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The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
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The Maltese Falcon (1930)

by Dashiell Hammett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sam Spade (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6,354196615 (3.91)527
  1. 80
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (InvisiblerMan)
  2. 81
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Cecilturtle)
  3. 50
    Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (caflores)
  4. 20
    Bad Things Happen by Harry Dolan (BookGirlVL)
    BookGirlVL: A recent addition to the hardboiled US scene. The protagonist befriends the publisher of a mystery magazine called Grey Streets, which prints hardboiled short stories.
  5. 21
    The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: The two detectives have a key trait in common: dogged pursuit of the truth and the truth has many twists along the way.
  6. 21
    Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (InvisiblerMan)
  7. 00
    Maltese Falcon (Picador Books) by Richard J. Anobile (bks1953)
  8. 00
    Spade & Archer by Joe Gores (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Later prequel by another author
  9. 12
    The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (benmartin79)
  10. 12
    Britten and Brülightly by Hannah Berry (lucien)
    lucien: A great modern take on the noir genre in comic form. Berry is successful at both weaving a solid noir tale and having some good fun with genre conventions.
  11. 02
    Private Midnight by Kris Saknussemm (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Dark detective fiction, both radical for their times.
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» See also 527 mentions

English (184)  Spanish (5)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  Italian (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (194)
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
A classic of the genre. A novel so influential that you can't help but notice all the pop-culture references to it as you are reading. ( )
  kale.dyer | Mar 12, 2017 |

My top ten reasons why this Dashiell Hammett is one of the greatest crime novels ever written:

1. The Voice – Tough, Crisp hardboiled – the story isn’t told in first-person but certainly has the feel of first-person since we are so close to Sam Spade it’s as if we’re peering over the detective’s shoulder from first to last page.

2. The City – The buildings and streets in San Francisco have such a tangible presence, even today, after nearly 100 years, they still give Maltese Falcon tours.

3. Femme Fatale – Brigid O’Shaughnessy is the femme fatale. Her looks, her way of speaking, her cunning, her charms, her allurement– legions of writers of detective fiction have changed her name, her home town, color of her hair and eyes, but all you have to do is scratch the surface and there she is.

4. Outside the Law – Nobody likes a cog in the legal wheel or a grey flannel flunkey following orders. Sam Spade is anything but – an outsider to the police, district attorney and even his clients, Sammy is his own man, cracking the case in his own way, in his own time and even willing to get socked in the jaw by a police lieutenant or pulled in by a high ranking official to make it happen.

5. Tone – Sharp and crisp. If you read (and look) carefully, an entire world is disclosed, as for example: “Spade emptied the unconscious man’s pockets one by one, working methodically, moving the lax body when necessary, making a pile of the pockets’ contents on the desk. When the last pocket had been turned out he returned to his own chair, rolled and lighted a cigarette, and began to examine his spoils. He examined them with grave unhurried thoroughness.”

6. Violence – Nothing juices the action in a detective fiction more than cold bloody murder. An entire string of murders are featured here, all happening at the right time to accelerate tempo. Also, there’s a good amount of roughhouse, with the least likely man in the novel, Joel Cairo, getting beat up every time he turns around. Serves him right for thinking himself so refined and above it all.

7. The Color of Character – Dashiell Hammett set the gold standard here for writers of detective fiction. “The fat man was flabbily fat with bulbous pink cheeks and lips and chins and neck, with a great soft egg of a belly that was all his torso, and pendant cones for arms and legs. As he advanced to meet Spade all his bulbs rose and shook and fell separately with such step, in the manner of clustered soap-bubbles not yet released from the pipe through which they had been blown. His eyes, made small by fat puffs around them, where dark and sleek. Dark ringlets thinly covered his broad scalp. He wore a back cutaway coat, black vest, black satin Ascot tie holding a pinkish pearl, striped grey worsted trousers, and patent-leather shoes. His voice was a throaty purr.”

8. The Moral Code – As one character finds out the hard way, Sam Spade is a man of the high, uncompromising character. You will have to read the novel to find out just how high and just how uncompromising.

9. The Whole is Greater than the Parts – The Maltese Falcon has that special something that separates it from other crime fiction, even crime fiction of the first order. What is it? Hard to put your finger on it, but as millions of readers have discovered every time they pick it up, this is one doozy of a classic.

