Samuel Spade’s jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth. His nostrils curved back to make another, smaller, v. His yellow-grey eyes were horizontal. The v motif was picked up again by thickish brows rising outward from twin creases above a hooked nose, and his pale brown hair grew down–from high flat temples–in a point on his forehead. He looked rather pleasantly like a blond satan.
It works, I suppose, for a detective novel. Readers are forced to pay attention to every little detail, in essence making them feel like armchair private investigators themselves, but until one gets used to it, it makes for a tedious read. Plus, The Maltese Falcon isn't exactly a "whodunnit" and readers don't really have a chance to figure it all out before Spade, so poring over tiny details is kind of a pointless exercise when all is said and done.
Still, despite the book's legacy working against it, despite the minutiae, it was an entertaining read overall. I appreciated the San Francisco setting as well as the twists of the ever-growing complex plot.