The Dain Curse. The Maltese Falcon. The Thin Man - who amongst us has not at least heard of these great detective novels? And if not the novels, the movies?

As a fan of the genre I had read the 3 Dashiell Hammett novels mentioned above and seen several of the movie versions. It was the enjoyment of these books and movies that originally led me to my first tour with Don Herron several years ago. My brothers Sutton and William knew Don personally so on a previous trip to San Francisco I contacted Don and my brother Sutton (or was it William) went on his Dashiell Hammett Tour.

Having been many years since reading the books and being on the tour, I decided it would be a good idea to get a refresher on Hammett lore. "Refresher" is certainly an understatement. Don Herron's 4 hours and 3 miles of weaving and winding though the streets and back alleys of the downtown and Tenderloin, stopping often to point out a building, tell a story or talk about Sam Spade and "Dash" would be more aptly referred to as a total infusion into that world and time period. Don's energetic, entertaining and thorough treatment of the subject would come close to allowing anyone who took the tour to then call themselves an "expert" in Hammett lore.

Ahhh... if it were only that easy. Don has spent 30 years studying, probing, investigating and loving the works of Hammett - and it shows!

Below is just a taste of the tour.

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With the old public library as a backdrop, Don sets the mood and introduces us to the world of Hammett and Spade

This is 620 Eddy Street where Hammett lived and created the Continental Op, the fat, middle-aged, and anonymous protagonist of 30 some short stories and 2 novels.

Here we enter the city blocks where several incidents in the Maltese Falcon took place.

Commemorative plaque at 891 post street.


891 Post, where Hammett created Sam Spade.

This plaque in Burritt alley reads: "On Approximately This Spot, Miles Archer, Partner Of Sam Spade, Was Done In By Brigid O'Shaughnessy."

When showing this plaque on a previous tour Don said one of the participants, upon seeing and reading the plaque, exclaimed: "My god! You mean this is all true?!" The plaque makes no mention of the fictional nature of the statement. But still...

Don took us back into the alley to a likely spot where Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade, was bumped off.

While explaining the details of all this Don whipped out his "heater" and fired a shot at one of the participants. The man went reeling as the slug slammed into his chest - NOT! Don had fired a toy gun with a harmless plastic projectile. Hokey - but I must admit - effective, as it startled all of us.

Don wrapped up the tour with a stop in front of John's Grill at 63 Ellis Street. This is where Sam Spade asks the waiter to "hurry his order of chops, baked potato and sliced tomatoes" (because he's in a rush to go rescue Brigid O'Shaughnessy.) The restaurant is next to the back entrance of the Flood building which fronts Market Street. Because of the proximity of the two it is conjectured the offices of the Continental Detective Agency were mostly likely in the Flood Building.

Great tour. Thanks, Don!


Day 12 - FINIS