I read The Monks of Abbey Victoria to compare/contrast with the Maltese Falcon. I liked both pieces fairly well! (I've gotten my responses to the different topics in the wrong order, so I've gone back and put numbers to demonstrate.)
3. Monks was about a guy, Dale, who begins working at NBC network. Three of his coworkers put him through a few tests to see if they can trust him. Then, they offer for him to join their secret society. This secret society has a secret practice, which the main character begins to participate in. (I don't want to give away anything, so I won't actually tell too many little details!!!) Throughout the complicated tests and the big secret activity, the main character participates earnestly, but ends up being fired from his new job.
I liked the build-up of the mystery in Monks. The characters are developed well enough to give a good feel for the event. My only real "dislike" would be that I didn't want the main character to be harmed. Although I didn't agree with some of his choices, I felt that he really was lured/dragged into making those choices.
1. Compare/contrast... Monks and Maltese Falcon both have settings in large cities, although Monks takes place in a more modern time period. The reader is given enough information about the two main characters, while both authors take their time in that character development; a little at a time. These two characters are similar in that they both place a lot of trust in strangers. They are willing to take a chance on someone that they don't really know anything about (Sam Spade sets a lot on the line for Brigid O'Shaughnessy, while Dale Winslow puts it all on the line for his co-workers.)
As far as the length of each goes, I don't feel that either one could have benefited from being changed. Monks really couldn't have gone on for too long, without the rising action being wayyyyy monotonous. The big climactic point would've lost something if much more time was spent on the rising action. I think Maltese Falcon also ran just the right length. I would've started losing interest if Spade would have had too many more setbacks, but what was presented did help build appropriately. I liked both pieces; but if I had to pick, I'd say I liked Maltese Falcon better. I believe it comes down to my preference for the dark sexiness of the naughty good-guy.
2. Differences due to gender of author? I don't think in these two particular pieces, there were any major differences due to the author's gender. Both pieces were written by men, and the two main characters had enough differences that they weren't cookie-cutters of each other. Both authors developed very diverse characters within their works, and really made me feel like I was seeing the events unfold before my eyes. Both pieces did have some pretty shady or stupid ladies in them, but I think both authors were fair in also representing some of the men in some unflattering lights.
4. Thoughts, reactions, observations? I saw that Hammett wrote several books using Sam Spade for the main character. It makes me want to skip right to the last book to see if he ends up with Effie. If someone told me that the two hooked up but then broke up later, I'd be so disappointed! Sam sure could use a good woman like Effie to keep him on the straight and narrow. But their sexual tension is just luring enough that Hammet could use it for book, after book, after book! I guess that's one way to keep selling the series.