The Alibi: a Booked ezine

Issue 9, November 10, 2005
ISSN: 1715-9105

Watch BOOKED Investigates Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon (all times EST):

  • Saturday, Nov. 12, 8PM on ACCESS Television
  • Tuesday, Nov. 15, 12:30PM and 8:30PM, and Wednesday, Nov. 16, 4AM on BookTelevision
  • Friday, Nov. 18, 9PM, and Saturday, Nov. 19, 1AM, on CLT
  • Wednesday, Nov. 23, 7AM, 6PM, and 11PM on CourtTV Canada
Congratulations to Our Winners!

Congratulations to Cory of Alberta and Jamie of Texas!

Both correctly answered the question "What is the name of the main character in Greg Iles' The Footprints of God?" The answer was Dr. David Tennant. Cory and Jamie are both winners of advance copies of Greg Iles' new offering, Turning Angel: A Novel.

Keep watching The Alibi for more contests!

Greg Iles' Turning Angel Book Graphic
Writer Rap Sheet: Dashiell Hammett
Author Photo: Dashiell Hammett

Samuel Dashiell Hammett is recognized as the first master of hard-boiled detective fiction. He is the author of five novels (Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, Glass Key, and The Thin Man), over 80 short stories, a comic strip, and edited numerous screenplays.

Hammett brought a realism to the detective genre with his tough, uncompromising characters and journalistic writing style. His take on the private detective was informed by his many years working for the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Hammett's work is also marked by a dark, anarchic portrayal of the United States - a place where people are easily corrupted, where greed and violence are major driving forces.

Hammett started with the Pinkerton Agency at 21, where according to his long-time friend and lover, Lillian Hellman, he earned “the bad cuts on his legs and the indentations in his head from being scrappy with criminals". After working for years as an operative, Pinkerton sent him to Butte, Montana as a strike-breaker where he refused an offer of $5000 in exchange for the murder of Frank Little, an IWW union organizer. Little was later lynched, and although no one was ever charged, Pinkerton strike-breakers were believed to have killed him. After the murder Hammett left the Pinkerton agency and his political views became more radical.

Hammett’s relationship with his home country was a complicated one. He contracted tuberculosis while serving in the first World War as a stateside ambulance man, and at the age of 48 served in the second World War. In the 1930s, Hammett joined the Communist Party and was a vocal opponent of Nazism. By 1948 he was the vice-chairman of the Civil Rights Congress, an organization considered subversive by the FBI. During the infamous McCarthy era, he was called upon to testify at the hearings of four individuals. He refused and at the age of 57 was sent to prison for six months. After completing his sentence, he was blacklisted (as was Hellman) and became a target for the IRS, who claimed that he owed huge amounts in tax deficiencies. The State Department also kept his books off the shelves of overseas American libraries.

Hammett suffered from extremely poor health after the first World War. He had tuberculosis, was an alcoholic, and on occasion suffered from venereal diseases. Lillian Hellman cared for him from 1956 until he died penniless of lung cancer in 1961.

"Hammett wrote... for people with a sharp, aggressive attitude to life. They were not afraid of the seamy side of things; they lived there. Violence did not dismay them; it was right down their street. Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse ... He put these people down on paper as they were, and he made them talk and think in the language they customarily used for these purposes."

--Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder

Booked Television: November 12-23
Graphic: BOOKED investigates Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett ISBN: 0679722645

Published over 75 years ago, The Maltese Falcon is still considered one of the best crime fiction novels. How does it hold up under modern-day scrutiny? BOOKED experts delve into the world of the hard-boiled Sam Spade and meet a working private investigator.

In this episode, our host Fred Yackman is joined by:

Graphic: Booked Experts
Case Book: Mike Straiton, Private Investigator

Mike Straiton is a private investigator and former police officer. “As a police officer, I was trained with respect to interviewing and understanding people, and my policing career gave me a rounded life experience that has been invaluable to my work as a private investigator.”

When it comes to Sam Spade, Straiton clarifies a few things, “Relationships with the police in the early 20s and 30s was a bit more open. Police and private investigators could pass information on to each other without any consequences. Now, police are really restricted in the manner of information that they can provide to private investigators.” Issues of confidentiality, privacy protection, and identity theft are not a part of Sam Spade’s world, but they are a significant part of Mike Straiton’s. “I can’t broadcast or pass on information I obtain about a certain individual to anybody. As a private investigator I have to respect that privacy issue.”

“Investigating missing persons is called a ‘locate’. It’s very common – people will call up and say ‘I haven’t spoken to my father in forty years, I’d like to talk to him’, or ‘I’ve lost track of an old friend’. The only way private investigators would really get tangled up in investigating a homicide case would be if they are working on a locate and determine that the person has disappeared in suspicious circumstances.”

Mike Straiton Photo
Last Words

Coming up on BOOKED Television:

BOOKED investigates Howard Engel's Memory Book . Expert lineup for this show: Author, Howard Engel; Neurologist, Dr. Wendy Johnston; Crime Writer, Janice MacDonald; Police Detective, Jack Stewart
Check Broadcast Dates and Times

Look for the next Alibi – we’ll introduce you to writer Howard Engel, who will talk about his relationship with Benny Cooperman and his own experiences with alexia sine agraphia.

©MMV Reel Girls Media All Rights Reserved

Here are the upcoming books, in order, that our experts will be dissecting in the weeks ahead.
Get reading!


Memory Book - Howard Engel
Shock Wave - James O. Born
Cross Bones - Kathy Reichs
He Who Fears the Wolf - Karin Fossum

For more information about the booklist or upcoming shows, visit www.booked.tv

The views expressed in this ezine are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Reel Girls Media Inc.

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