One of my favorite characters in The Maltese Falcon is Kasper Gutman. I liked that he was affable yet dangerous, had cunning and intelligence, and in the end, could shake off defeat and consider it an adventure. He was also comfortable with his weight, and didn't keep him for dressing well. Here's a clip of him with Sam Spade in the movie:
I kept those qualities in his Greater Treasures analog, Cambridge Ramada. I needed a good buy (or at least one who was neutral) to offset my villains. Ramada is a private detective with an unusual specialty: artifacts and valuable items (lost stolen or simple greatly sought after). He's been on the trail of the Lance of Longinus for a collector, and that trail crosses Vern's. Here's their first meeting:
Mr. Ramada surprised me by having one of the more modest suites in the hotel, with a long couch and a large, sturdy chair. He needed it, too. I could live for a week on this guy—if my taste buds could handle that much blubber. He was either an early riser or Junior had called him before he started following me, because Ramada met us dressed in a casual outfit obviously tailored to compliment his girth. Maybe he'd planned to take Junior to the Country Club after he was done with me.
"Well," he said, not bothering to rise from his comfy chair, "this is not quite what we'd had in mind."
"Next time, send somebody less hygienic," I replied. "You should pour that bottle of cologne down the sink."
"Yes, why don't you do that while the dragon and I talk?" Ramada waved toward one of the bedrooms, and like a sulky teenager, Junior disappeared into it. "I'd offer you a seat, Mr.—?"
"Vern will do. What I really want are answers. Why'd you send Junior Detective Boy after me?"
"Junior Detective Boy," Ramada chuckled like he was trying to force it out of his throat and the roof of his mouth simultaneously. Maybe he was trying to sound like Sydney Greenstreet playing Kasper Gutman, but it came out like an asthmatic Beavis and Butthead.
"I hope you're not going to tell me you're looking for a black bird," I said.
Again the laugh. "No, nor will I say Peters is like a son to me. And I think you're suspicious enough of your client? She did not steal something from me, though it is true we are both after the same object. You are familiar with the Lance of Longinus?"
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