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The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
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The Maltese Falcon (original 1930; edition 2011)

by Dashiell Hammett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,688158750 (3.9)464
Member:stgemma
Title:The Maltese Falcon
Authors:Dashiell Hammett
Info:Thinking Ink Media (2011), Paperback, 200 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:books I own, read for school, crime, detective, mystery

Work details

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (1930)

  1. 70
    The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler (InvisiblerMan)
  2. 51
    The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (Cecilturtle)
  3. 30
    Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler (caflores)
  4. 10
    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. 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.
  6. 00
    Maltese Falcon by Richard J. Anobile (bks1953)
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    Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem (InvisiblerMan)
  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.
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» See also 464 mentions

English (149)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (1)  Finnish (1)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (157)
Showing 1-5 of 149 (next | show all)
With The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett started a genre - - that of the hard - boiled detective. Even more :in Sam Spade, we have one of literature's first anti-heroes. As such, he has become iconic, much-imitated and - parodied. I imagine that as the first of his kind, he busted a lot of models, and is celebrated for that.

But reading The Maltese Falcon in 2013, it was hard for me to do so without all those imitators in mind. Most of the imitators have been hacks. But in the intervening decades, I think some have proven superior, which makes The Maltese Falcon lose some of its glow.

Hammett is actually not a very descriptive writer. In fact, he made me very tired every time he spoke of Spade's "yellow-flecked eyes" and the V in his forehead. (By the time he got to The Thin Man, Hammett was more polished.) The plot, however, carried me on.

And incidentally, I have to say that the edition I read was filled with distracting typesetting mistakes :misspellings, missing quotation marks, etc. The publisher apparently tried saving money by not hiring a proofreader. ( )
  kvrfan | Apr 25, 2015 |
Well, I can't say I really enjoyed this book, I didn't hate it but...I didn't really like it either. Mostly I found it interesting as a look at the early days of a genre.
I suspect many of my problem with it stem from just how different the times and writing styles were compared to today. The misogyny and homophobia in this book was appalling, but a product of it's time.
Beyond that though, while the plot was interesting and I liked the over setting and feel of the book, there were just way to many plot holes, things that worked out just because they worked out with no plausible reason or cause and flat, uninteresting characterizations that often bordered on the insulting. Especially the women. And I could not like Sam Spade, at all. He's a sociopath and I don't get why so many people seem to like him....though I suppose that isn't far off from real life since sociopaths are often charming. I just couldn’t bring myself to like him or care, or like anyone in this book, there was not one sympathetic character in the whole thing.

I'm glad I read it, it was well worth reading just for the experience but I doubt I'll read another Dashiell Hammett book ever again. ( )
  Kellswitch | Apr 4, 2015 |
This is my first Dashiell Hammett book. It was good, but didn't knock my socks off. The ending made up for a lot of flailing throughout the story.

Spade is a bit too hard edged for my taste. And the colloquialisms of the time left me saying "huh?" quite a bit, which may have prevented me from being able to fully appreciate it. I'll definitely try another one down the line. ( )
  grandpahobo | Mar 22, 2015 |
This mystery novel, generally considered to be Dashiell Hammett's finest work, appeared in serial form in Black Mask magazine in 1929 and was published as a novel the following year. Some critics have said that the Biblical invocation "The love of money is the root of all evil" sums up Falcon's theme.
Detective Sam Spade's partner Archer is hot on a case, and as his partner, Spade must find the killer. The investigation becomes enmeshed ( )
This review has been flagged by multiple users as abuse of the terms of service and is no longer displayed (show).
  Tutter | Feb 27, 2015 |
A true classic, one of the great early novels of the hard-boiled American gumshoe, I was reminded while reading it of the apocryphal story of the English student who complained while first reading Shakespeare, "It's full of cliches!" If the style here seems cliched, it's because Hammett set the style. The Bogart movie, of course, had long been a favorite of mine, but Hammett's descriptions are textured enough that I was soon picturing Sam Spade as described by Hammett, not as he appeared on the silver screen. Actually, the events and most of the great lines of the book and movie are remarkably true to each other, with the exception of that great closing line uttered by Bogart in the movie (if you've seen it, you know the line). Also, in the book, Joel Cairo and Wilmer are lovers, which was apparently too daring for the movie audiences of the time. I'm surprised it was handled so matter-of-factly in the novel. ( )
  burnit99 | Jan 27, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dashiell Hammettprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Angell, OlavTranslatorsecondary 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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:59:04 -0400)

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

(summary from another edition)

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