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The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

The Maltese Falcon (original 1930; edition 1930)

by Dashiell Hammett (Author)

Series: Sam Spade (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,657233818 (3.89)608
A treasure worth killing for Sam Spade, a slightly shop-worn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics, a perfumed grifter named Joel Cairo, a fat man named 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.… (more)
Title:The Maltese Falcon
Authors:Dashiell Hammett (Author)
Info:Alfred A. Knopf (1930), Edition: Red & Black Mystery Series, 186 Pages
Collections:Read and Owned, Your library

Work details

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

  1. 80
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (InvisiblerMan)
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    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Cecilturtle, TAir)
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    Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (caflores)
  4. 10
    Spade & Archer by Joe Gores (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Later prequel by another author
  5. 10
    Maltese Falcon [Picador Film Classics Library] by Richard J. Anobile (bks1953)
  6. 21
    Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (InvisiblerMan)
  7. 11
    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.
  8. 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.
  9. 12
    The Valley of Fear by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (benmartin79)
  10. 02
    Private Midnight by Kris Saknussemm (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Dark detective fiction, both radical for their times.
1930s (76)
Read (138)
Noir (2)
1920s (149)

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» See also 608 mentions

English (220)  Spanish (5)  Finnish (1)  Dutch (1)  Hebrew (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (231)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
One of my reading goals is to dip into hard boiled mysteries, and I decided to start with the gold standard. The writing is top shelf, and the mystery seems less about the falcon and more about the nature of obsession. The plot, familiar by now, involves several people interested in a statue, and the lengths they go to possess it. I knew to expect a certain, very stoic and violent, form of manhood, and Sam Spade didn't disappoint, but the character who I related to was his secretary, Effie. I think this is a sign that hard boiled stories are not for me. ( )
  Colleen5096 | Oct 29, 2020 |
A twisted tale of seduction and treason that I couldn't put down until the last page. Dashiell Hammett manipulates words and scenery to keep readers on the edge of their seats. A must read if you like either the 1931 or 1941 film version. ( )
  kimberlyrivera1473 | Sep 23, 2020 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!

Sam Spade is not, in this novel, what I had imagined from the movies and radio programs based on the books. Oh yes, he's tough and he has a sense of humor but there is more there.

In this tale Spade helps Brigid O"Shaughnessy acquire a rare bird - a sculpture of a falcon. The bird goes back many hundreds of years and is worth millions. But the story doesn't start out that way. It twists and turns and involves a number of shady and unusual characters, none of whom is easy to like.

A couple of things struck me. The story was written in the early 1900s and reflects a lot of the culture at that time. Women tended to be whores or saints. People from different regions of the world were lumped together. Homosexuals were ridiculed. We get a taste of that in how the women are represented here and how one character is referred to as "the Levantine", and more. I found these aspects a little disturbing but understandable.

What stood out for me in a strange way was the way Spade was described, right from the beginning. His V-shaped chin, eyebrows, nose, all the Vs adding up to his looking "pleasantly like a blond satan", according to Hammett. Through the book I kept trying to imagine this appearance and put the words and actions together with it.

There is more, and I hope the next reader stretches to find it. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
This is classic noir: one of the staples of the genre. I liked it overall. It's got some goofy potboiler moments (like how every woman drools over the main character for no reason, or how sassing the police has no consequences) but those are part of noir, and I consider them the price of admission. The book is overtly homophobic, and weirdly racist towards Greek people; and will not appeal to everyone. I had a good time enjoying the grittiness and hijinks. I would like to read a retelling from Joe Cairo's perspective. ( )
  Rachel_Hultz | Aug 15, 2020 |

May have been a real thriller a long time ago, but falls flat today. ( )
  cgfaulknerog | May 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
[I]t would not surprise us one whit if Mr. Hammett should turn out to be the Great American Mystery Writer. . . . In short, "The Maltese Falcon" is the best one, outside the . . . polite classes, in Lord knows when.
added by NinieB | editNew York Herald Tribune, Will Cuppy (Feb 23, 1930)
If the locution "hard-boiled" had not already been coined it would be necessary to coin it now to describe the characters . . . .
added by NinieB | editNew York Times (Feb 23, 1930)

» Add other authors (75 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hammett, DashiellAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angell, OlavTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meier, RaymondCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Jose
First words
Samuel Spade's jaw was long and bony, his chin a jutting v under the more flexible v of his mouth.
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?"
‘Who killed Thursby?’

Spade said: ‘I don’t know.’

Bryan rubbed his black eyeglass-ribbon between thumb and fingers and said knowingly: ‘Perhaps you don’t, but you certainly could make an excellent guess.’

‘Maybe, but I wouldn’t.’

The District Attorney raised his eyebrows.

‘I wouldn’t,’ Spade repeated. He was serene. ‘My guess might be excellent or it might be crummy, but Mrs Spade didn’t raise any children dippy enough to make guesses in front of a District Attorney, an Assistant District Attorney, and a stenographer.’

‘Why shouldn’t you, if you’ve nothing to conceal?’

‘Everybody,’ Spade responded mildly, ‘has something to conceal.’

‘And you have – ?’

‘My guesses, for one thing.'
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Wikipedia in English (1)

A treasure worth killing for Sam Spade, a slightly shop-worn private eye with his own solitary code of ethics, a perfumed grifter named Joel Cairo, a fat man named 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.

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Book description
Haiku summary
Yes, I'm guilty, but
I'll get free with female wiles.
Whoops, need a Plan B.


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