Maltese Falcon Society

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The Maltese Falcon Society is an organization for admirers of Dashiell Hammett, his 1930 novel The Maltese Falcon, and hardboiled mystery books and writers in general. Founded in San Francisco in 1981, the organization is no longer active in the United States; however, a chapter in Japan has been active continuously since 1982. The Japanese branch of the society presents the Falcon Award, Japan's highest honor in the mystery field, to honor the best hardboiled mystery novel published in Japan.


The Maltese Falcon Society was founded in San Francisco on May 20, 1981[1] by literary historian and biographer Don Herron[2] and private investigator Jayson Wechter.[3] The society's first meeting was held at John's Grill,[4] a restaurant where Dashiell Hammett ate and which he featured in The Maltese Falcon. The speakers at that first meeting were David Fechheimer, a Hammett researcher and private investigator, and E. Hoffmann Price, a pulp fiction author.[5]

The society opened chapters in New York[6] and Japan.[1] By 1982, the society had 110 members in San Francisco, 55 in Japan, and 50 in New York.[7] As its official toast, the society adopted the one used by Sam Spade in Chapter 2 of The Maltese Falcon: "Success to crime."[1]


William Nadel of the New York chapter conducted a Dashiell Hammett/Thin Man walking tour of Manhattan.[6] Founded by mystery writer Jiro Kimura,[8] the Japanese chapter produced a newsletter called The Maltese Falcon Flyer ten times a year, and in 1983 began to present the annual Falcon Award. Co-founder Herron began to conduct the Dashiell Hammett Tour in San Francisco, the longest running literary tour in the United States.[9]

The San Francisco chapter meetings heard presentations by mystery novelists Julie Smith, Charles Willeford, Stephen Greenleaf, and Joe Gores. Other speakers included Hammett biographers Diane Johnson and William F. Nolan, bounty hunter Tiny Boyles, people who knew Hammett including Jerome Weidman, and coroners, crime reporters, FBI agents, and bail bondsmen. The San Francisco chapter also staged special events, such as a "shootout" conducted at the 1981 Marin Designers Showcase in Mill Valley, California, which resulted in the police being called.[10]

The New York chapter became inactive in the late 1980s. The fifth anniversary meeting of the San Francisco chapter was held May 27, 1986, on the 92nd anniversary of Hammett's birth, and it was the chapter's last. The author's daughter Jo Hammett was the final speaker.[5]

By 1990, only the Japanese chapter of The Maltese Falcon Society was still active. In 2006, the Japanese chapter produced a large-format softcover book in Japanese, The Complete Maltese Falcon Flyer 1982-2006, which includes the first 250 issues of the newsletter with new introductions by Don Herron and other writers. In 2009, with about 90 members, the Japanese chapter continues to hold meetings in Tokyo and Osaka, to produce The Maltese Falcon Flyer, and to present the Falcon Award.

Falcon Awards[edit]

The Falcon Award is awarded by the members of the Maltese Falcon Society of Japan for the best hardboiled novel published in Japan. The winning author receives a certificate of merit and a falcon sculpture crafted in wood.


  1. ^ a b c [1] Archived November 18, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Shadowing Sam Spade". The New York Times. October 25, 1981. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  3. ^ "The society that detects the mystique of mysteries" by Bethany Korwin-Pawlowska, Oakland Tribune, October 23, 1981, pp. C-1, C-5
  4. ^ "Maltese Falcon Society: Mystery lovers in spades", by Mike Hudson, Oakland Tribune, May 26, 1981, p. C-4
  5. ^ a b The Dashiell Hammett Tour: Thirtieth Anniversary Guidebook. By Don Herron. San Francisco: Vince Emery Productions, 2009. Page 199.
  6. ^ a b Herbert Mitgang (June 25, 1981). "In footsteps of 'Thin Man'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  7. ^ "Ryan's Dope" by William H. Ryan, San Francisco Appeal to Reason, v. 1 n. 4, 1982, p. 10
  8. ^ "Sachinosuke Terada". Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  9. ^ "Up and Down These Mean Streets | The official website of Don Herron". Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  10. ^ "Marin Showcase opens with a bang" by Tony Lewis and Jorie Parr, Mill Valley Record, September 16, 1981, pp. 1, 3

External links[edit]