Edited by top Hammett scholar Layman, the 38th entry in Gale's splendid "Dictionary of Literary Biography" series offers everything you always wanted to know about The Maltese Falcon but were afraid to ask (and didn't know you should). Divided into six core sections ("Detective Days," "The Pulps and the Making of the Novel," "Serialization and Book Publication," "Critical Views," "Performances of The Maltese Falcon," and "Selected Publications of The Maltese Falcon") and numerous subsections, the volume gives a concise history of The Maltese Falcon's creation, which extends back through Hammett's days as a Pinkerton operative. The book highlights Hammett's cases as an operative and his transition from that career into writing. It also chronicles the story's initial serialization in the pulp magazine Black Mask and the alterations made when published as a novel. Further, there are reviews of the book plus critical views of Hammett's writings as well as details on the numerous film versions, especially John Huston's with Humphrey Bogart. This one-stop resource is a reference librarian's dream. Highly recommended. [See " `Let Us Talk About the Black Bird,' " p. 62.-Ed.]-Michael Rogers, "Library Journal" Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.