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Oct 22

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
“I couldn’t be fonder of you if you were my own son.  But, well, if you lose a son, it’s possible to get another.  There’s only one Maltese Falcon.”The Maltese Falcon

The Maltese Falcon is a classic detective novel which was written in 1930 and holds up well to today’s reader.  It is a member of our top 150 book list and after reading it for the first time I can see why.  It is a wonderful short novel, around 200 pages, so it was a very quick read when I could find the time to read it.  It started out a little slow for me, and I kept picturing the movie with Humphrey Bogart in it which is why I think it took me a little while to get into the book.  Once I did get into it I did not want to put it down.  Hammett lays out the story in such a way that it transports you back to idea of the 1920s and being a private eye in a big city, where men could be tough and cops could be rough.  Hammet’s book is the start of the hard-as-stone private eye genre that as a reader I expect from a detective novel.  It is not as hard hitting as today’s writers like James Ellroy, but for its time I imagine it opened some eyes.

I really like how in the novel the main character, Sam Spade, is straight talking guy that does not mince actions or words.   However, Spade must follow his own code of honor when his partner is killed.  In the novel, you find Spade in all sorts of situations that point him out as a character that is short on convictions and seems to sell his services to the highest bidder.  It seems like you never know which way Spade will go, but that is what makes this novel so wonderful it keeps you guessing until the end.

Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon is a great read, but there are so many twists and turns in the plot.  If you have never seen the movie before then the novel will be a much better read because it will leave you guessing until the end.  I like the simplicity and creativeness that Hammett uses to tell his story.  It is as good a place to start if you want to get into the detective genre.  I give Maltese Falcon 3.5 shells out of 5.  It probably would have been even higher if I had not seen the movie before.
3 and a half shells

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