Hammett: Gutman’s Daughter Preying on Minds

I was just mentioning to Bill Arney that our days of hanging out in San Francisco bars between ten and twenty years ago was a Golden Age, and that I said so at the time. Golden Ages don’t slip past me unnoticed.

Bill agrees: “Yeah, it was a Golden Age. We had cheap food, reasonable rents (to a point), and lots of dive bars. Regular people could afford to live in San Francisco, as long as they weren’t trying to save for retirement.”

But he also mentions lingering thoughts on the issue of whether or not Gutman’s daughter Rhea and Wilmer Cook might be the same person. Bill commented on the issue before, but he’s still thinking about it today. Hey, who isn’t?

“I still hold those opinions,” Bill says. “Spade would have seen through such a disguise, don’t you think? And wasn’t Wilmer with Gutman and Cairo while Spade was dealing with Rhea?

“But the whole discussion does pose the question, which is what the hell was up with Rhea Gutman to begin with?

“Why was she even IN the novel?

“It’s like Hammett thought he would do something with her, and then thought better of it but forgot to remove her from that one scene.

“I know that makes no sense.

“Hammett wouldn’t have done that, either.

“Still. . . .”

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