Arguably the unbeatable aura of the American private-detective in fiction belongs to one man and one work of fiction. The man is Dashiell Hammet and the work is "The Maltese Falcon". He was a man who just seemed to know things about life and knew how to captivate us when others failed. Where did Hammet get these wonderful ideas? Millions have seen the movie starring Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade but reading the book is a treat. When the author is as good as Hammet his reputation makes the careers for the actors rather than actors making the career for the author. Hammet was alcoholic and suffered from tuberculosis contracted when only 24 years old and just probably wore out before his time was due. He died at the age of 66.