Maltese Falcon, The

Dashiell Hammett
A treasure worth killing for. Sam Spade, a slightly shopworn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics. A perfumed grafter named Joel Cairo, a fat man name Gutman, and Brigid O’Shaughnessy, a beautiful and treacherous woman whose loyalties shift at the drop of a dime. These are the ingredients of Dashiell Hammett’s coolly glittering gem of detective fiction, a novel that has haunted three generations of readers.


Reviewed: 2016-06-24
I picked this book up on a whim at a library sale. I'd heard of "The Maltese Falcon" but I'd never read it, and hadn't even seen the movie, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

I can't say that I loved it, but I certainly didn't hate it. It seems to me that the style of the writing was a bit off-putting. Maybe I'm just not used to reading books that were written in the 1920s and so the sentence structure and the style just didn't work for me.

The writing seemed a bit minimalist. Rather than describing everything in detail, Hammett described little in detail, a bit more generally, and still more hardly at all. He left a lot of the story-telling up to the dialogue, which isn't bad, but considering that there was a lot of slang used that I didn't understand, I found it hard to keep up with the way that the characters acted and thought.

Sam Spade for instance, whom I took to be very intuitive, seemed downright clairvoyant in a lot of situations. I didn't understand how he knew some of what he knew. It wasn't like we'd been told, so it was just left open, or attributed to his uncanny intuition. But despite this, I liked him, mostly. He's straight-forward in an unpredictable and sly way, and some of the things that he said and did, even in jest, these days would have had him arrested and half-way to prison before he could say "I plead the 5th." But still, he's got his own code of honor, and at times he could be very funny and endearing. He got off a few good one-liners that made me laugh out loud.

One thing that I had to ignore was his chauvenistic attitude towards women. He was constantly calling them sweetheart, angel, baby, etc. I had to keep reminding myself that it was the times, and that the book wasn't written yesterday.

The women in the book came off distinctly damsel-in-distressish, and I kind of had to ignore that too. Even the strong women in the book, Sam's secretary, Effie, and client, Brigid O'Shaughnessy, specifically, were distinctly made out to be members of an unsure, weaker sex that relies on men to take care of them. (Reminds myself: It was the times, it was the times, it was the times...)

The mystery aspect kept me wondering until the end, but was a little bit of a let down. However, certain aspects did surprise me, so it wasn't a complete loss. It just kind of dragged out too long. I was hoping for a wham-bang ending, and didn't quite get it.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and is worth reading as a classic crime thriller, but for me it took a bit of reminding myself not to be all offended. Would I recommend it? Yes. Is it a keeper? Probably not for me.
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@avanderpas completed #maltesefalconthe... on 2019-01-10
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