This is the first Dashiell Hammett book I've read and I was hooked instantly. If you are into a good mystery and noir crime this is for you. He's a wonderful writer and the characters are great!
I'm from the San Francisco area so it's a lot of fun to read about all these places that are so close by. If you get a chance and you're a fan, you should take the Dashiell Hammett tour of S.F. Find more info here: http://www.donherron.com/tour
OurMissBooks - reviewed The Maltese Falcon (The Best Mysteries of All Time) on
Helpful Score: 3
What a good book! If you've seen the movie it will be hard to get Bogart out of your mind, but if you focus you can do it. The writing is so original and witty, and it sent me to the dictionary more than once! I recommend it!
Very carefully plotted tale of double-crossing, intrigue, violence, and hope of riches. A long, hard look at the seedy underside of life. It's one of those books that you simply must read if you're a fan of the detective genre. Just be aware that none of the characters are particularly sympathetic (everyone is described in very vivid and negative terms, including Sam Spade) and Spade's "solitary code of ethics" are more likely to get him called a heartless bastard than a hero.
Sam Spade, private eye, is an experienced detective whose adventures in this novel involve a statue known as the falcon and a group of people competing the obtain it. A beautiful woman named Brigid enlists Sam's help which leads him into the search for the falcon. His partner is murdered, a man assisting the woman is murdered and more die before Sam untangles the mystery. The novel is interesting as it shows the reader the language and mores of the time and actions of people living in that period. As one reads the novel, it is important to remember that it was first published in 1929 by an author who was born in 1894. Fun read!
I struggled with how to rate this because 1. I don't want to cast shade on an undisputed classic detective novel that many consider to be one of the best books of the 20th century, especially since 2. The "hard boiled" detective novel isn't a genre that appeals to me. In fact, I only read this because Erik Larson, an author I admire, told the New York Times it's his favorite book.
With that said, however, I feel that any great book is simply a great book, regardless of the genre, and I didn't think this one was great. Here's why:
1. Stilted, awkward prose: I initially chalked it up to the fact that sentence structure and word usage were different in 1929 than they are today, but why can I read Tolstoy from 1877 and feel like he's a close personal friend whose train of thought is just like mine?
2. Insulting sexism: Today, Sam Spade would never have gotten mixed up in the whole Maltese falcon debacle because he would have lost his business years earlier as a result of a sexual harassment lawsuit. Apparently, any woman will sleep with him; he's completely irresistible; and they are very easy to manipulate, so they all do his bidding regardless of how he treats them.
3. Lack of character development: The characters all seemed one-dimensional, not fully formed. I would have liked little glimpses into how they ended up in the situations/lives they were in. They seem to have dropped onto the earth as full grown amoral adults with no families or home bases. They just travel around looking for the falcon and killing anyone who gets in the way with no remorse.
4. Disappointing ending: The ending fizzled for me. It was all for nothing. The falcon was fake. Lots of people died and no one even remotely seemed to care. No one, least of all Sam Spade, seemed to have learned or grown from the experience.
I don't think you need me to tell you that Dashiell Hammett could write! What I loved about the book is that the movie follows it very faithfully, yet, somehow, I never DID understand the plot from the movie. Yet the dialog, and each "scene", you can see in your mind's eye as you read, because you've seen the movie so often. The plot is very clear in the book, however, so something must have gotten left behind in making the movie...
A classic mystery story full of twist and turns, action, romance, and betrayal. The prototype for all mystery/detective tales to come.
I really enjoyed the skillful work of the actors on this audio cd. Absolutely fantastic! Top notch. A must read if you enjoy mystery crime capers.
While I was interested enough to finish this book, I really wasn't all that interested in the characters. The sparse writing style left me completely unconnected to the characters, and it read more like a play than a novel. Interesting dip into the pulp fiction genre, but I really think this is just not my style.