10, The Dingus – Ah, yes, the object of obsessive desire, the bird with all those long-lost jewels. Has there ever been a famous actor more closely connected with a famous object? And, yes, in many ways, the much sought after black bird adds a unique aesthetic dimension to this tale of noir.
( )
  GlennRussell | Feb 16, 2017 |
This is my introduction to classic hard-boiled detective fiction. Sam and Miles are rough characters from go, to demonstrate that heroes can be as lethal as the villains and an even match for them. Chapter Two has an incredible hook, and then it's off to the races. Sam understands very little about who is hiring him or why they think he's the best man for the job, introducing a layered mystery plot. He demonstrates his skill at taking things as they come, and so must the reader. Either Sam knows more than we do, he is figuring it out faster, or he is just really quick on his feet. Any of these interpretations works, but the last is well supported by the wrap-up. The fantastic battle-of-wits dialogue reminds me of Asimov but with a thick layer of emotion spread over it; there's nothing robotic about these characters. ( )
  Cecrow | Jan 3, 2017 |
I haven't had the opportunity to read many crime detective noir novels and this one was an interesting one to start out with. I've never seen the movie version so I honestly didn't know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's all macho men, witty dialogue, damsels in distress, stolen goods, and lots and lots of drinking. So honestly, why am I just now getting into noir novels?!? They seem right up my alley!! This was a fun, albeit semi slow paced introduction for me into the world of the hard nosed detective. I'll definitely be coming back for more. ( )
  ecataldi | Jan 1, 2017 |
A wonderful crime novel from the 30's. I've wanted to read this novel for many years now and finally got around to it and I am so glad that I did. I am a huge fan of noir films and this novel really made me think of that. Vivid story line with clear and interesting prose. Full of poignant imagery and great plot twists. ( )
  JessBass87 | Dec 2, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 184 (next | show all)
La audaz mezcla de realismo descarnado y sentimientos románticos, habitual en la narativa de DASHIELL HAMMETT (1894-1961), alcanza en EL HALCÓN MALTÉS (1930) su mejor plasmación. Una estatuilla con figura de halcón que los caballeros de la Orden de Malta regalaron al emperador Carlos V en 1530 ha sido objeto, durante más de cuatro siglos, de robos y extravíos. Cuando, tras mil peripecias, llega a la ciudad de San Francisco, un grupo de delincuentes trata de apoderarse de ella, lo que da lugar a conflictos, asesinatos y pasiones esacerbadas. A ello contribuye el detective Sam Spade mediante el empleo de la violencia más cruda y la creación de situaciones arriesgadas e imprevisibles, aunque siempre esclarecedoras. Basada en esta obra John Huston realizó en 1941 una magistral película protagonizada por Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor y Peter Lorre.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
 

» Add other authors (75 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hammett, Dashiellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angell, OlavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meier, RaymondCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
Quotations
The boy spoke two words, the first a short guttural verb, the second 'you'.
"People lose teeth talking like that." Spade's voice was still amiable though his face had become wooden. "If you want to hang around you'll be polite."
The boy repeated his two words.
Spade by means of his grip on the Levantine's lapels turned him slowly and pushed him back until he was standing close in front of the chair he had lately occupied. A puzzled look replaced the look of pain in the lead-colored face. Then Spade smiled. The smile was gentle, even dreamy. His right shoulder raised a few inches. His bent right arm was driven up by the shoulder's lift. Fist, wrist, forearm, crooked elbow, and upper arm seemed all one rigid piece, with only the limber shoulder giving them motion. The fist struck Cairo's face...
"I don't know where that damned bird is. You don't. She does. How in hell are we going to get it if I don't play along with her?"
Cairo hesitated, said dubiously: "You have always, I must say, a smooth explanation ready."
Spade scowled. "What do you want me to do? Learn to stutter?"
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Haiku summary
Yes, I'm guilty, but
I'll get free with female wiles.
Whoops, need a Plan B.

(Carnophile)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679722645, Paperback)

Sam Spade, Dashiell Hammett's archetypally tough San Francisco detective, is more noir than L.A. Confidential and more vulnerable than Raymond Chandler's Marlowe. In The Maltese Falcon, the best known of Hammett's Sam Spade novels (including The Dain Curse and The Glass Key), Spade is tough enough to bluff the toughest thugs and hold off the police, risking his reputation when a beautiful woman begs for his help, while knowing that betrayal may deal him a new hand in the next moment.

Spade's partner is murdered on a stakeout; the cops blame him for the killing; a beautiful redhead with a heartbreaking story appears and disappears; grotesque villains demand a payoff he can't provide; and everyone wants a fabulously valuable gold statuette of a falcon, created as tribute for the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV. Who has it? And what will it take to get it back? Spade's solution is as complicated as the motives of the seekers assembled in his hotel room, but the truth can be a cold comfort indeed.

Spade is bigger (and blonder) in the book than in the movie, and his Mephistophelean countenance is by turns seductive and volcanic. Sam knows how to fight, whom to call, how to rifle drawers and secrets without leaving a trace, and just the right way to call a woman "Angel" and convince her that she is. He is the quintessence of intelligent cool, with a wise guy's perfect pitch. If you only know the movie, read the book. If you're riveted by Chinatown or wonder where Robert B. Parker's Spenser gets his comebacks, read the master. --Barbara Schlieper

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:38 -0400)

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A murder involves Sam Spade in a dangerous search for a valuable statue.

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