The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

This past summer I read my first novel, The Thin Man, by Dashiell Hammett. I enjoyed his gritty writing style so I searched out another one of his books. My local library had a copy of The Maltese Falcon. I had heard of the novel and the movie, but never sought either one out. That’s a shame. Maybe not, since now I have the movie to look forward to.

But first, the novel. Sam Spade is a private detective. He and his partner, Miles Archer, are hired by a young woman who wants one of the detectives to follow a man who she claims has run away with her sister. The detectives don’t believe her story entirely, but money is money. And she paid a lot more than normal. Archer decides he’ll be the one to follow the mysterious man.

Later that night Spade learns that his partner is dead. Shot. Also, the man who Archer followed for the female client is, guess what, dead. This doesn’t look good for Spade. To make matters worse, he didn’t get along with his partner. However, he did get along with Archer’s wife. The police are suspicious. Is Spade connected to the murder or murders?

Now Spade has a real problem on his hands. He needs to track down the young woman who hired him. He does. However, he gets more than he bargained for. Yes the woman wasn’t completely honest from the beginning. Can she ever tell the truth and what is she hiding? And who is she hiding from?

This is a short novel. Yet, it isn’t short on twists and turns. And Spade is cool. He’s not the nicest guy. But if I was in trouble, I would want him on my side. He doesn’t talk much. Doesn’t always tell the truth. And he’s hard. Hammett never reveals what his characters are thinking, so while you see their actions and hear what they say, you don’t know why they are doing certain things. It’s brilliant really. It kept me glued to my seat so I could find out what was going on.

Lately I’ve been addicted to detective stories. This book did not ruin the genre for me. It’s making me crave more. This novel is on my 1001 books you must read before you die and I read it for R.I.P.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American living in England. When she isn’t writing, she’s traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs, or reading. Not necessarily in that order.
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22 Responses to The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

  1. nrlymrtl says:

    I read this book within the past year and really enjoyed it. It was my first Hammet book and I am glad it lived up to the hype. I like that Sam Spade is not a boyscout.

  2. bookboxer says:

    Hi, I haven’t actually read the book, I’ve only seen the movie. It’s a really beautifully shot film-noir delight, definitely worth watching if you get the time. I had sort of forgotten about it until I just stumbled across this post, so thank you for reminding me about this little gem. I think I’m going to have to go and get myself a copy of the book now…
    also, i love the idea of this blog by the way! Daisy

    http://bookboxer.wordpress.com

    • TBM says:

      I do want to track down the movie now. I really enjoyed the book and I’ve heard so many great things about the movie. I hope you are able to find the book. I highly recommend it. Thanks Daisy!

  3. Carl V. says:

    I have had this on my ‘want to read’ list ever since reading The Thin Man a few years ago. I too have not seen the film and although I’ve heard a few spoilerish things about the film I only vaguely remember them and suspect I would still enjoy the heck out of the book. I do like Hammett’s writing style. I have a couple of his short story collections that Mary bought me for Christmas last year and I need to dive into those as well.

  4. Lynne Ayers says:

    I’m sure I read this book … but now I’m wondering … I may have to search it out and take another look.

  5. Madhu says:

    I am trying to remember if I have read this too!! Sounds good enough to reread in any case :-0 Thanks TBM.

  6. Love DH. This is one of his best. The movie is brilliant as well.

  7. Caroline says:

    I love the movie but have still not read the book but I own it. I’ve only read one Dashiell Hammett so far, I still prefer Chandler, we’ll see if that will chnage after this this one. I guess not though. Nobody compares to Chandler.

  8. Jo Bryant says:

    Oh…that’s going on the to read list. Loved the movie but then I love HB !!! Just picked up Lauren Bacall’s ‘By Myself’ at a book fair on the weekend.I love her as well.

  9. The Hook says:

    Talk about pulp fiction! Great share!

  10. Geoff W says:

    I’m glad you liked it! I remember us discussing The Thin Man and how I had some issues with it, but how I really enjoyed the jaunty language. I’m told this is his best and maybe one day I’ll check it out.

  11. pattisj says:

    This sounds great! Thanks!

  12. zelmare says:

    Sounds good. Must find some of the books you’ve been reviewing… 🙂

  13. Novroz says:

    I never heard of this author before but it sounds good. The case looks very complicated for a short book.

  14. Vishy says:

    Nice review, TBM! Glad to know that you liked ‘The Maltese Falcon’ very much. Sam Spade is a really cool character. Hope you get to watch the movie too and like it. Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade really rocks 🙂 I have read a couple of Hammett novels after this one – ‘The Glass Key’ and ‘The Dain Curse’. I liked ‘The Glass Key’. I don’t know whether he wrote another Sam Spade novel. I think he didn’t. Wish he had. I have a collection of his Continental Op stories which I hope to read sometime.

    • TBM says:

      I’m hoping to read more by him. He has such a way of setting a scene without many words. I like his terse style. It in a weird way it adds so much more to his writing. I think he has two more books on my 1001 list, but I can’t remember the titles. The Glass Key rings a bell. Enjoy the stories.

  15. Fergiemoto says:

    It’s good to have cravings for more reading! Thanks for the review!

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