Originally Posted by Mike L
Getting back to the book (as opposed to films and radio series) .....
One thing I always found hard to swallow was the need for a "fall guy""
This is a central part of Spade's strategy. If he and Gutman can between them decide on a "victim", the police will accept it, and take the pressure off the others. It has to be part of the deal for handing over the falcon.
So, here we have Gutman - a notorious villain - and Spade - who is still himself a suspect in at least one of the murders, and we're asked to believe that the police (and subsequently a jury) will accept their word for who the real murderer is.
Doesn't sound very likely, does it?
Actually, it does. The "fall guy" scenario assumes less than honorable motives on the part of the police. I don't know how valid that assumption was concerning 1920s San Francisco, but I know that even today in many places many cases are miraculously cleared from the books when a suitable suspect arrives on the doorstep of the police department. It makes the records look good.