Scene Two is 580 McAllister Street, a key location in "The Whosis Kid," a fine tale in its own right and a prototype for The Maltese Falcon:
"My best bet was the corner of McAllister and Van Ness*. From there I could watch the front door as well as one end of Redwood street. ...
"The Whosis Kid came down the front steps and walked toward me, buttoning his overcoat and turning up the collar as he walked, his head bent against the slant of the rain.
"A curtained black Cadillac touring car came from behind me, a car I thought had been parked down near the City Hall** when I took my plant there.
"It curved around my coupé, slid with chainless recklessness into the curb, skidded out again, picking up speed somehow on the wet paving.
"A curtain whipped loose in the rain. ..."
* — Van Ness Avenue is just out of the picture to the right. Redwood runs parallel to McAllister behind number 580, home of jewel thief Inés Almad, the mastermind of the heist that triggers the action in "The Whosis Kid." The view here shows the approximate location of the shootout to which Hammett is building up in the passage quoted above.
** — San Francisco City Hall was behind me and off to the right as I took this picture, and I presume it's still there. Much of Hammett is an accurate topographical guide to the city.
© Peter Rozovsky 2010