Study Guide

Effie Perine in The Maltese Falcon

By Dashiell Hammett

Effie Perine

Oh Effie. She's is Spade's devoted secretary, and what can we say? Shmoop definitely has a soft spot for her. She's one of the few downright honest people in the whole novel. She's down-to-earth, sensible, with a good head on her shoulders. Sam Spade needs a girl like that around.

In the opening scene, Effie springs to life in a single, simple sentence that perfectly captures her girl-next-door charm:

She was a lanky sunburned girl whose tan dress of thin woolen stuff clung to her with an effect of dampness. (1. 3)

Effie is shown as desirable, but not dangerous like Brigid. She is "lanky" (as opposed to Brigid's "pliantly slender" body), and "sunburned," suggesting a healthy, youthful glow that contrasts with Brigid's pale alabaster skin. Effie's warm brown eyes are "playful," and she wears a tan, woolen dress.

This minor detail of clothing is actually quite revealing. Unlike the green crêpe silk dress or the satin evening gown (in a shade of blue called "Artoise") that Brigid wears to enhance her seductive femininity, Effie's outfit is practical and the complete opposite of flashy.

Effie's loyalty to Spade is not only touching, but possibly the only healthy relationship that Spade has with any woman. Effie's the type of girl we'd want to have on speed dial to call whenever we're in a jam because we know we could always count on her and she would always have our backs.