Sam Spade is a fictional character developed by Dashiel Hammet. Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon, has as its protagonist the private detective Sam Spade. Edmund Wilson describes the character as formed by a recharge of “the old formula of Sherlock Holmes with a certain cold underworld brutality which gave readers a new shudder in the days when it was fashionable to be interested in gangsters” (Wilson). This essay argues that it is not just the identification with the complex world of gangsters, but the representation of Sam Spade as a complicated personality himself is what drew in readers then and now.
Hammet has cleverly developed the personality in such a way that the character is fully developed; there are elemental flaws in the character of Sam Spade and the person is not the usual detective of present times. Usually in detective novels the main story line is about the crime and the solving of it. The personality of the detectives who solve the crimes is not fully developed. It is not the case in this novel. The reader by the end of the novel will understand who Sam Spade is as a person. Unlike other characters such as Poirot or Holmes, there are not multiple stories to enlighten the reader on the character of Sam Spade.