxin. Your review means the world to us, and it also helps increase our exposure so people like you who love the greatest mysteries ever written can find us and listen to us.

Carolyn Daughters
You can learn more about The Maltese Falcon on our website teatonicandtoxin.com. You can share your thoughts on our website or on Facebook @teatonicandtoxin and Instagram @teatonicandtoxin. And subscribe to the podcast so you never miss an episode.

Sarah Harrison 51:02
And we’re going to link Mike Nugent’s info in the podcast and share it on social, so look for that. Until next episode, stay mysterious.

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