Study Guide

The Maltese Falcon Chapter 2

By Dashiell Hammett

Chapter 2

Death in the Fog

  • A telephone rings in the darkness. Once. Twice. Three times.
  • Spade picks up the receiver: "Hello…. Yes, speaking…. Dead? … Yes…. Fifteen minutes. Thanks." (2.2)
  • Spade slowly and meticulously rolls himself a cigarette, gets dressed, and takes a cab to Bush Street.
  • Walking through a dark alleyway, Spade finds himself beside a 10-foot high fence that has been torn down and is now dangling precariously off a steep slope. Fifteen feet down the slope, there is a flat boulder, on which lies the body of Miles Archer.
  • Tom Polhaus, the sergeant who had phoned Spade, explains what he knows so far about the situation: Archer was shot eight times with a .38 caliber Webley-Fosbery automatic revolver.
  • Tom asks Spade whether Archer was out on the job, but Spade only says that Archer was tailing Floyd, leaving out any mention of his client's identity.
  • Spade then leaves to phone Effie and ask her to break the news to Iva, Miles' wife. At home, Spade pours himself a tall glass of Bacardi.
  • After his third drink, the doorbell suddenly rings. It's 4:30 in the morning (a bit late for house calls, in our etiquette book).
  • Tom and Lieutenant Dundy have come to inform Spade that Thursby was also killed, and that Spade is a suspect (cue: dramatic music). Although they have no evidence against Spade, they will be conducting an investigation into the matter.