Tag Archives: Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon – Review

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The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammet
Age: Adult
Genre: Mystery

One of the original noir detective mysteries, the Maltese Falcon is a story about San Francisco detective Sam Spade and his partner Miles Archer. On a typical day at work, a young lady enters into the offices of Spade and Archer to ask for help bringing her runaway sister back home. What soon ensues is a tangle of lies, and deception that suck Sam Spade into a chain reaction of murder, greed and lust.

My first experience with Dashiell Hammett was The Thin Man, set in New York. I absolutely adored The Thin Man and was looking forward to reading The Maltese Falcon, particularly because the book is set in San Francisco. That being said, I was slightly let down by The Maltese Falcon. I did not find Sam Spade to be near as endearing as Nick Charles and I don’t think he was meant to be. Spade lied, he cheated, and he took advantage of women just to further his case. I didn’t connect with the characters at all and that took away from the book. Nearly all of the characters were terrible people who did terrible things for their own personal benefit, except for Spade’s secretary.  In typical Hammett form, there was plenty of witty rapport between the characters which this book a quick read. Since this wasn’t a who-dun-it type of mystery, there weren’t too many plot twists. I did like the story itself and the back story for the much searched for Maltese Falcon. I loved that it was set in San Francisco and for other local Hammett fans, there is a weekly Dashiell Hammett tour in SF, tracing all the sites mentioned in the book.

The Maltese Falcon
By Dashiell Hammett
Vintage Books, 1929
ISBN 0394717724
229 pages
Book 17 of 2011
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The Maltese falcon

The Thin Man – Review

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The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Age: Adult

Set in the backstreets of New York City during the 1930’s Depression Era, San Francisco detective Nick Charles finds himself dragged into solving a murder mystery concerning one of his former New York friends. With a dead body, a missing father, police and the mob and a very dysfunctional family all vying for a chance to gain Nick’s trust and confidence, will he be able to figure out whodunit?

Hammett’s writing is fluid, colloquial and highly entertaining with Nick and Nora’s sarcastic jabs and jests. Although this book is a stand-alone, it had the feeling of being part of a series, and that Nick and Nora were characters we were already familiar with. I have never started reading a book and felt so attached to the characters. The setting is utterly noir, set in speak-easys and apartment homes scattered throughout New York City. There are mobsters, police, conmen and more through the book. Not too mention all the alcohol consumed just by Nick alone. If one isn’t chain smoking, then they are sipping on a glass of whiskey. I found this entirely intriguing given that it took place during Prohibition when alcohol was banned across the United States. Although there were a number of twists in the book, I was able to figure out whodunit before the book’s end summation. I think this is one of those books where the animated and kooky characters more than compensate for a lacking storyline. There is more talking and quips going back and forth in this book than in a typical Gilmore Girls episode. (fans of GG know what I’m talking about…those 80 page weekly scripts.)

I may not like contemporary mystery novels, but this one I can really get into. 80% of it is because of the language. Words and phrases like “what a rotten guy” “what a mug he has” etc. Although there is one phrase, that for the life of me, I can’t figure out what it means.

Dorothy’s coming up. I think she’s tight.

What on Earth does “tight” mean? It’s used again in the book and confused me for a bit.

Dashiell Hammett is one of the most influential and profound mystery authors of the previous century. His works have been turned into popular movies: The Maltese Falcon with Humphrey Bogart, as well as the Thin Man movies. There is even a Dashiell Hammett tour in San Francisco once a week. It’s a 4 hour tour, for $10, and it follows in the footsteps of Sam Spade, the San Francisco detective from The Maltese Falcon.

The Thin Man
by Dashiell Hammett
Vintage Crime, 1933
ISBN 0679722637
201 pages


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The thin man

Teaser Tuesday (1/04/2011) – The Thin Man

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TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

#1 Grab your current read.

#2 Let the book fall open to a random page.

#3 Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page somewhere between lines 7 and 12.

#4 You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given! # Please avoid spoilers!

My two teasers

So after I said good-night to you and Nora, I met him there and we went to a lot of places, winding up in this place where I got the gun. It was an awful tough place.

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett