Friday, October 2, 2009

Hammett First Edition: The Adventures of Sam Spade

Last week we looked at the first printing of the Dell Mapback A Man Called Spade. Well, here's the true first edition of that collection, in Bestseller Mystery No. 50, published by Lawrence E. Spivak in 1944. Only the first three stories feature Spade. The fifth and sixth on the list were omitted from the Dell Mapback.

Too Many Have Lived, from The American Magazine Oct. 1932
They Can Only Hang You Once, from Collier's Nov. 1932
A Man Called Spade, from The American Magazine July 1932
The Assistant Murderer, from Black Mask Feb. 1926
Nightshade, from Mystery League Magazine Oct. 1, 1933
The Judge Laughed Last, from Black Mask Feb. 1, 1924 (as Night Shots)
His Brother's Keeper, from Collier's Feb. 17, 1934

From the Introduction by Ellery Queen:

Meet Sam Spade.

Meet the rough, tough dick of THE MALTESE FALCON.

Meet the man with the V-for-Victory face who looks like a blond satan; the man who hated his partner's guts but who tracked down his killer; the man who believes it's bad business to let a killer get away with it, no matter who gets hurt, even if it's the woman you love.

Meet the private agency detective whom Casper Gutman (The Fat Man) called wild, astonishing, upredictable, amazing - a most headstrong individual who's not afraid of a bit of trouble - an uncommonly difficult person to get the best of - a man of many resources and nice judgment; a man who can mix Bacardi, Manhattans, and knockout-drops, and still land on his feet right side up; who is a son of a gun when it comes to plain speaking and a fair understanding; whose dialogue can telescope to two words, the first a short guttural verb, and the second "you"; who can play both ends against the middle, have his pie and eat it, outwit, outfight, and outbluff, whichever way the cards fall.

Meet that rough-and-tumble operative who is most dangerous when his smile flickers with a dreamy quality; who hates to be hit without hitting back; who won't play the sap for anyone, man or woman, dead or alive; who can call a $2,000,000 rara avis a dingus and who, when asked in the latest movie version what the heavy lead falcon was made of, answered: "the stuff of dreams."

Meet the wild man from Frisco who always calls a spade a spade.

Meet Sam.

Spivak reissued the collection under a new title in another digest, Mercury Mystery No. 131 in 1949. On the back it says:

This collection, containing the only three Sam Spade stories ever written, plus four other Hammett "specials," was first published in 1944. But not enough copies were printed. This new, complete edition is designed to accommodate the thousands of disappointed Hammett fans who got to their newsstands too late. Don't miss this one!

For a look at the Dell Mapback, A Man Called Spade, click here.


Chris said...

Sounds like a lot of people have been looking forward to this one. I'll be checking my library to see if they have it.

Evan Lewis said...

The Spade stories and most of the others appeared in the 1999 Black Lizard collection "Nightmare Town". If the Tacoma library doesn't have that one, they should be slapped.

Chris said...

Well, looks like you can hold off on the slapping. They have it. :)