The Maltese Falcon is Missing
SAN FRANCISCO — Call in the coppers, get Sam Spade on the case: The Maltese Falcon’s gone again.
a missing-bird caper reminiscent of the one that perplexed Dashiell
Hammett’s fictional sleuth, the owner of a landmark restaurant here is
offering 25 Gs ($25,000) for a replica of the famed Maltese Falcon
swiped from a locked display case over the weekend.
John Konstin, the owner of John’s Grill, a nearly 100-year-old
restaurant with a museum dedicated to the crime novelist, said the
purloined plaster statuette and 15 rare books by and about Hammett that
were also stolen are emotionally priceless.
statue had historical significance to this restaurant and to the city,”
said Konstin, as he sat in a dining room framed by movie stills and
Hammett mementos. “People came from all over the world to see that
bird. And we want it back.”
Hammett used to frequent John’s —
and the falcon has been housed since 1995 in a wooden display case just
upstairs from booth 21, where, as the story goes, he wrote parts of the
1930 novel that introduced readers to Spade, the womanizing,
“He came here a lot, he drank a lot, hung
out a lot,” Konstin said of Hammett, who died in 1961. “Sam Spade ate
here as well. One scene was set at the restaurant.”
Konstin, who has owned the replica falcon since 1994, wonders if it’s a timing issue: Hammett’s novel was published on Valentine’s Day. “Maybe that has something to do with the thief’s timing,” Konstin
said. “Maybe they didn’t do their homework and thought they got one of
the original statues.”