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Spade, Sam. Sam Spade was created by Dashiell Hammett (Nick and Nora Charles, Continental Op, Secret Agent X-9) and appeared in four stories and story serials and one novel from 1929 to 1932, beginning with “The Maltese Falcon” (Black Mask, Sept. 1929).

Sam Spade is a private eye based out of San Francisco. He's one of the first and most significant hard-boiled detectives, although he lacks the smart mouth and wise cracks that Philip Marlowe made de rigeur for the genre and which are reflexive for the Bellem. Likewise, Spade is more seedy, unscrupulous, and unlikeable than Marlowe and later hard-boileds are.

* I'm including the Sam Spade stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of their historical importance. Neither Sam Spade nor Philip Marlowe invented the hardboiled detective genre--that was Race Williams' doing. But Spade and Marlowe popularized it and in so doing established it in the minds of writers, readers, and critics as a legitimate form of detective fiction. The mysteries in the Spade stories are appropriately grim, gritty, and seedy. I can't rate them very highly as stories because of Dashiell Hammett's colorless style and aversion to metaphor, simile, poetic images, and all the other devices of language that make fiction enjoyable. 

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