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Definition of The Maltese Falcon from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

 

The Maltese Falcon

 
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a novel (1930) by Dashiell Hammett, in which he first used the character Sam Spade, a private detective (= a person who investigates crimes but is not a member of the police). The story is about people who commit murder to get a valuable statue called the Maltese Falcon. There have been two film versions, the first in 1931 with Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, the second (and more famous) in 1941 with Humphrey Bogart.