Richard Layman (who knows what he's talking about) posted this response he'd sent to The New York Times, when I a bit lazily posted the link to the negative review of Joe Gores's Spade & Archer.
To the Editor:
Regarding David Gates’s review of Joe Gore’s Spade and Archer I am reminded of Louis Armstrong’s observation—There’s some folks, that if they don’t know, you can’t tell ‘em.
Spade and Archer, has at its center the ethos and the professional habits of the private detective, like the masterpiece that precedes it (which is not, to many worthy of an opinion, inferior to The Thin Man—where did Mr. Gates get that idea?). Spade acts according to a strict set of rules necessarily of his own devising—an existential quality that does not obviate a past. He is a careful observer: people’s physical characteristics, their clothes, and the places they frequent are vitally important to him in his work. He inhabits a real world of San Francisco in the 1920s, reliably described.
Mr. Gates misses the point. To question Gores’s common sense because he suggests Sam Spade has a history is simply absurd. To criticize Gores for being overly precise in his descriptions is strangely illogical. To take him to task for using period language in a period story suggests a most unusual critical standard—even in the 21st century. To suggest that Spade lacked the time to read or listen to music defies comment. To express those criticisms in language dripping with vitriol is altogether repugnant.