The Big Man's Daughter by Gordon McAlpine

“Damn you, Fitzstephen! You’ve done it again!”

"Like the craftiest of Dashiell Hammett’s grifters, Owen Fitzstephen plays the long con: baiting readers with a story we think we know before slipping us a Mickey Finn from which we awake unsure of where we are and what is real. The Big Man’s Daughter is stunning. Fan’s of Hammett must not miss this multilayered, metaphysical adventure." –Jennifer Kincheloe, author of the Anna Blanc Mysteries

The Big Man’s Daughter (as Owen Fitzstephen)

The Big Man’s Daughter tells the story of 18 year-old Rita Gaspereaux, who is suddenly “orphaned” when her con-artist father’s illegal enterprise blows up around her. Alone and broke in San Francisco 1922, she must now navigate his criminal world, all the time haunted by tales of a black bird statuette reputed to possess otherworldly, wish-fulfilling powers.

Rita has learned much from her father about the dark fringes of society. But has she learned enough? Fortunately, she is not without her own resources. What helps her most to cope with the greed, cruelty, and deceit around her is her almost obsessive reading of fiction, particularly the novel she possesses (and is possessed by) at the time of her father’s death. This book-within-the-book, a source of escape and solace for the blossoming young con-artist, tells the story of another 18 year-old, a Dorothy G. from Kansas.

The two young women couldn’t be more different. But as the story proceeds their lives become entwined in unexpected ways. The haunting conclusion is breathtaking.


“Just as Hammett made imagined crime feel real, McAlpine makes metafiction mischief suffused with meaning; from the masterful Hammett Unwritten, to the too-wonderful-not-to-mention Woman with the Blue Pencil, and now the mesmerizing The Big Man’s Daughter, McAlpine’s novels prove as moving as they do dazzling.” John Huston’s classic 1941 film adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s The…

Read More

An ebullient mashup/revision/sequel perfect for knowing readers who don’t mind (spoiler) missing the Falcon yet again. –Kirkus Reviews

Read More

Owen Fitzstephen‘s book is called The Big Man’s Daughter, and it doesn’t really have a detective in it, but… Explaining one of his books is a bit like skiing about soup. This is really just the author playing fast and loose (and possibly avoiding lawsuits from the Dashiell Hammett estate) with The Maltese Falcon (again). Like, really…

Read More

“This arresting mystery from Fitzstephen (Hammett Unwritten) explores what might have happened to a minor character in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon. In 1922 San Francisco, cunning 18-year-old Rita Gaspereaux is at loose ends after her con artist father, Cletus, “known to some in the rackets as the Big Man,” dies in a shootout over…

Read More