It’s impossible to read this book without visualising Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade. I gave up trying to see him any other way after the first page. Hammett seems to have described Spade’s face as forming a V about twenty times through the book. You could make a guessing game of it – on page 56, which of Spade’s facial features forms a V – the wrinkles above his nose and eyebrows?All V’s aside this book is excellent . All the clichés it has spawned in the 70 years since it was published haven’t dampened its effect. On every page Spade earns his place as one of the great detectives. He is a hard man to define. You want to think that he is essentially good – and maybe he is, if the money right.