Name: Sam Spade
Location: San Francisco, USA
Type of Detective: Private
First Appeared: 1930
Memorable Phrase: “Don’t be too sure- I’m as crooked as I’m supposed to be.”
Although originally presented in Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 book The Maltese Falcon, it was the 1941 Warner Bros adaptation of the book, starring Humphrey Bogart, that familiarized the world with the steely, determined character of Sam Spade.
Running a detective agency in San Francisco, named Spade and Archer, private investigator Spade is a hardened, straight-talking and masculine figure, described by author Hammet as “Spade has no original… able to get the best out of anybody he comes into contact with, whether criminal, innocent by-stander or client.”
This is arguably one of the most valuable of Spade’s qualities as an investigator. His ability to seamlessly integrate within social circles – and crime circles – enables him to gather information and work from people in a plethora of situations. Effective communication skills and an affinity for working with people are cornerstones of successful detective work, fraud investigations, and intelligence gathering.
In addition, this detective’s eye for detail and determination – essential for effective detective work – combined with a steely idealism surging through his work, is perhaps what has made the character the archetypal detective. His image and personality go hand-in-hand with first-impressions of investigators.